"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Vern Trades Punches With James Bond In QUANTUM OF SOLACE!

QUANTUM OF SOLACE
(a particular amount of consolation)

You and me we’re movie nerds. So when we go out to a movie we try to see it on the biggest, nicest screen. We see it in Imax if we can, or we have our favorite theaters where we hope it will be playing. But you gotta wonder why we keep doing that when more and more movies are not designed to be comprehensible on a large screen. Increasingly, action movies are designed to be viewed on your phone or wrist watch or whatever silly shit they invent next. Why do I wait out in the cold for two hours to see this movie on the giant Cinerama screen when it’s just gonna guarantee that I will have no idea if James Bond’s car is in front of or behind the other car, which one went off the cliff, what James Bond is doing to the guy he’s fighting and also which one is James Bond? At the very least they should rope off the front 2/3 of all these theaters since Marc Forster, the director of QUANTUM OF SOLACE, apparently was not told that people may sit within 250 feet of the screen.

There’s a whole lot of action in this movie. It hits for the cycle on different types of chases: foot, motorcycle, car, boat, plane. It’s got lots of quick, brutal (Golden Era Seagal style) fisticuffs, it’s got guns, some knives, I don’t think there were any swords or bow and arrows but I might’ve missed those. All the gunshots and crunching flesh, it sounds so exciting and it really made me wish I could’ve been there on the set to see what it looked like standing back where the camera should’ve been.

Quantum of SolaceI mean fuck, if you’re gonna shoot a thrilling car chase/shootout almost entirely in close-ups why not go all the way and just put a stationary camera on the dashboard showing Daniel Craig’s expressions for the whole scene? At least then it’s something new and nobody will waste their time darting their eyes back and forth trying to figure out what’s happening.

That needs to be said. But I still enjoyed this movie, including some of the action. I don’t mean to blow it out of proportion – it’s not Michael Bay-disorienting or even Paul Greengrass-dizzying. It’s just that there was a beautiful time not long ago when it fucking WENT WITHOUT SAYING that the goal of directing and filming a movie was to intentionally place the camera and edit the shots in such a way that you visually communicated what was happening. Alot of filmatists get it backwards these days, they keep thinking the composition and order of shots are NOT supposed to make sense to the audience. So this is their weekly reminder. Do I need to send you knuckleheads some flash cards or something? Would that help?

I cannot say this is a monumental sequel that hits the nail even more on the head and takes the material to unforeseen new plateaus, like say THE DARK KNIGHT or THE HUMAN TORNADO. And with it being Daniel Craig’s second go round at the character it doesn’t have that exciting brand-newness of the first one. But it’s a worthy installment. The underly-comprehensible action is my only major complaint. Craig gets several great badass moves – stabbing a guy and then holding his hand until he has no pulse, flipping a guy’s motorcycle out from underneath him, etc. He gets some good sarcastic humor but all pretty grim and never too corny. It’s got your usual bevy of gorgeous women, one of them apparently named Strawberry Fields but luckily I don’t think they mentioned her first name. It’s got a better theme song than last time. And I didn’t even notice any Paul Haggis lines where he has a character say something out loud that didn’t need to be said, like when Vesper Lynd was sitting in the shower with an expression worth a thousand words and then she had to add a couple more about how she felt cold inside or some shit like that.

I wish I had got a chance to watch CASINO ROYALE again, because there were a couple things I didn’t remember too well. But I like that there’s a continuing story in this new series. It’s not some new super villain with an evil scheme and James Bond has to stop it. Instead he’s following the trail left by his girl’s death last time around and any other villainy he encounters is incidental. In fact, he uncovers the existence of an evil organization we will surely learn more about in future installments. (do you guys think there will be another one? I’m keepin my fingers crossed!) I won’t say anything specific but the way they meet and the way Bond takes advantage of their meeting are the highlights of the movie in my opinion.

And now that I think about it they came up with their way to make Bond relevant without a cold war. Quantum (Q.U.A.N.T.U.M.?) aren’t religious fanatics or anything, but they are mysteriously organized and spread secretly around the world, mirroring the kind of terrorist threats we in the west worry about today. There’s alot of talk about the morality of MI-6 and CIA making deals with assholes, and fighting for oil rights even comes into play. This isn’t too real (it’s still James Bond) but it’s the modern world, not some throwback.

It’s fun to watch this guy barge into places and try to wing it when he has no idea what’s going on. He kills a guy, takes his briefcase and goes to meet with somebody not knowing who he’s supposed to be or what’s in the case. In the Pierce Brosnan Bonds he did those impossible stunts like driving a plane off a cliff or whatever, and that was fun. But with Craig it seems less superhuman, more like a guy who is secure in his own bad motherfuckerness. Brosnan seemed untouchable, but Craig is definitely touchable, he gets the shit beat out of him in these movies. Even on the poster he has blood on him. But he’s tough enough to walk away.

I’ve never really been much of a Bond guy, so sorry if this is an outrage, but I still think Craig is the best one. He’s a weird contradiction, a rugged tough face that still looks suave in a good suit. Not too many people can do it that good, even Steve McQueen I thought came off kind of phony playing a rich guy in THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Craig seems like a guy who could really kill you with his bare hands but also wears a tie better than you. In fact he’s so good at it that when he walks into a hotel for the super-rich covered in dirt and blood the staff still kisses his ass. You or I walk in there with blood on us, I guarantee you they’re gonna be rude about it.

I’m not sure what the deal is with Marc Forster, I don’t understand how the different movies he’s directed come from the same guy. But I guess nobody with a singular vision is gonna be hired by these producers, and other than having the camera too close and occasionally intercutting too much (do you really need to throw in random opera shots in an already muddled action sequence?) he does okay. I’ll tell you this, I never wanted to beat up the movie like I did FINDING NEVERLAND. It never condescended to me about the power of whimsy and imagination. That’s a plus. This is BY FAR the best of the two Marc Forster movie’s I’ve watched.

In conclusion, I will watch the next one.

–Vern

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/39105

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

This entry was posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008 at 5:44 am and is filed under Action, AICN, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

66 Responses to “Vern Trades Punches With James Bond In QUANTUM OF SOLACE!”

  1. We’re totally on the same page about that shaky handheld style that’s ruining action movies. However, I actually thought Forster had a handle on the style. I had no trouble following the action. I just thought he took all the air out of each scene. Not saying it’s better or worse than other styles, but for what he was trying to do, he conveyed a swiftness to the violence that made visual sense. Still, I’m sure Daniel Craig being Bond had a lot to do with why I still like this one.

  2. After that great free running chase scene in Casino Royale, it still pains me that the only I can remember about the action in Quantum of Solace was how confused I was. It was as bad as Transformers in terms of coherence. Worst Bond movie ever. I’d rather watch a View to a Kill.

  3. New Trailer:
    http://youtu.be/vgr2syY_OU4
    action looks far more coherent, possibly. I like that there seems to be this “resurrection” thing being used to re-introduce more of the classic elements of the franchise (Q, Gadgets, More Silly Looking Villains, Bond Being Really Nonchalant About Lifethreatening Situations, Obligatory Catchphrase) while keeping the increased focus on character development and serious personal stakes that the Craig films have emphasised.

  4. Excellent review, Vern. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m looking forward to what you have to say about “Skyfall” come November.

    Congrats on the Village Voice gig.

    Your bud,
    Tom

  5. Hey, good to hear from you, Tom! The new one looks great, I look forward to it too.

  6. With all the unanimous praise for SKYFALL I’ve been hearing some of the old QUANTUM OF SOLACE arguments again, one being that people actually thought they were watching Bond’s car go over the cliff in the beginning. Now I’ve said my piece about this movie and I don’t begrudge anyone speaking out against the style (I wish they’d sick it on BOURNE SUPREMACY instead though.)

    The comment made me think of one worthwhile point though. If you really believed Forster killed Bond in the pretitle sequence, I think you can use the process of elimination to figure out that he didn’t. I’m not saying its necessary the best style, but there is a form of respect for the viewer here. Forster can try some things with the editing and count on you to rule out Bond as the victim. It’s a little more participatory, whether it works or not.

  7. Well I made that argument because it was true, that shootout/chase sounded really exciting, but I had no idea who was where and receiving which bullets and/or crashes, and that was a terrible artistic choice for that type of scene. Luckily this is not a problem in any of the other Bond movies I’ve seen.

  8. Have you seen LIVE AND LET DIE, Vern? It’s got all the ludicrous type of things you appreciated in the THUNDERBALL review, plus it puts Bond into a blaxploitation setting and has not problem making him look totally out of his depth and get casually dismissed by the villain within seconds of meeting him.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTCZNSll3GI

  9. But is there something to a stylistic choice that asks the viewer to participate, that says “Ok, assume Bond is safe because he always is. Now make sense of the rest of the shots.” That’s at least more thought than I’ve ever heard Paul Greengrass put into defending his shaky cam.

  10. Do you really think that’s what it was supposed to be? More of a puzzle or quiz than an action scene? I’ve only seen it the one time, but it just seemed to me like an action scene that was ruined by the usual modern stylistic crutches, as inspired by the BOURNE movies. In fact, I heard the reason why it’s like that is because it was the same second unit that did those. According to IMDb, second unit director Dan Bradley did the two Greengrass BOURNEs and GREEN ZONE, but no other Bond movies.

  11. I don’t want to sound too mannish here, guys, but you did notice that there are three very different kind of cars in that scene? When the Alfa goes over the edge no shaky cam in the world can hide that its not Bond’s Aston. But you are of course right, Bradley almost ruined what would have been a really good car chase.

  12. Whether intentional or not it occurred to me as a possible interpretation. I thought QUANTUM was a good version of the modern style, showing Bond could do it to and do it right, then never has to do it again. I didn’t mean any offense by it. I don’t begrudge anybody who didn’t like it. I was just wondering if a director like Forster might have evolved it in some way.

  13. I did some more research on this and found this article:

    http://commanderbond.net/5844/a-different-approach-to-action-in-quantum-of-solace.html

    where Bradley has a quote that’s similar to what you’re saying, Fred:

    “We have to see it but if it is too easy to see then, to me, it feels staged. I don’t want the audience to have a passive viewing experience. I’ll do anything I can to subversively provoke them into active participation.”

    And here’s one that makes it clear that I won’t like most of the action he shoots:

    “One of the things I really believe is that we shouldn’t try and make everything feel perfectly staged. I’m always saying to my crew, I want to feel like we were lucky to catch a glimpse of some crazy piece of action. I don’t want it to feel like a movie, where everything is perfectly presented to the audience.”

    Incidentally, I just realized that Bradley is the director (not just 2nd unit) of the RED DAWN remake, which come to think of it I’ve heard does not, uh, feel like a movie where everything is perfectly presented to the audience. Guess I’ll wait for video on that one.

  14. Great quotes. I certainly disagree with him that it “looks staged” if you can see it. I was going for a more theoretical angle.

    Funny about the new RED DAWN, the invasion sequence is amazing, then the rest is all shaky cam.

  15. Also I’ve mentioned Franchise Fred in two interviews and a podcast now. I’m gonna make it a real thing.

  16. I almost want to see RED DAWN just to see what pretzels the plot bends itself in to try to justify a North Korean invasion and how stupid and “America, FUCK YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” it’s going to be

    but I’ll probably wait for video too

  17. Sounds like Bradley wants to be the Salvador Dali of action

  18. I still think filmmaking should be intentional, not accidentally capturing a glimpse of the image. I like the idea of challenging the viewer, but not haphazardly.

    RED DAWN is dumb fun. Too bad, there is some good action you can’t see very well.

  19. The first time I saw this I thought it was just okay. The ultra-fast editing in the action was a bit annoying. Forsters choice to make the action crazy so we participate was probly not the best way to do it. I found my attention getting drawn to the style of the movie more than the story itself. But after seeing it again tonight I think I like it more.

    The opening car chase, for all it’s filmatism faults, is still like a jolt of electricity. And Bond’s one-liner when he opens the boot – “You can get out now”, was actually really funny, and reminded me of dialogue you would hear in a Guy Ritchie joint.

    Yeah, this is cool Vendetta Bond, cold and cruel. I don’t think Craig smiled once in this, or even smirked. It really suits him.

  20. Trying to make my way through all the Craig Bonds again for when the new one hits home video, and yeah, don’t have much new to add to Casino Royale other than it’s kind of a miracle that it’s as good as it is – what other movie would address most people’s main criticism about Bond movies (“they’re boring!”) by making the entire middle section about a poker game and still pull it off? What kind of movie introduces the female lead over an hour in, after its biggest action scene is already over and the evil plot has been thwarted, and still manages to make her the Best Bond Girl by a wide margin? Who knew the casting of Craig (who yes, absolutely looks more like a Bond Henchman than Bond) would be such a stroke of genius? The whole movie is a giant risk that pays off and holds up incredibly well.

    Quantum of Solace, on the other hand, is even more disastrous than I remember. Even with lowered expectations, it’s borderline incoherent, not just in those terrible action scenes but in story and character. Nothing makes sense – people and plot points just come and go at random, it’s like they came up with ideas for action sequences first and then tried to reverse engineer the script around it, which is fine – but then they just said F it and stopped bothering. Yes I know there was a writer’s strike but I think anyone who’s seen a movie before could have pieced together the footage better than this. It’s so sloppy and incoherent I kinda want to say #releasetheForster cut, but Forster seems to be actively trolling the audience half the time with strange edits and confusing plot points. (Yes, it totally looks like M gets shot at the beginning. No, I don’t know why David Harbour is doing an impression of Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War. Yes, I get the movie made a Goldfinger reference except with oil but I don’t understand why. No, I don’t understand why there’s a hotel in the middle of the desert with one employee in it that can get blown up from one stray bullet.) The whole movie is so weird and uninvolving, I’m honestly kind of surprised there isn’t a cult appreciation of QoS the way there is of The Counselor and Miami Vice (which yes, I may need to watch again).

    SPOILER for QoS and legit question for you guys: What was the point of the retcon that Vesper’s Algerian lover was not really kidnapped, but he was actually an evil secret agent who conned her? Is that the movie’s titular Quantum of Solace that makes Bond feel a little bit better? I mean he throws away her necklace like Goose’s dogtags to signify he’s over it, but I don’t really get why. The Vesper turn at the end of Casino Royale was so rich with mystery and left so many questions that added to Bond’s character – we have no idea how much Vesper loved Bond, or if she even did at all. And neither does he! It makes him into the cold bastard that he is. That’s kinda the whole point of the movie. So the retcon here weirdly doesn’t add anything to the turn nor negate it. If you want to make Vesper a victim of Quantum twice, that’s ok I guess. But shouldn’t that evil boyfriend be in this movie more than 30 seconds? Shouldn’t he actually be the main villain since he’s literally a Dark Mirror version of Bond, seducing women and breaking hearts for information and then moving on to the next woman? Instead he’s a nothing character with one line of dialogue who is interrogated entirely offscreen. Like everything else in the movie, it’s an interesting idea squandered to hell.

  21. I am the guy in the QoS cult. Well, that’s going a little too far. I don’t even like it that much. But I like it better than most Bond movies for two simple reasons: It’s under two hours, eliminating that extra half-hour of lifestyle porn and location photography that stop every other Bond film’s momentum in its tracks, AND it’s the only Bond movie, as far as I know, where the Bond girl straight up shuts him down. He goes in for a kiss at the end and she just shakes her head, like, “Really? You sad little man. That’s what you thought this was about? Your dick?” I love it.

  22. The editing is godawful. Simply the most incoherent action scenes I’ve ever seen. (And some of the problems go beyond the editing. If you know you’re going to be cutting fast, then please don’t put your hero in a a dust-covered dark grey car chased by dust-covered black cars. Maybe Marc Forster was just trying to conceal his inexperienced action staging; if so, it worked, because you never get a look at it.)

    And that’s a shame, because it’s otherwise pretty good. People always bring up the writers’ strike, but I think the script is mostly fine. The Strawberry Fields subplot seems to have strayed in from some other movie, probably starring Pierce Brosnan, but at least they had the sense to keep her first name out of the dialogue. It’s nice to see a Bond heroine who doesn’t need rescuing, despatches her main enemy all by herself, and won’t even sleep with Bond. It’s also interesting to see a villain whose plans are smaller-scale than usual for a Bond movie, and way more plausible.

    Thinking it over, it’s a bit weird that the movie puts so much symbolic significance into oil, even once we know that’s just a red herring. But that’s never bothered me while I’m watching it.

    Mathieu Amalric never gets enough credit here. He’s arguably the single best actor ever to play a Bond villain — strong competition there, I’m aware — and he’s fantastically unctuous and slimy. Kurylenko is good too, though I’m not sure why she was cast as a Bolivian.

    As to the Algerian lover thing: I don’t see that it makes much difference to Vesper’s culpability whether the guy was lying to her or not. My guess is that they didn’t want to end the picture without someone getting punished for her death, and they were saving Mr. White for future films.

  23. There’s definitely a bit of a QOS cult growing, and like most such cults around “unfairly maligned films” of the 00s, it can never be that it was simply received a little harshly or has some elements that make it interesting, it has to be that it was a masterpiece that the cruel gatekeepers of the era refused to let pass. As with many or perhaps even all such films, part of the argument is that it accurately captures a part of life, and I have seen QoS’s editing defended on the grounds that it perfectly represents a character “out of their depth” or some such. My retort to such claims would usually be; “OK, but is it enjoyable to watch?”.

    But hey, I liked QoS the two times I saw it over a decade ago and was pretty high on my own analytic and wordsmith skills back then, so I probably typed similar stuff and should probably be a little easier on these fans of QoS and indeed other IMO increasingly overrated cult films of the 00s like [BLOCKED FOR MY OWN SANITY] and [DITTO].

    The flipside is that it also seems to be more common than ever for QoS to be cited as the worst of all the films. I think at the time there was a guard preventing people from admitting they liked it less than the less popular Moore or Brosnan films that seems to have disappeared with time.

  24. Having watched NO TIME TO DIE, it is now, to me, QoS in permanent reverse: Gorgeously filmed, with amazing action sequences shot and edited for pace and clarity, unfortunately in service to a script which gives you permanent whiplash with it’s tonal shifts while you look at a facsimile of Bond and go “Just who the fuck is this guy?”

  25. Well, I just saw GQ has a recent article declaring Quantum of Solace to be the best Craig Bond movie(!) Not sure if the article actually makes good points or if the writer enjoys playing contrarian (I’ll read it after watching No Time to Die), but yeah, that’s one hell of a hot take. (I’ll actually drop a scorching hot take of my own and admit the Jack White/Alicia Keys theme song is my favorite Craig theme song. I don’t understand why so many people think it’s so terrible when I think it’s catchy as hell).

    Matthew – Greene and the General actually throw in a quick line near the beginning saying that Camille is Russian, so it looks like they can’t be accused of whitewashing. Now as to why in the heck her Russian family was down in Bolivia and why she has that weird orange spray tan for much of the movie is another question. I do agree with you that Amalric is an interesting and underrated villain – even his much derided screaming/yelping during his axe fight with Craig adds a little something and is fresh for the series. He’s just kind of surrounded by a half-baked plot (and yes, I totally think there was an earlier draft where oil was the Macguffin instead of water).

    Majestyk – wow, I never read the kiss scene that way (just rewatched it on Youtube and still don’t read her reaction that way) – but if that’s what they were going for, it’s yet another interesting idea poorly executed like everything else in the movie. Speaking of which, I totally forgot this is the first Bond where the CIA is actually villainous (or at least complicit in villainy), but as this movie loves to do, it’s completely resolved offscreen in one line of blink and you miss it dialogue.

  26. It’s possible that was not what they were going for. That may be me reading into it because of my own prejudices against a character I have come to hate. I despise how easy everything is for Bond, how the world bends over backwards to bolster his manliness and righteousness, and I enjoyed seeing him get utterly thwarted for a change. Dude’s had a license to print pussy for 50 years, and I loved seeing the look on his face when it was revoked.

  27. “Dude’s had a license to print pussy for 50 years, and I loved seeing the look on his face when it was revoked.”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Majestyk, it’s been apparent for awhile now that where Bond is concerned (and let’s toss in Sir Sean into the mix ), you and I will always occupy opposite ends of a significant divide.

    But damn, if that isn’t a good fucking line!

    If this blog were a movie, you’d be the scene stealing baddie who’s destined for a walk off a tall building, but it’s your lines I’d quote on the drive home:-)

    And BTW, I watched QoS recently as part of catching up on the Craig-verse before NTTD, and you did read a little too much into the scene.

    Neither Bond nor the lady were in the mood after their violent encounter in the desert hotel.

  28. Regarding Amalric, I don’t quite get the hatred he receives, but will say he radiates not one iota of menace, but he is suitably sleazy, like that guy who waxes lyrical about women’s rights in Afghanistan at a party while checking out every shapely female ass that crosses his line of vision. An uncanny resemblance to a young Polanski doesn’t help either.

  29. Scratched my brain for some new insight into this. It definitely flattens the debate of the Craig movies by having the worst villain, worst henchmen, worst action, and so on–without it, people would really have to go to bat for Skyfall and Spectre, which would make the discourse more interesting. I guess it proved the priority of these things should be “can the director stage a badass action scene?” and not “how handsomely can the director frame Bond as he clenches his jaw in manly pain?” cuz man, does anyone care how hard Bond has it, traveling to exotic locales, bedding beautiful women, and having thrilling adventures? The less self-indulgent they try to make these fantasies, the more self-indulgent they become in insisting we take all this *seriously*. I mean, DUDE–this one’s got a political message. Imagine caring who Bond votes for?

    Where was I? Oh yeah–this did start the Craig trend of taking interesting side characters and killing them off just to give him yet more angst and/or a dully executed revenge subplot. And Gemma Arterton would’ve made a great Moneypenny if they’d wanted to make these things actual Bond movies one film earlier.

  30. Dominic Greene is controversial because he runs counter to type. He’s not a brash megalomaniac. He’s a smiling jackal who knows perfectly well that he’s no physical threat, but deploys his money and his connections to keep himself out of trouble. He even dares General Medrano to kill him at one point, and Medrano, inevitably, backs down. When his plans collapse around him he fights like a cornered animal. Every second his bulging eyes are on screen is pure entertainment, and he’s easily the best of the Craig villains.

    Now, sure, it can be risky to deviate from the tried and true. Julian Glover would have been great as a charming psychopath — have a look at the Doctor Who serial “City of Death,” where he’s basically playing a Bond villain from space — but in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, they instead make him into a prim, stodgy dick. Maybe the thinking was that would help with the plot twist? In any case, he never quite reaches the heights he could have.

    Amalric, though. Who would you rather watch, another off-brand Blofeld like, I don’t know, Stromberg in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, or this guy? The choice is clear.

    (Reappraised-cult-film opinions: MIAMI VICE is good, THE COUNSELLOR is near-great, DOMINO ’05 is bad, SOUTHLAND TALES is far better in theory than practice, GAMER is repellent drek. Govern yourselves accordingly.)

  31. GAMER isn’t one I was thinking of, but that’s a good example of a film that gets way too much credit for pointing out a couple of things people apparently didn’t notice at the time (“hey, did you ever notice that some of these fellows who spend all their time in basements playing video games don’t have particularly pleasant views”). OK, maybe Neveldine and Taylor better foresaw how much money these people might make than I did in 2009, but that doesn’t make the film any better. And the action scenes will have you pining for QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

  32. Dominic Greene could’ve worked if he had some muscle behind him, but his henchman is a flop with a bad haircut, meaning that the entire movie is basically Bond against faceless minions… and the rape-revenge thing with Medrano, I guess, which is a weird place for the Bond franchise to immediately go after they get dark and gritty… Say what you will about Tomorrow Never Dies, but Jonathan Pryce’s Rupert Murdock at least has Stamper to really put Bond through the wringer. And Ricky Jay. And Vincent Schiavelli! For all the Bond films became ‘events’ after Brosnan left, TND really had a murderer’s row of talent behind it.

  33. Yeah, well, the Craig years are lacking in general when it comes to memorable henchmen, aren’t they? Bautista in SPECTRE. Maybe the camera-eye guy in NO TIME TO DIE; I’ll give them effort points there, at least. And that’s about it.

  34. Also, it’s just odd that we’re being introduced to Quantum, the new bad guys so badass that they outright executed the villain of the last movie for not being up to their standards–and our first impression of them is nebbish Greene, his bowlcut henchman, and a plot to control the water supply of Bolivia. I guess it foresaw the trend of villains who are just lame and pathetic instead of imposing (e.g. Kylo Ren), but still… no wonder Skyfall impressed people so much when it sidestepped those losers and brought in a bad guy who was trying to do more than raise people’s water bill. In Bolivia.

  35. This is a weird complaint. In our introduction to SPECTRE, their grand goal was to steal a code machine, and people generally like that movie. Anyhow, what’s wrong with Bolivia?

  36. I do admit that the bad guy’s plan actually grew on me and is something that I really have to give the movie credit for. When I watched it I thought: “Da fuck? That’s all? He is selling water?” but in recent years it became more apparent that companies trying to privatice access to water in certain parts of the world, is a real world problem, that not enough people talk about, so it’s cool that a big studio movie like this tried to shine a light on this.

  37. Vince, if you like the attitude in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, you will probably rank NO TIME TO DIE high on your list.

  38. pegs: Maybe, but I am not likely to watch it any time soon. SKYFALL killed all my interest in this version of the character. I never watched SPECTRE and I doubt I’ll be particularly interested in an even-more-bloated-than-usual Bond movie that thinks I give a shit about this smug catalog model’s tragic backstory. Give me an action-adventure that recognizes the fantasy horseshit it’s peddling and hasn’t disappeared so far up its own ass that you can see the top of its head through its mouth and maybe we’ll talk.

    CJ: To me, this is a weird complaint, because I’ve probably seen 15 Bond movies and I’m not sure I could tell you what any of the bad guys were really up to. GOLDENEYE had a killer satellite or something, and GOLDFINGER wanted to rob Fort Knox. That’s about all I got. So the fact that anybody recalls the villain’s plan in QoS at all, even in a negative way, has got to be a plus, right? At least it doesn’t fade into the background noise like all those other Bond plots.

  39. “Give me an action-adventure that recognizes the fantasy horseshit it’s peddling ”

    “hasn’t disappeared so far up its own ass that you can see the top of its head through its mouth ”

    Ok Majestyk….By those parameters I reckon you’ll like exactly HALF of NTTD :-)

  40. Yeah, but what’ll I do for the other two and a half hours?

  41. I’ve seen THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS a half dozen times and I think I could explain what the bad guys are up to, but I wouldn’t wager money on it.

  42. To each their own, but recall in Casino Royale the first act alone revolves around Bond stopping a terrorist bombing. The first thirty minutes of CR has higher stakes than the entire movie of Quantum of Solace. That just seems off to me.

    At any rate, I imagine the Bond franchise’s never-ending quest for relevance will next turn to taking a page from John Wick’s book. I, for one, wouldn’t mind a Chad Stahelski Bond–assuming Martin Campbell isn’t interested. If that guy’s decided only to do a Bond actor’s first-at-bat, we can’t allow that to go to waste.

    (I also guess the ‘retired badass gets back into the game’ trope is out; maybe they could have Bond come back after recuperating from an injury and have a meta joke where Q or someone thought he was dead.)

  43. Preventing a coup isn’t high stakes now?

    This whole line of argument is bizarre. I’ve never seen anyone worry about this sort of thing before in Bond movies. “It’s about feuding gangs of rival smugglers. In Greece.

  44. It kinda struck me as trading one dictator for another. In fairness, though, I was fine with the Carver plan in TND to start a war for ratings and exclusive broadcasting rights, and I know that gets crap. Though I feel it fits thematically with the kind of shit a media mogul supervillain would plausibly try to do, whereas I see Greene’s fake environmentalism/fake oil/water rights thing as just all over the place and not really making a point.

    Weren’t the Greek smugglers going after a valuable Soviet code machine? Yeah, that’s Bond shit.

  45. Bolivia has been a democracy for a few decades now. I think the decision to set QUANTUM in an actual Latin American country — unlike the “Republic of Isthmus” from LICENCE TO KILL, or the faux-Cuba with a land border in OCTOPUSSY — helped keep the plot a little more grounded in geopolitical realities. Fake environmentalism is exactly what Greene’s real-life counterparts do.

    I agree that the script would be thematically tighter if it dropped all the oil references.

  46. Maybe just me, but the movie characterizes the region as so corrupt and so cynical, with its crooked chief of police and constant references to puppet governments and international meddling, that I have a hard time buying it as a nice place to live that’s about to get screwed over. They even have Greene say they don’t care if the person they put in charge of Bolivia is a good guy or a bad guy–if Medrano were in the big seat and weren’t willing to work with them, they’d be cutting a deal with the freedom fighters. So if we’re meant to see the fictionalized Bolivia of QoS as some place with a good ruler, and that the average joe would be SOL if Medrano were suddenly in charge, I don’t feel they convey that.

  47. Well, I don’t think it’s hard to decide that the democratically-elected president who refuses the corrupt deal might be better for the populace than sadistic dictator, rapist, and killer who goes along with Greene’s plan.

  48. Hey Majestyk, Goldfinger didn’t want to rob Fort Knox, he wanted to nuke it and make his gold collection the valuable in the world.

    And doon’t bother with NTTD, you’re not missing a thing, unless you actually need to see visual proof that the slog that Daniel Craig’s run as Bond has been is 100% irrevocably over.

  49. Watched Quantum for the third time recently, and followed the instructions to watch it immediately after Casino Royale. I did not like it the first two times, but third time was the charm for me. I think it aged well. Yes, the editing is still a mess– like that infamous clip of Liam Neeson climbing over a fence from Taken 3, stretched to 100 minutes. Yes, the writers’ strike didn’t help either. But there’s some good stuff in there. It’s like an anti-Bond movie. No catchphrases, no flashy villain, Bond doesn’t get the girl, etc. It’s mean, brutal, grimy. Craig’s Bond tries to will himself to be the cool, detached Bond the audience is familiar with, but can’t quite succeed, because he’s dying inside (this recurs throughout Craig’s run– and is a nice touch for the character). He chucks his friend’s corpse into a dumpster. The villains are capitalists and the American government. Olga Kurylenko’s character is pretty solid, and you could tell the story from her POV just as successfully. Also, the production design is beautiful.

    And the villain plot might be my favorite of any Bond movie, because that’s the evil shit Nestle is doing right now! This one was ahead of its time.

  50. I normally don’t even think about the logic of Bond villains’ plans, but my wife did keep harping on how strange Greene’s plan was, so I get the confusion and the complaints. I guess her beef was the plan seems to be that Greene is hiding water to jack up water rates to poor people that, as shown on screen, don’t seem like they can even afford the current rates. Yes, I know several things like this happen in real life, but I guess considering Greene is already part of an evil Illuminati group that pulls strings around the world and already seems to have unlimited power and money, raising the water bill of poor Bolivians seems like small potatoes (as evil as it is).

    Obviously the scheme would make more monetary sense if he was gouging water prices to Beverly Hills or Vegas something, but obviously audiences wouldn’t be as sympathetic to the victims…. which makes it even worse that the water situation isn’t even fixed by the end of the movie! I’m not saying it needs to be the glorious end of Fury Road or anything, but it seems really odd to set this crisis up and linger on poor Bolivians savoring drops of water out of a pipe or whatever….and then casually just forget about them and leave them suffering at the end. And it’s not even addressed in the later Craigs! (that I know of)

  51. I watched the Craig Bond series last week. I liked them.

  52. >Well, I don’t think it’s hard to decide that the democratically-elected president who refuses the corrupt deal might be better for the populace than sadistic dictator, rapist, and killer who goes along with Greene’s plan.

    Or that movie is throwing in the bad guy being a rapist and child molester and whatnot just to juice up an evil scheme that’s not that strong. Like, what’s the point of all the political stuff if at the end of the day, the movie’s just gonna shout “he’s rapey!” as a reason to hate the guy?

    (Ironically enough, the democratically elected president at the time ended up being accused of child molestation. Twice.)

  53. Ha. Was he the president in the James Bond universe, though? Eon wouldn’t want to show approval (or disapproval) of any well-known politician like Evo Morales.

    These spy action-thrillers are generally a little opaque about the in-universe governments. The MI6 administration in the Bond movies is obviously fictional. Likewise what we see of the British cabinet ministers. But are we meant to assume that the British prime minister and American president and so on are the same as in real life? I think maybe … we are? Though I can see why they’d want to be cagey about it. I’ve seen people still fuming about the very innocuous Denis Thatcher joke at the end of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. And of course you can’t be sure that the people in power during the film’s development will still be around by the time it’s released, especially with a parliamentary government.

  54. Kaplan, I think you’re confusing Bolivia’s Evo Morales with Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.

  55. No, Evo Morales, that’s the one.

  56. The allegations against Morales came after he had to flee the country during the right wing coup, and were quickly annulled by a judge. He’s not James Bond bad guy material, I think.

  57. To be fair, neither is James Bond’s resentful foster brother, but that didn’t stop ’em…

  58. You don’t think Ernst Stavro is bad guy material?

  59. Christoph Waltz is a really boring choice for Nu Blofeld, his new backstory does nothing to justify him being the boss of bosses, and his motivation is the same post-9/11 ‘well-intentioned extremist creates surveillance state’ as every other spy thriller bad guy. James Bond’s ultimate enemy should not be the same guy who would give Ryan Reynolds a hard time in a Netflix Original.

  60. I kind of agree with you. Blofeld was always more intimidating when he wasn’t seen. But even then he was just a substitute for Ian Flemings obsession with KGB and the Soviet Union. The only actor who managed to combine cleverness and physical threat in the role was Telly Savalas. Although I think Waltz did a good job in NO TIME TO DIE.

  61. Waltz wasn’t so much a boring choice as he was an obvious one, but the the gigantic misstep was how his and the whole SPECTRE storyline was dealt with. If you know all the Craigverse films have continuity (established by the fact that QoS literally starts minutes after CR) then seems kinda silly to bring in that whole organization in the FOURTH film, knowing I’m sure that Craig only had one more film in him. That too when Blofeld was not only set up as the Bad Guy in SPECTRE, but the BIG BAD GUY, controlling all the previous ones like Le Chifre, Greene and Silva. So Blofeld enters in SPECTRE and exits in NO TIME TO DIE. Goodbye, Ernst, we barely knew ya! With a little forethought, he could have been introduced, Thanos-like in a post-credit teaser in an earlier film.

    Judi Dench’s M though….that was a beautiful 3 film arc and an example on how to do it right

  62. I think some of it is that they tried very inorganically to make Blofeld a huge deal, hence the “author of all your pain” stuff, when if he’d just been the head of SPECTRE, that would’ve been enough. Also the annoying “he isn’t Blofeld/yes he is!” back-and-forth, as if anyone beyond hardcore Bond fans would care about him being named Blofeld. I know that was the style at the time, and still is thanks to Marvel, but still, it’s the movies doing a lot to TELL US Blofeld is a great villain rather than SHOWING US he’s a great villain.

    They also should’ve had Blofeld be a bigger deal in NTTD, because Bond’s final enemy being… some guy who met his girlfriend as a child… is hilariously anticlimactic after all the build-up Blofeld got. If they could make a whole movie of Blue Is The Warmest Color being the love of Bond’s life, they could at least try to redeem Blofeld’s character instead of having him villain-cucked in the eleventh hour.

  63. When they suddenly got the rights to the name again, I guess they had to move fast. But anyway, a seven movie build up should be enough, don’t you think?

  64. Blofeld is so dumb in both Spectre and NTTD, it reminds me of how Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor’s plan in Superman Returns made zero sense and everyone’s defense was “Well Gene Hackman’s plans in the old Superman movies were stupid too!” and you’re like, “Yeah…but…that doesn’t really make it better, right?” I feel it’s kind of the same thing where you could say Waltz’s version is just as dumb as previous versions of the character, but it’s just no fun to watch and especially doesn’t work in the dark and gritty Craig-verse.

    Or it’s like a feature length version of that opening scene in For Your Eyes Only where they’re like “Oh you want to take us to court over this character? Well this is what we think of him!” and they dump him down a smokestack. (Or more accurately it’s like when Vince McMahon bought out WCW and proceeded to bury everyone associated with it when he brought them into WWE). They spent all this time in court to get the rights to this character, and then proceed to tell the world that this is a terrible character they didn’t need in the first place.

    To be honest Blofeld should never have been brought back in to the series – I bet you 90% of moviegoers had no idea who the heck he was, as he hasn’t been seen in like 35 years or the past 10 movies. But I guess the other popular series brought back The Joker and Khan, so we gotta do the same here, right? I just hope the next iteration of Bond doesn’t feel the need to bring him back, because I’d rather see more Le Chiffres and Silvas than this moron.

  65. I just watched this for the for first time in years and I really enjoyed it. After being inoculated with the post action nonsense for years it didn’t bother me so much in this. The pace was great – just non stop action. Every time I started to pick up my phone to check something I had to set it down because something started popping off. It’s a nice reminder of why I enjoy these movies after the slog of SPECTRE.

    One thing that I didn’t notice before that amused me was how Bond called M “ma’am” using the American pronunciation, rather than the British one that sounds like “mum”. Are these considered more of American movies than British, so they catered to the American audience?

  66. I don’t know about that (they are usually the biggest or second biggest film of the year here in any given year they come out), but they do usually have several Americans in key creative positions (except director, until now) and they are keenly aware that the US is the single biggest market in the world for films in general, so especially since the 80s terms no limey would use like “station break” make it to the films.

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