Saturday, March 2, 2013

Short Take: Quantum of Solace

This review was originally published on Pol Culture.

Quantum of Solace, the 22nd film in the James Bond franchise, and the second starring Daniel Craig, is perhaps the most lavishly produced film in the series. It is also one of the weakest. The film picks up where its predecessor, Casino Royale (2006) left off. Bond (Craig) is embittered over the betrayal and death of a loved one from the earlier film, and there doesn’t seem to be a humane impulse left in him. He uses his status as a secret-service field agent to give murderous vent to his anger and desire for revenge. His violent, cynical single-mindedness is challenged by his chance pairing with a Bolivian woman (Olga Kurylenko), who is seeking revenge for her family’s murder by a corrupt military officer. But unlike Bond, her personal vendetta has not led her to set aside her devotion to her country, and she is also looking to stop a European businessman (Mathieu Amalric), who is attempting to seize control of Bolivia in a banana-republic-meets-neoliberalism fashion. The picture includes some of the most flamboyantly conceived action sequences ever, but Marc Forster, who directed, has little feel for this kind of filmmaking. The key to effective action spectacle is clarity. Forster often lets things whiz by much too fast within the frames, and the hyperactive editing only frustrates the viewer further. The action sequences are often impossible to follow. Craig is still an effectively gritty presence, and one always enjoys the droll Judi Dench as the secret-service chief "M," but one is ready for the film to end long before it’s over. It’s exhausting. The screenplay is credited to Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis.

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