Blurred, Not Stirred
James Bond becomes a killing machine in Quantum of Solace, the second outing for Daniel Craig as British Agent 007. Sounds exciting, right? However, for some Bond fans like me, sitting through a film that lacks our favorite secret agent’s traditional humor -- and those incredible gadgets we’ve come to expect -- can be disappointing indeed. But when all the action sequences appear like a series of blurry images on screen, we're more than disappointed, and we can't help shouting “Cease and desist!”
Granted, filming well-choreographed action scenes must be a challenging task, but they definitely add considerable quality to films of this genre. Although jerky, hand-held camera work plus nanosecond editing sometimes contribute to a movie’s emotional pull, this approach leaves many viewers confused about what’s happening on screen, or -- even worse -- with painful migraine headaches. That’s why I’ve formed the SPJCW (Society for the Prevention of Jerky Camera Work). I hope you’ll join this worthy organization.
Oh, how I wanted to enjoy the opening car chase in Quantum of Solace as well as the film’s numerous other action sequences! Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed as everything blurred before me. In between these scenes, Craig’s Bond ruthlessly eliminates anyone who gets in his way as he tries to find the murderer of Vespa, his lover in the much superior Casino Royale. When an attempt is made on the life of someone else close to him, Bond goes into vengeance overdrive. His boss, “M” (Judi Dench) worries that revenge, not duty, is now 007’s primary motivation -- and she tries to deal with that possibility. But “M” needs Bond’s help in stopping a dangerous organization that uses ecology as a cover for its diabolical take-over plans.
Assisting Bond along the way are: Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a smoldering beauty with an agenda of her own; Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), both refugees from Casino Royale; and -- SPOILER ALERT -- the lovely Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), who serves as a nod to Goldfinger, one of my favorite Bond films, in one brief shot.
As far as Bond villains go, wealthy entrepreneur Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric) can’t compare with top Bond bad guys like Oddjob from Goldfinger and Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me. Almaric is a brilliant actor, and his work in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly touched me deeply. However, he looks about as scary as a panda here.
Is Quantum of Solace a total washout? Not quite. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench project enough charisma to make the film worth watching -- at least when the blurry action stuff subsides. There’s also a couple of fascinating, though too short, glimpses of Tosca presented in high-tech mode. It’s the best eye-popping sequence in Quantum and could make an opera lover out of the most tone-deaf viewer.
REMINDER: I urge all migraine-prone moviegoers to join the SPJCW. Let’s work together to make sure the next Bond movie is visually coherent. Time is of the essence. We only have until 2010 to accomplish our important mission.
(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.)
For more information about Quantum of Solace, please go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.
Listen to Betty Jo Tucker and Adam Hakari discuss this latest 007 movie by clicking here on or after November 25.