Film Reviews


By • Nov 9th, 2008 •

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Is this Bond, James Bond?

It’s not Monaco or the French Rivera, this time it’s La Paz, Bolivia. I’ve been through Bolivia and no one in QUANTUM gets the dreaded altitude sickness.

I thought CASINO ROYALE was sensational, with the scene between Bond (Daniel Craig) and Vesper (Eva Green) aboard the train now a classic. I’ve already seen it reprised on a TV series. And what about the fabulous casino scenes? Or the opening running scene? Well, we gave kudos to the writers, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. And what about Le Chiffre? Bond villains cannot be commonplace criminals and Mads Mikkelsen’s character was certainly not someone we’d meet at the mall. You’d spot QUANTUM villain Mr. Greene walking down your street in casual wear.

Once again, the same writers take on Craig’s second turn as 007. Paul Haggis takes first place, but obviously he was not the one who instilled CASINO with the verbal sparring we all loved.

The action scenes are so fast, with such quick cuts, that one loses any sense of awe. Instead of those ski scenes that opened Roger Moore’s too-long reign as 007, now we have Bond racing through Italy in his Aston Martin being chased by some bad guys. How come employee-goons never give up? Is there bonus pay for being the one who nails the target?

With the huge success of CASINO ROYALE, and Craig firmly in place as everyone’s best Bond, he’s taken the character deeper and further along the DSM-IV. He’s leaner, rougher, angrier, and much more ruthless. He likes killing instead of interrogating. He is not about to take prisoners.

“M” (Judi Dench) has become a nag and a stalker. We get to see the real “M” at home in her nightgown greasing her face with Vaseline. We then see “M” shopping for groceries at a Costcutter.

Instead of a swimsuit, Bond is a bloody mess throughout QUANTUM. Would your iconic James Bond wear dirty white chinos? What kind of MI6 secret agent has his credit cards rejected?

There is a secret organization that no one knows anything about, and they are everywhere. When “M” is targeted for assassination, Bond goes viral. On the trail of the secret organization, Bond goes to Haiti and meets gorgeous agent Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who is hooking up with bug-eyed madman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) in order to get closer to a bloated Bolivian general, Medrano (Joaquin Cosio). Greene will finance Medrano’s dictatorship run in exchange for a big piece of Bolivia’s desert. He’s got a nasty plan in mind. Greene is not a classic Bond villain; he’s more an accountant with connections and an eco-friendly shell company, Greene Planet.

Do psychopaths secret agents experience regret and revenge? It seems that “M” is worried about Bond getting sentimental and writing poetry. Bond has to keep reassuring “M” he’s dedicated to his job, nothing more. The writers have thrown away the Bond template and made him more of a rogue adventurer than a suave killer. I’ve had to live through slapstick, lumbering Bonds and Bonds who look tired, so I’ll ignore QUANTUM and wait for the franchise to return to the cold, calculating world of absurd wealth and villains with narcissistic aspirations to rule the world.

Yes, I’m disappointed, but Craig is nevertheless electric. And I do like that when Bond crashes through a building and hits concrete, he actually gets bruised. And when Bond kills somebody in a messy fight, he gets blood on his shirt! Craig’s input is clear, but he should be reminded that we want the man, James Bond, we will never meet. The man aboard the yacht. The man who knows his way around the Anatolian plateau.

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