The weekly round up of film reviews continues, courtesy of James Bryan...
This week the chosen one returns as James Bond in Quantum of Solace. Although you probably already knew that having endured the mountain of media coverage, special supplements and product placement that accompanies any new Bond film. Give that marketing team an Oscar! Bond is as critically bullet-proof as a film can be and the actual reviews of the film have an air of disappointment about them. As Peter Bradshaw says in his 3-star Guardian review, 'I have to confess that this second Bond adventure disappointed me a little: it's not nearly as smart as Craig's debut. There is not much storyline or romance.'
The consensus seems to be that Craig delivers phenomenally as Bond and is as ‘sadistically efficient as in his debut’ (The Times) but the film itself is too mired in it’s own sense of self-worth and seriousness. Pierce Brosnan might have taken Bond into the outer extremes of self-parody but surely there’s room for a few wry quips and gadgets otherwise it’s just Bourne by another name. As The Independent says: 'The editing is whip-sharp, the pace is breakneck, the adrenalin is flowing. The one tiny fly in the ointment is that we've seen it done before, and done better, by Matt Damon sprinting over the rooftops of Tangiers in The Bourne Ultimatum.'
The Times has an obsession with Bond that borders on the pathological even though the actual review is only 3-star. The verdict is that ‘This instalment of the Bond franchise is lean, mean and all about the action. And, to give it credit, the action sequences are well executed.’ However again there is a feeling of wasted opportunity:
Where are the scenes that give us a glimpse of Bond the man rather than the ruthless killing machine? Where is the note of bruised vulnerability that underscored Craig’s performance in Casino Royale? Where are the loaded conversational battles of wit that allowed the audience – and Vesper Lynd – to really get under 007’s skin?
It all seems coldly efficient and corporate sounding or as The Independent puts it, '"the thrills" spring off the screen with such mechanical efficiency and metronomic regularity that you could almost set your watch by them.’ Presumably your Omega watch that is because the other feature of modern Bond is the distractingly ridiculous amount of product placement. The Times is annoyed: 'Product placement may be a fact of life in big-budget film production but it’s ugly, crass and it devalues the artistic merits of the finished film.'
So overall, Quantum of Solace isn’t a disaster but the franchise needs to move forward and have a sense of identity after Casino Royale. As Peter Bradshaw says, 'Quantum of Solace isn't bad, but from now on, Craig's Bond has to be a real character with something real at stake, however absurd. Otherwise we're going to return to the franchise production line. That would be an awful shame.'