Quantum Theory: UTB Reviews The New James Bond Movie
November 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm
Before the release of Casino Royale in 2006, there was mass speculation, bordering on entertainment media frenzy, about Daniel Craig’s ability to play Ian Fleming’s famed British agent; his hair color (blonde!) and his eye color (blue!) were among nay-sayers’ chief talking points. But if there were any skeptics left after Craig’s complete reinvention of the character in his first attempt at 007, his second, Quantum of Solace, is sure to silence them.
The 22nd film in the Bond series picks up shortly where its predecessor left off. Just after losing love-of-his-life Vesper to some mysterious henchman from some mysterious corporation, Bond is back–with a literal vengeance. Like the true sequel it is, Quantum plunges straight into the action without any background; the opening sequence is an extended car chase through the streets of Siena, Italy, with absolutely no explanations given for why Bond is treating his gorgeous Aston Martin so shabbily. Of course, the audience soon becomes privy to the world-dominating plot from the series’ 22nd villain (played to a creepy tee by Mathieu Amalric).
But the film’s major drawback is foreshadowed in its confusing opening chase: the bad guys, an organization called QUANTUM, are definitely up to something, but it’s never completely clear what that something might be. Sure, they finance juntas in third-world countries, and sure, they want to hold a monopoly on Bolivia’s oil, or water, or, um, diamonds? Well it’s something super-important. After all, QUANTUM is a really fancy-sounding acronym, even though the word only gets mentioned once in the entire movie, and we never get to learn what it stands for.
Of course, plot has never been the Bond series’ strong point, and there’s a reason: it doesn’t really matter. The action sequences in Quantum are divine–-there’s actually a plane chase-–and Craig has struck such a perfect balance between Bond’s unshakeable cool and his inconsolable grief that the effects on screen are electric. Whether or not it’s clear whom Bond is fighting, there is never any doubt that he will win, and that he will walk away completely unshaken. The man is unflappable, as evidenced by a scene where Bond tourniquets off his own bleeding artery without so much as a grimace. Throughout the entire film, though, through all the gore, girls, and gin, there is an unspeakable grief behind Craig’s eyes. The icy blue that made Craig such a controversial choice is actually one of his greatest assets; the new Bond’s piercing stare resonates more strongly than any cockamamie scheme possibly could. Quantum excels at building the human, wounded, side of Bond that was first established in Casino Royale, not only through his grief for Vesper, but also through his fierce protectiveness of Judi Dench’s M. While Bond has always been cool (and hot), he’s never before been quite this human. But, it turns out, humanity looks better on Bond than a tux ever did.