Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughtful Thursday

Hello everyone! This is Puddleglum's dad for this Thoughtful Thursday. I saw the the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, on Sunday. I like the Bond movies, so I'm pretty familiar with the series and its themes and thought I'd weigh in on it here. First of all, I think the title is pretty cool. A lot of people are apparently really confused by it, but it's really quite easy: a "quantum" is the smallest physical object we currently know of, and "solace" is a fancy word for comfort. Therefore, a quantum of solace is an infinitesimally tiny bit of comfort-- which is eminently appropriate for the story, as it turns out.

This one is very much like License to Kill in that it is really more of a revenge tale than a Bond flick. Bond is out to discover who is behind Vesper Lynd's betrayal from the previous movie, and on the way uncovers a secret organization called Quantum which, while not responsible for Vesper's death directly, set in motion events that caused her death. At the end of the movie after Bond gets his revenge (seemingly), he realizes that it only offered him-- wait for it-- a QUANTUM OF SOLACE (!), and is not worth the internal torment and distraction from his duty it caused.

A Bond movie is always evaluated on two levels: 1) its artistry, and 2) its adherence to the "canon" of James Bond-- i.e., martinis, sexy women, fast cars, cool gadgets, sly humor, etc. On the former, it seemed to me to be pretty fair without being spectacular. The majority of the complaints from critics and fans are of the latter kind: that it just wasn't a Bond movie. Personally, I think that they just need to look closer.

Casino Royale (the first one) "rebooted" the franchise by introducing Bond as more gritty, brutal, and coarse (and blonde!) than we are used to. Even amongst all the talk over how great a movie Casino Royale was, there was some concern: is the new Bond for the 21st Century going to be too dark? This movie will probably not allay any fears since it goes over the top with the grit and grime, but I think that that is more to wrap up that side of Bond and justify the transition to the devil-may-care cynicism which permeated the traditional Bond. It's catharsis, and nothing shows that more than the ending of the movie.

Bond drops the necklace Vesper wore (the symbol of his continuing love for her) in the snow and walks away without looking back. That part of his life is over: he will never open his heart again, but he will also never let his personal feelings blind him to his duty again. This is all essential to tell the real story of who Bond is and why he is the way he is. He wraps himself in a suave and cynical demeanor because he has learned his lesson the hard way. He indulges in the best wine, women, and toys because he knows every moment might be his last. Like pretty much all "manly" men Bond is afraid of what he can't control, and highest on that list are his feelings and how others respond to them. Mark my words, the next movie will be a transition to the more traditional Bond, which is why the iconic walk-turn-shoot that usually opens every Bond movie is at the END of this one. Everything in a well-made movie has significance and meaning.

Overall, I felt this movie was artistically enjoyable, and was a good deal more enjoyable as a Bond flick than most people give it credit for. If you're trying to understand Bond as a character and not as just a cool guy with cool toys, this movie is a can't-miss.


Clover said...

Thanks Puddy's dad! That was pretty insightful, and I am glad I read it before going to the movie. Might try to catch it tomorrow night!
Clover's mom

Brutus said...

Thanks for the heads up on the movie. Mom said that she didn't care about the plot as long as that new bond guy was in it and not wearing many clothes. Well she enjoys the action but enjoys the eye candy more, whatever that means.

Aniemother said...

I like your view on it - but I was bored beyond words by the movie(pure action don't do it for me). I started wondering who was obsessed with broken glass, though.. LOL..


Rachel said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I've read some other reviews and I think you may be right. What I hope is that you are right about the next movie - that it does indeed go back to the traditional idea of Bond. Because it makes sense in regards to the emotional insight they've given this character in the last two movies, but also because - the world doesn't need another gritty, dirty, shirt-off, x-con type hero. They need someone with class. Someone who can take down the Russian mafia in a tuxedo without spilling his dirty martini. This is the reason this brand has become popular, and if you allow him to slip into this generic male 'transporter/punisher/XXX' type of guy, then it's bound to lose all of its pizazz.

Nevis said...

We saw the movie and we agree pretty much whole heartedly with what you said. I looooooove Daniel Craig as Bond...not just because he's totally hot, but because he totally works it. He comes off as intelligent, brutal, cold and calculating. Exactly what you'd expect a spy/assasin to be.

As far as issues I had with the movie...I definatly had a few issues with clarity in the middle...the point of the bad guys (the Quantum group) in the movie was a little iffy but Terry pointed out that they will probally deal with them more in future movies.

We quite enjoyed the movie as well.

Lex said...

I haven't seen the movie yet and I am really loking forward to it. Thanks for the review!
From day one we have heard about Daniel Craig being a different Bond but in fact he is the pre Bond, the original. I actually liked him way better then Pierce Brosnan!

The Devil Dog said...

Mom liked it as well. She loved Casino Royale. One of the things mom loves best is that Bond/Craig can look incredibly sexy in a white shirt and tux covered in blood.