Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Quantum of Clarity
Let me see if I understand this right.
EON Productions takes a moribund James Bond franchise - one almost a parody of itself - which appealed mostly to 60 year old women who just liked cooing over Pierce Brosnan, picks a new, young Bond in Daniel Craig, adapts the first Bond novel for the screenplay, assembles a fantastic supporting cast with a fantastic director, and makes the best Bond movie in years - and arguably, ever - with "Casino Royale". The movie has action, interesting characters like Le Chiffre and Vesper, clear, compelling plotlines, and is beautifully shot. The movie is a smashing success, far beyond what its creators could have hoped. People who never see movies twice (like me) go to see it twice (like me). Ian Fleming's James Bond is introduced to a whole new generation of moviegoers. Everything is in place for a spectacular sequel, and a spectacular resurrection of the franchise.
So, for the sequel, they put together the same team, figuring "why tamper with smashing success?". OH - wait. Sorry. That wasn't them - that was ME, if I'm running EON.
Instead, the geniuses at EON evidently decided to ditch director Martin Campbell, who did a spectacular job with "Casino Royale", and instead hire a guy who has never done ANYTHING to suggest he could successfully direct a Bond movie: young German dude Marc Forster (pictured above). (No doubt the EON folks spent days congratulating themselves on their "bold decision". I wonder if next they'll hire Burt Reynolds to play Prissy in their remake of "Gone with the Wind").
Surprise - the movie is a let-down. Forster is a dud. The photography overall is often irritatingly "jolty" and spastic. The plotlines (what there are of them) are difficult or impossible to make out under all the cinematic "noise" - crashes and chases and fires and shooting and all the crap that Forster puts in to try to (over)compensate for the fact that he has no idea what he's doing here (hint to Forster: those things are supposed to be the icing, not the cake). Worse, dozens of things happen which don't seem to follow from anything we have yet witnessed on the screen, so which are actually fairly confusing (why was Mathes shot? What happened? I went to the movie with six other people, and none of us had any clear idea about what a whole bunch of things meant in the movie). And oh yeah - why is there a luxury hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert?
And the characters. I do not get this. The characters in "Quantum of Solace" aren't even one dimensional. I mean...Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes...a great beauty, a very good actress...what do we get to know about her character except that she wants revenge? She never develops like Vesper did in "Casino Royale". Sad to say, but all Kurylenko is in this movie is a pretty face. I don't get it. A huge opportunity wasted.
And I'm sorry, but Gemma Arterton is quite ridiculous here: wooden, out of place, self-conscious (not that I blame her so much as I blame the Teutonic automaton Forster).
There is a deep sterility to this movie, a lack of human-ness. In the first one, we saw deep emotions - serious love, serious hatred, serious regret, seriously HUMAN elements (remember the scene where Bond starts laughing as he's being tortured, strapped to the chair, in the first one?). In this waste of time, there is no raw emotion, nothing. This movie has no soul.
My advice to people everywhere: don't disassemble your team when it's winning the World Series. And don't hire Marc Forster to direct your action movie.