Friday, November 7, 2008

Quantum of Solace Is One Big Mess

So Jene and I saw QUANTUM OF SOLACE last night at the movie theater in Kowloon Station with the rumbling seats and glorious Shaw Sound (Thank you, Sir Run Run!).

We both loved CASINO ROYALE and became fans of Daniel Craig. So we had a certain level of expectation for the latest 007 film despite having heard that it's not as good.

That assessment turned out to be quite an understatement.

The film was a complete dud. It was more than that. It was an unadulterated mess, the type of movie that gives big-budget mainstream Hollywood movies a bad name.

Hollywood is usually excellent at delivering big-budget action movies that are slick and entertaining. Just look at any BOURNE movie, EAGLE EYE, DIE HARD...

But this one was botched to the point that it had very little redeeming about it. The movie runs about 90 minutes, but it's so clear that it was meant to be much much longer. That longer version must have been so bad that they just hacked it to make it shorter, hoping to minimize the damage.

There's very little that's good about the movie. Not one good sequence. Not one good scene. Even the trademark 007 opening credit sequence with the new Bond song was forgettable. In fact, there were exactly two things I liked about this film(and I am not being facetious here): 1) a CU shot of a lizard in a desert in Bolivia 2) a throwaway line toward the very end of the movie about someone working for "Canadian intelligence", the mere concept of which made me chuckle.

The action scenes (chase scenes) are so poorly crafted that they end up being just confusing. The TIMEOUT HK review makes it sound like this film fails because it has too many high-tech computer-generated special effects action sequences and too few dialogue amongst human scenes, when the truth is the film fails precisely because its action sequences suck. I may seem to be harping on the TIMEOUT review, but to me, those are the absolute laziest film reviews--the argument offered in such phone-it-in paint-by-numbers revies goes like this: This high tech action film is not so good and will not please "traditionalist viewers" because it is all action and does not have enough quiet sentimental human interaction scenes."

The truth is, a major reason that QUANTUM fails and thus disappoints, is precisely that its high tech action stuff doesn't deliver. Its high tech action stuff is subpar. Compare any action sequence in this film to those in CASINO ROYALE, and you'll see the difference between a mess and solid assured execution.

In addition, the villain is weak. The story and dialog are completely lackluster. Don't let the TIMEOUT reviews fool you. This is one of the worst 007 movies ever.

So Jene and I were so disappointed by how poor this film was--the only good thing about this moviegoing experience was that we shelled out the extra bucks to see it in the fancy private screening room with recliners (it was well worth it)--that even though it was late (around midnight) and we were both exhausted, as soon as we came home we watched the opening 20 minutes of CASINO ROYALE on DVD again just to confirm that what we remembered was indeed so.

Martin Campbell, the director of CASINO ROYALE did such a better job. The action sequences are shot and edited so much more crisply and solidly in that film. Script is so much more substantial. That film delivers what it's supposed to, a slick well-crafted action movie that's got real weight.

It's never clear who's at fault or why a film turns out so bad, but the director is always an easy target. I'm not really familiar with Marc Foster, the director of QUANTUM. But I know he directed THE KITE RUNNER, which I thought was okay, despite being a bit clunky in storytelling (I thought it had too many false endings, but that may have been simply to appease the fans of such a well-known book). Anyway, I'm sure Marc Foster is a talented director to even be in the position he is now, but it doesn't show in this film. There certainly were elements in it that belonged in and resembled a good action movie. For instance, the action sequences had fast-pace cutting, cross-cutting etc., but they were confusing and didn't add up to much. I think So Jene summed it up best when she said, "This guy can't make action movies."

Compare the first 20 minutes of CASINO ROYALE, or even the first 3 minutes, or any 3 minutes of that film to its counterpart in QUANTUM, and it's clear that QUANTUM is laughably lacking.

I don't know what the behind-scenes story is, but why wouldn't the people who put up the money for QUANTUM just rehire Martin Campbell after he had done such a stellar job? It's clear they know this film sucks, but are still trying so hard to recoup as much money as possible from it. I've seen Jean Claude Van Damme movies that are better scripted and have better stories.

QUANTUM is going to get very poor word-of-mouth. It leaves the viewer completely dissatisfied. Indeed, it's by far the crummiest big-budget action film we've seen in a long long time. Daniel Craig deserves better than this. The audience deserves better than this. And on top of all that, what the heck does QUANTUM of SOLACE mean exactly?


Winifred said...

Thanks for the warning. I think we'll skip it.

mao365 said...

Check it out later on DVD when you have nothing to do. It may play better on a small screen without the expectations and undivided attention entailed in watching a movie in a theater.

I'd recommend the film only to those die-hard Bond fans, but then again, those folks hardly need any prompting to go see this, right?

Patrick Roberts said...

Quantum of Solace was entertaining for sure, but sometimes i got the feeling that the movie was making fun of itself... every pane of glass Bond crosses has to break, he can't get a gallon of milk from the store without it turning into a chase scene, and every time he punches someone in the face, they die

grover said...

After hearing mixed reviews, I told my wife, "People will still it regardless. It's Bond."

I was a bit sad to find out I was right, though I do enjoy Craig's take on the character.

mao365 said...

Granted a Bond film has a large built-in audience and people will see it regardless...

It'd be good if they put out something worth seeing like CASINO ROYALE