"Quantum of Solace": Random Thoughts (and Spoilers)

Photo by xtylerclub

Watched "Quantum of Solace" on video this week (after seeing it in the theater, of course). Herewith some random musings:

1. The Bourne movies (particularly the second and third, directed by Paul Greengrass) pushed a style characterized by lots of hand-held cameras and quick cuts. "Quantum" uses a a lot of quick cuts in action sequences, but the intent struck me as different--sort of a cubist ideal of simultaneous representation of all viewpoints of the scene. It seems if you concentrate you can actually get a more concrete view of the action than a static camera would reveal. A nice gimmick was the occasional use of a blur of motion or a spray of foam to smooth over a quick cut.

2. One defining feature of the Bond movies has been the most elaborate and impressive stunt work. Often these have appeared in the pre-title teaser (more often than not involving jumps into empty space, out of airplanes, into airplanes, etc.). In "Quantum" we see, for example, Bond jumping a motorcycle off a pier onto a boat, but it is a throwaway moment, and the action moves on to the next thing without stopping. That's much cooler--the "no big deal" attitude.

3. The variety of style and font in the location title cards was fun. Similarly the different-colored subtitles for Mathis and the Spanish-speaking cab driver (talking simultaneously) were a nice touch.

4. I love how the first time we see the villain, he is not actively working at anything evil, but aimlessly screwing around with an ink pad and stamp.

5. The airline clerk in Bregenz was pretty, but didn't look as if she had popped off the page of a lingerie catalog. Nice touch of realism, that.

6. One of my favorite scenes--a quiet one--is Bond and Mathis on the plane. The sound design contributed a lot to this scene, mostly subliminally.

7. Gemma Arterton, the actress who plays Fields, is certainly attractive and competent enough to suit me--but just too young for the role. This necessitated the most arduous suspension of disbelief since Denise Richards was presented as a nuclear physicist.

8. Camille's reintroduction into the story at Greene's party comes via a very blurry view of her back--but she is still instantly recognizable by the burn scars.

9. Of course the scene where Fields lies on the bed covered in crude oil is an allusion to Goldfinger, but there were others. The scene where Bond and Camille come walking out of the desert in evening dress echoes one in The Spy Who Loved Me. The threats made by Greene to Medrano also reminded me of License to Kill: "You're only President for life."

10. Nice contemporary cynical touch: the world's governments are not blackmailed by the villain but rather eagerly cooperative.

11. The climax with two parallel fistfights--now that was a little contrived.

12. Interesting how crashing a van into the wall of the hotel's garage starts a chain reaction whereby ultimately the whole hotel explodes. Seems like poor design....

13. Some reviewers called this movie all action and no story. They seem to have missed the point. The deeper story is the relationship between Bond and M. The turning point comes when she moves from arresting him to deciding to trust him inside the space of a minute.

14. No gadgets whatsoever, beyond some fancy computer displays.

15. Finally Judi Dench as "M" gets to play "anxious", "shaken"--some emotional note beyond merely "stern." The stories hitherto have not made anywhere near full use of her talent.

16. Similarly, it's nice to see Felix Leiter's job consist of more than just waiting in the car while Bond gets the job done. This hasn't happened since Dr. No.

17. This is the second film in a row which does not end with Bond with a girl in a boat. I hope they retire that ending for good. The new type of ending emphasizes Bond's loner status.

18. A thought for next time: If you want to freshen up the plot, how about a three-way struggle? That hasn't been done since From Russia With Love.

19. I very much like the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond. This gives hope to all homely people everywhere.

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