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Quantum Of Solace

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (1959, collected in For Your Eyes Only and Quantum Of Solace)

Written by: Ian Fleming

This is the first time I’ve done this. I’m actually reading a Bond story BEFORE I ever see the movie. I started watching the Bond movies so long ago that I don’t even think that I could read when my eyes were first afflicted. But, now that they’re going back (sort of) to the original source material, it’s a bit easier to do.

Here’s the problem with this one: Quantum Of Solace the short story has NOTHING to do with Quantum Of Solace the movie. They just felt the need to use an actual Ian Fleming title, so they took the last one that actually sounded like a movie that hadn’t been used yet and ran with it.

But let’s talk about the story first.

Bond is at a cocktail party with three people that he doesn’t really like. Two of them are a married couple he has never had any dealings with and hopes that he never does again and the other is the governor of the Bahamas. After the other two guests leave, Bond knows that he is stuck talking to the governor for at least another hour before he can make his escape.

This is when the governor starts telling him a very interesting story. It’s a story of intrigue and infidelity. Well, sort of. It’s about an old friend of his whose beautiful wife cheated on him. The story goes on for a while before the governor gets to the rather nasty (but non-violent) revenge that the man gets on his wife.

The story doesn’t really go anywhere and, to most people, it would be kind of a waste of time. Certainly not something to base a feature-length movie on. And certainly not a Bond movie.

What the story does, though, is give us an insight into Bond’s character. The little asides about women and how they should be treated and what they are capable of really show us where Bond is coming from. And, by the end of the story, he has some new insights into women.

Not an amazing or adventurous story by any means, but certainly an interesting one for someone looking for something new from the Bond character.

And what the hell’s up with that title? The governor has made up what he calls the Law Of The Quantum Of Solace. Basically, it means that one can put up with anything as long as he has even a little bit of love for the other person. As soon as that love is gone, as soon as he no longer cares if the other person lives or dies, he can do anything to that person, including leaving them absolutely destitute.

GLOBE HOPPING: He’s in the Bahamas, but he doesn’t hop anywhere.

CONQUESTS: He’s sitting in a living room with an old governor. Who’s he gonna conquer?

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)

Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Paul Haggis/Neal Purvis/Robert Wade
Based on characters by: Ian Fleming

So, what did they do to spice things up for a movie? Well, first off, they got rid of everything but the title. I was thinking that maybe a character survived or he would go to a cocktail party in the Bahamas. Nope. Everything was scrapped. Which, honestly, is fine. Maybe it would have been nice to have a Philip Masters or something, but whatever. Doesn’t matter.

Since I saw this in the theatre, though, let’s get a few previews in here. Sorry for the intrusion, but I gotta.

VALKYRIE–Damn Tom Cruise for always getting interesting projects. But, maybe now that he has started to actually act, he’ll interest me a bit more. Here he plays one of the Nazi soldiers plotting to kill Hitler. And with Bryan Singer at the helm, I can’t wait to see it.

STAR TREK–I can’t freakin’ wait for this one. It looks really awesome. It starts with Kirk as a kid, and goes I guess all the way to his first mission…which also includes him fighting with Spock. And having what looks to be a real sex scene. Crazy what JJ Abrams has done to an old franchise, huh?

BEDTIME STORIES–Adam Sandler stars as an uncle who tells his nephews bedtime stories. The next day, parts of the stories come true, so he starts manipulating them. Whatever. Looks like standard Sandler fare with a slightly more kid-friendly bent. (It’s a Disney flick.) Maybe a renter.

THE INTERNATIONAL–May not have an amazing premise (the International Bank controls everything and Clive Owen wants to bring them down), but I want to see it. Pretty much anything with Owen in it has to at least be fun. It has a few other things going for it, too: Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) directed, Naomi Watts co-stars and there’s a shoot-out at the Guggenheim. Yep. I’m there.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL–Sigh. Yet another remake of a classic sci-fi flick that will most likely lose all of the meaning of the original. And they cast Keanu Reeves in the (admittedly wooden) lead role. WTF?!?! At least Jennifer Connelly is along to show us SOME talent. I’ll probably see it, dammit.

SEVEN POUNDS–Like 21 Grams before it, we don’t really know going in what the title is referring to. But I bet it has something to do with how much Will Smith’s conscience weighs. He did something terrible to his family and now he’s making up for it…by making another feel-good movie with his director from The Pursuit Of Happyness. Looks more interesting than that one, but still could be better.

YES MAN–Is this the sequel to Liar, Liar? It sure looks like it. Jim Carrey as a man who has said “No” all his life. Now, because of General Zod, he’s going to say “Yes” to everything. But, you know, if it gets Zooey Deschanel in your life, go for it, dude. Maybe I’ll rent it sometime.

Ok, all done with the previews. Time to move on to the movie at hand.

James Bond (Daniel Craig being just as amazing as Bond as he was in Casino Royale) is at a crossroads in his life. He has just lost the only woman he has ever loved. Now he has to find the people who forced her to kill herself. If only he could admit to the pain that he is feeling or to his own need for revenge.

But life must go on. His next assignment helps, but it involves finding Vesper’s killers/employers. That’s no way to put things behind you.

M (Judi Dench) knows the pain that James is going through, but she needs him now more than ever. She puts him right in the middle of the action, hoping to find out who this new gang of thugs is and where they came from. After finding one of them, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen, who showed up at the very end of Casino Royale), they find out that the gang, QUANTUM, goes much higher and much deeper than they ever thought possible.

Bond goes on a journey that gets his license revoked and puts him in league with the beautiful but dangerous Camille (Olga Kurylenko from Hitman and Max Payne). She is after General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), the man who killed her family and has just taken over her country. He, in turn, is about to go into business with the mysterious Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric from The Diving Bell And The Butterfly). Greene is a card-carrying member of QUANTUM and has some plot possibly involving the control of oil. But his cover company is supposedly doing everything they can for the environment.

Confused? It makes a bit more sense in context of the film…a bit.

The action is pretty non-stop and the Bondian flair is, for the most part, all there. Many people have complained that it doesn’t feel like a Bond film. I think it mostly does. There are moments where it could have been a Bourne film, but I think there’s enough of Bond for it to please the fans. He just doesn’t have an invisible car to drive around in. The gadgets are mostly left to M and her crew. DAMN, I want one of those computers!)

The women are an interesting group, too. Craig’s Bond doesn’t treat women as sex objects. Not really. Oh, they’re still objects. No doubt there. But they are more or less objects that he uses to get what he wants. If the only way to get that thing is to have sex with the woman, so be it. But sex is not his top concern. He has sex with one woman in this film: the nearly wasted Fields (Gemma Arterton…everyone says that her first name in the movie is Strawberry, but she never mentions it). She is trying to take Bond in to M for debriefing. Instead, he debriefs her. He doesn’t necessarily do it because he feels any desire for her, but because he knows that this will stop her from taking him in and get her on his side. He never once tries to have sex with Camille. They kiss, but it is a pretty chaste kiss, relatively.

So, do these two women live up to the rest of the Bond Girls? I think so. I mean, Fields is barely in the movie. She does her job and gets out (kinda). Camille, on the other hand, is a sexy action girl who wants revenge just as much as Bond does. They share moments of intimacy that have nothing to do with sex and everything to do with the job at hand. “Have you ever killed anyone?” If that moment wasn’t more intimate than Bond kissing Fields’ back, then I don’t know what intimacy is.

Amalric is not as great as he was as the paralyzed fashion magazine editor, but he was very good. He’s slimy, slick and evil to the core. And in the final climax he is so incensed that Bond has lost him a chance for more money that he screams like a woman as he throws an ax at Bond’s head over and over again. I don’t know why, but I loved it.

Overall, I really liked the movie. No, it’s not as good as Casino Royale. But they set the bar so high on that one, that it’s going to be very hard for them to top it. Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster’s Ball) does an admirable job on his first action film, although the action is sometimes shot a bit too closely. It’s a little hard to tell what’s going on at times. Did Bond steal the machine gun from the guy in the next car? Or was it always right there in his passenger seat the whole time? Whatever. It worked well and I liked it. I can’t wait to see what he does with World War Z.

I’m not even going to bother with the whole “comparing the movie to the book” bit. That’s pointless here.

As for that weird title…it fits perfectly. Even if the evil organization hadn’t been called QUANTUM (which, as yet, is an acronym without a meaning), it would have fit. James is looking for his modicum of chillax. (I wish I could take complete credit for that, but part of the credit must go to my buddy, hooliganyouth…although he didn’t like the movie.) Will he find it in revenge? Or will he just keep on wagon training?

Another plus, check out that Jack White/Alicia Keyes theme song. It pretty much rocks. And the credit sequence (while lacking the usual Bond cross hair and silhouette) is almost its equal. I almost want to buy the score just for this song. (Who am I kidding? I probably will just because it’s Jack White and he’s amazingly awesome.)

GLOBE HOPPING: 6? 7? I lost count. Kinda hard to count when you’re in a theatre seeing a movie for the first time.

CONQUESTS: 1: Agent Fields