Thursday, November 13, 2008


By Reymundo Salao

QUANTUM OF SOLACE is one of the four big movies I’ve been anticipating this year (the others are John Rambo, Hellboy 2 and The Dark Knight), so that’s why there’s as sort of pressure in my crossing of fingers hoping this would not be a disappointment. And of course, a great number of fans also await for this new Bond movie, fresh off the most successful (reboot) Bond movie CASINO ROYALE, which is now regarded by many as THE best James Bond movie ever. I was actually afraid that Quantum director Marc Foster (who also did The Kite Runner, Stranger than Fiction, Finding Neverland, & Monster’s Ball) would not meet up with the excellent job done by Martin Campbell in Casino Royale. But Quantum does not disappoint, and even manages to impress. I freaking love this movie that I still have this itch to watch it again even though I have already watched it twice.

This is certainly the James Bond for the new millennia. In the old days, we see James Bond fighting incredible and oftentimes ridiculous villains who have massive headquarters in volcanoes, moonbases, death ray shooting satellites, and they have fantastic diabolical plans like causing massive earthquakes, blowing up entire continents, and two separate villains intent on destroying all human life and rebuild humanity and civilization… one underwater, and one on the moon. Not anymore, we’re done with loving all that nonsense… With the newly-rebooted James Bond franchise, we pit Bond facing real world issues. This time the James Bond movies are starting to get realistic and relevant with what is happening in the world today; The CIA are dealing with influential corporations that have underworld shadow agendas, and the British Government are choosing to be negligent of a suspicion they choose not to investigate on, and destabilization of governments, secretly in the hands of organizations with selfish goals. Harsh Realities, really.

It is profoundly awesome to have the main protagonist characters play with the real world aspects of spies, counter-intelligence, and government interests. James Bond, heroically bound by duty and a hidden sense of righteous vengeance, goes against the system that is going with the tide controlled by sinister people that influence world politics. There’s M, who acts as a British Intelligence superior who must keep on her duty as one of those who must put Bond on a leash while keeping her own protesting opinions at bay. And there’s CIA Agent Felix Leiter, who, like M, must play ball with their governments and their organizations going with the tide that the villains have control of, while keeping their protestations at bay, and doing their best to secretly aid Bond.

Felix Leiter is excellently played by Jeffrey Wright whose silent disgust towards his agency’s actions are noteworthy. Mathieu Almaric may look too normal for a Bond villain, but his role works for him really well, no complaints about him. The secondary Bond girl Gemma Arterton’s role supposedly has the full name of Strawberry Fields. But she’s just Agent Fields here. The main Bond girl here, the Bolivian Agent named Camille is played by the goddess-like Olga Kurylenko who effectively pulls off a role as a Bolivian when she’s actually Ukranian. A refreshing change from playing slutty roles in Hitman and Max Payne, Olga here plays a serious woman out for revenge. Judi Dench as M, oh my God, I can’t easily express how much I adore the onscreen relationship of James Bond and M on this movie. Like a very interesting mother-son relationship; it’s precious.

Although many film purists would argue that Sean Connery is the quintessential James Bond, mainly due to the fact that he was the first and most popular actor to have ever given life to the role, but that may be a case I would disagree now. Daniel Craig is the one who I consider to be THE quintessential James Bond, because he humanizes the character of James Bond. This Bond kicks ass, bleeds, and he can feel emotional torment despite the cool image he projects. Somehow, Craig manages to show an aspect of Bond that can act the groovy, arrogant and cold persona, but at the same time show a hidden inner misery and torment. Other Bond actors may show Bond as being cold-blooded and a womanizer, they can pull it off in a way that makes Bond somewhat of a jerk. But Craig’s Bond is cold-blooded and a womanizer…because HE HAS TO BE THAT. Up from Casino Royale to Quantum you could see that Bond disallows himself to be emotionally attached because he is sensitive deep inside. He let his guard down by falling for Vesper, and with his loss, this only fortifies Bond’s mantra of being emotionally detached. In previous Bond movies, I used to root for the villains, probably because Bond was a character which is not easy to relate with, and was never kickass enough. I mean, linte, he was just a prettyboy jerk. Craig’s Bond is different because one could easily relate with him, and yes, he does pull it off as a cool action hero, a real bad motherf%%er who can give Rambo and Jason Bourne a stiff competition.

Screenwriter Paul Haggis described James Bond in this film as "a very human and flawed assassin, a man who has to navigate a morally complex and often cynical world while attempting to hold onto his deep beliefs of what is right and wrong." Daniel Craig further described Bond as "an unfinished article with a sense of revenge, who is still headstrong and doesn't always make the right decisions."

It is actually difficult to compare this movie with Casino Royale. Perhaps the single minus factor of Quantum is that its action is more static and shakier. Casino Royale’s action sequences are more polished and vividly more coherent, regardless of a similar fast pace. While the aggressive action of Casino Royale is followed by firm and technically static-free shots which lets you see each second-by-second detail of what’s going on. Quantum, on the other hand, employs shaky camera shots, similar to the Bourne movies, which tend to get confusing with speed but does intensify the sense of relentlessness. The brawl scenes also employed closer angles which tend to blur out the fight details. This demerit, on the other hand, does not diminish the film’s greatness.

There were numerous factors which made me love the movie so much. Scenes like the Meeting of the members of Quantum (which seems like the modern version of SPECTRE, which was the villainous terrorist organization featured on many of the classic James Bond movies) was marvelous and very reminiscent of the SPECTRE meetings. Then there’s the reference to the Goldfinger scene where a murdered girl’s entire body was painted in gold, while here, a girl’s dead body is covered in black oil. There’s also the scene when Bond embraces Camille, as he tries to protect her from the fire, I could not help but notice that it kind of parallels the scene in Casino Royale where Bond is also embracing Vesper in a sentimental scene at the shower.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE, which is actually a direct follow-up to CASINO ROYALE, because Quantum’s opening scenes happen five minutes after the ending of Casino Royale. This one is much more intensified and more action-packed. Shaken, Stirred, and Absolutely Marvellous, Quantum of Solace is a great movie to watch. And yes, I am planning on seeing it again this weekend for the third time already.


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certino said...

After Die another day it is the best movie I ever watch. The cars and the weapons used by the bond was super cool. I need to see it for several times. So much action and adventure also did not feel the difference of the actor too. I think it is because the stronger appearance of the bond culture allows me to enjoy it glad to see movies like this.