Wednesday, 27 May 2009

“Quantum Of Solace” on BLU RAY. A Review of the 2008 film now on 2009 Blu Ray.

"You Don’t Have To Worry About Me…"

If I were to nail down what's wrong with "Quantum Of Solace" in a single word - it would be "cold". Bond used to be fun, Bond used to be entertaining, Bond used to grab you by the short and curlies and pleasure the engorged gonads off you for the allotted two hours it was given. And it never failed. Even the worst Roger Moore dreck of the late 1970's had something that encouraged repeat viewing. But on Bond 22 - you're bored half way through it and by the predicable end not much has changed.

I suppose after 22 films about the same thing, you're bound to have a case of diminishing returns, but there are times on "Quantum" where you have a shocking sense of pointlessness. Marc Forster directs chase sequences that feel contrived and have been done so much better before either in previous Bond films or others (principally Bourne). You feel like your watching Alien 3 - made by some inexperienced buck that made videos for a living. And don't get me started on the crap song and the woeful opening credits that were clearly a hurried last minute thing.

The opening car chase is the first offender. At the cinema, I along with others couldn't believe they'd do this - when you think of how Bourne simply nailed that - this Italian sequence is workmanlike at best. It should have opened with a reconfigured flashback sequence that included the car chase, the interrogation scene (how they got there) and then ended in the chase across the rooftops and the fabulous hand-to-hand fight sequence in the scaffolding afterwards (one of the films best moments) - all very Bond.

You have to feel sorry for Craig too - who seems to be putting in twice the effort for half the return. There is also a worrying ongoing lack of chemistry between him and Judy Dench who quite clearly pines for Brosnan to return - an actor who could convey both charm and edge in equal abundance and was comfortable as Bond and evolved as him.

It would of course be easy to blame Daniel Craig as the lead - I don't. It isn't that his Bond is charmless by choice, it's that he's being forced to be that way. Check out Craig's acting chops in "Flashbacks Of A Fool" or "The Mother" or "Defiance" - he's absolutely riveting and brilliant in all three - displaying all manner of emotion - shockingly good when given the material. But the under-worked script of "Solace" has straight-jacketed his version of 007 into a particularly nasty corner. It's far 'too' hard-edged and has left him with little or no room for acting manoeuvre. He isn't warm towards anyone - especially women - and his character needs to be.

The dispatching of Gemma Arterton's character Fields in black oil (aping the famous Goldfinger scene) is perhaps the crassest moment ever in a Bond film and a huge mistake. Her character could have died in a far more interesting and brave way - letting Craig and Kurylenko get away - but no - this is a man's movie made by men who have no interest in women.

After Mads Mikkelsen's fabulous and believable turn as the card-playing Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale", Mathieu Amalric is just hopeless as Dominic Greene - one of the most insipid bad guys ever - about as frightening as a teddy bear with a wonky eye. His expressions of anger and hate in the opera scene when Bond outs The Quantum group are just laughable. Bond's feisty companion Camille played by the truly gorgeous Olga Kurylenko is a smart choice as a leading lady, but she gets little to work with. Both the tremendously likeable Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright as René Mathis (police chief ally in Casino Royale) and Felix Leiter (his CIA buddy) distinguish themselves, but again Rene is disposed off in a cold and crass way. And on it goes to the inevitable mega-explosive ending...

Then there's the Blu Ray itself - the picture quality is gorgeous as you would imagine, but the menu is irritating to navigate - the interviews use the same Daniel Craig footage almost three times where he looks tired and bored rigid and again utterly charmless. And you finish watching them very quickly indeed. Again you just know there's more - and sure enough - sometime in 2009 - the inevitable 2-Disc Ultimate Edition to fleece fans will appear.

It isn't that "Quantum" is really, really bad - it just that it isn't that good either. I can't see myself looking at it again and that's almost unforgivable after the out-and-out triumph of its predecessor. The makers need to go back to the drawing board and lighten up big time, because this is a very disappointing and dreary chapter in one of the most cherishable film franchises in history.

Bond tells M in one of their spiked conversations, "You don't have to worry about me..." but on the strength of this and hundreds of other 3-star (and less) reviews - we clearly do.

In the words of Gerry Rafferty boys, "Get It Right The Next Time"...

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