Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Nov 14, 2008

Quantum of Solace

I have to say that I still like Daniel Craig as the new James Bond more than I expected to, but there's something fundamentally *off* about Quantum of Solace. It's difficult to put your finger on precisely what's wrong with the movie, but it falls seriously flat.

The first thing that is obviously not right is the plot. It starts out well enough, with Bond on a mission to root out the secret organization that was moving behind the scenes in Casino Royale. There is actually quite a bit of highly entertaining cleverness as James runs into unexpected situations, yet takes advantage of them with skill and iron nerves. He manages to track down a man who has all the hallmarks of being the organization's go-to guy, a minor cog in the machine that might lead to greater cogs and exposure of the entire complex.

And there it just kind of . . . stops. Instead of leading into a fantastic global conspiracy or anything that might resemble a real Bond villain, you get left with a sordid little two-bit scam. A scam. To corner the water market. In Bolivia.

Let me reiterate: Global high-powered conspiracy turns into scam to corner the water market in Bolivia. Not even a particularly *clever* scam, either, if you know *anything* about basic economics. The villain's big threat? "We now control 60% of the water resources in the country."

Okay, let's follow this logic for just a second here. What the heck are they going to do with that water? Keep in mind that they've just spent a tremendous amount of money building secret underground dams in order to collect this water. If they just *cut off the supply*, they've sunk a bunch of money into this scheme for nothing . . . except that the price of water will skyrocket and all their *competitors* (you know, the people who control the remaining 40%) will make a killing. Or, let's say they raise their prices through the roof--then their competitors will just charge slightly less and STILL make a killing, because all those competitors aren't bearing the cost of building all the expensive secret dams.

I mean, it's literally mind-boggling how bad of an idea this scam is. I think it's probably about 80% of what's wrong with the movie, really, but coupled with the stoic, low-key acting, the fact that numerous characters are marched onscreen only to be resolutely whacked several scenes later, and that no one really seems interested in the GLOBAL CONSPIRACY going on in the background, and you have a real recipe for a train wreck.

Yes, there are chase scenes and explosions, but granted that most of the action scenes use the fast-cuts-violently-shaking-camera cinematography that for some reason has become popular, they just aren't as cool as you might think. The occasional moment where the camera HOLDS STILL so that you can actually watch what's going on is really awesome. The rest of the movie, not so much.

Heck, even the TRAILERS were boring. An Adam Sandler/Walt Disney comedy. Eh. A new movie about a plot to assassinate Hitler--starring Tom cruise. PASS. A disaster movie starring Keanu Reaves. PAAAASSS. A conspiracy movie starring that guy from Shoot 'Em Up involving an Evil Bank--can you say "ripped from the headlines" topical crapola? PASS!!



Ryan Alger said...

Ha! Yeah, economic sense dosen't make it movies too often.

But wasen't there a trailer for the new "Star Trek" movie?

media boy said...

Quantum of Solace is entertaining at least... a fantastic job with the styling and picture quality, but the movie as a whole could stand to lose six or seven fewer chase scenes

Darth Krzysztof said...

Is it just me, or is the guy "playing" Beam (the CIA blowhard) just channeling Philip Seymour Hoffman's character from Charlie Wilson's War? I found the similarity -really- distracting.

About the MacGuffin: maybe they were trying to invoke the ghost of Noah Cross, John Huston's very sinister character from Chinatown, who was running a similar scheme (although his had the benefit of historical basis). Greene doesn't get to -do- a whole lot of evil stuff in the film, after all. But he'd need to WIN to hold a candle to Cross, or else have a grand/daughter. :(

In any case, the whole scheme dilutes the hunt for Quantum (QUANTUM? Q.U.A.N.T.U.M.?), which, as you say, seems like it ought to be the real objective.

Did you not see the Star Trek trailer? I may allow myself to get excited, if I ever forgive Paramount for pushing it back half a year. (Same to WB and their Half-Blood Prince dickery.)

Phoroneus said...

I agree completely, the fight scenes are what really threw me off. You never had a really vicious man on man fight in it (I refuse to count that hotel thing with the tiny scissors as a fight), the most epic fight he had was when that clown managed to get an axe. Much less compelling than his fight in Royale where he choked the man to death. And the swinging around caught on ropes thing. Really? And let's not talk about the Jack White/Alicia Keys intro song.

Jennifer Snow said...

Supposedly, the Bolivian Water Scam thing was based on real events--namely the World Bank forcing Bolivia to privatize its water system and the resulting water riots.

Which only makes it lamer, really, because that means they were trying to be "relevant". :P

Jennifer Snow said...

Oh, and no Star Trek trailer.