Monday, November 24, 2008

LÅT DEN RÄTTE KOMMA IN (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN): MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Country: Sweden
Language: Swedish
Runtime: 114 min.
Rating: *****
Genre: Drama, Horror

        That young girl covered in blood you see in the image above is Eli (Lina Leandersson), and she is a vampire. The opening moments of the film show her being driven by a middle-age man, who we presume is her father and who we later learn is Hakan. They’re moving into a new neighborhood, which might as well be a new world. Hakan quickly and quite efficiently gets down to his business as he covers all the windows of the apartment with the sides of cardboard boxes. The next morning we see him pack his gear to hunt down people so that he could collect blood in a canister. He is not a vampire himself, but a guardian to one. She is 12-year old. Forever. And we wonder. Not only about Eli, but about Hakan.
        And about Oskar. A 12-year old too, and the apartment Eli and Hakan move into is right next to his. Open the window, or get right next to the adjacent wall, and one can hear everything. Even as much as a knock. Now this boy, Oskar, he is a strange lad. A lonely lad lost deep in his own world. He is bullied, often cruelly, and he accepts the pain as if he believes he deserves it. He lies about his injuries. He carries a knife around hidden deep in his jacket, which he doesn’t use for self-defense but to stand in attacking postures against inanimate trees and mimic his school bullies, and dreaming of murdering them some day. If he grows into a high school shooter, I wouldn’t be surprised.
        And he meets Eli. They grow towards each other, the outsiders, drawn into each other’s lonely existences. Let The Right One In is a very special film, a very rare film. It is a film that understands kids, and doesn’t condescend upon them by attributing either an out of place adult behavior or asking them to behave like two-dimensional sugar cubicles. Kids are individuals too, you know, impressionable individuals who aren’t constrained by the conventional social wisdom, its morality its various orientation and outlook. They’re discovering their world, as we all are, and I believe the best thing I could say about this Swedish film is that it feels as if it is discovering itself too. If anything is indeed preordained, it doesn’t feel that way. I am sure I do not recall even a single false moment in the entire picture. It has sequences where corpses, blood, and vampire make for the background while a moment as innocent and as tender as a first kiss touches us. It is a film that warms us and haunts us, moves us and disturbs us, and often at the same time. The fact of the matter is that Let The Right One In, as all remarkable films, diminishes drastically when described. It has to be felt to be realized what a beautiful gem it is. And you might have to ponder over a great length of time to realize what you truly feel.
        But then, let me attempt, to describe the film for you by telling what isn’t shown, and leave you with the eager desire to watch the film. For that I might have to discuss Hakan, and although we aren’t served any details concerning him whatsoever, his actions and the few words serve a mighty lot in understanding him and Eli and imagine the probable fate of her romance with Oskar. But then, is it even a romance? The film provides us with no definitive answer, and rightfully so. Hakan says to Eli – There’re people who know my face, and who know that I live here with you. She remarks – Maybe you shouldn’t. Without missing a beat, he answers – What else am I good for? She lays her hand on his face, and he closes his eyes, as if remembering a lost time from a distant past. Maybe, quite a few years before, Hakan was a lost child too. Lost in himself. Having nobody as a friend. And you wonder, what wouldn’t someone do for love? He seems like a miserable man, one who’s aware of his own misery but is willfully choosing to live and die by it. It is pure in that way how one chooses to leave everything worldly to serve God for the rest of their life. Even if that God is glaringly imperfect. Because, some part of them knows, what else are they good for? Is it a tragic, shattering thought, or one that’s comforting? I don’t know. Maybe, loneliness is the greatest tragedy mankind has ever known. Maybe, feeling the pain, feeling the misery, feeling the envy of having the only person you have ever known pass by is way better than feeling utter loneliness. I can’t say for certain.
        I believe the film is ambiguous in what it wants you to feel. If one chose to, one could look at the tender relationship between Eli and Oskar with deep cynicism, and branding it a bleak tragedy. I’m not sure that is the case, even though there’s great truth behind the reasons for that cynical view. There is something so pure and innocent in their attachment, though both need the each other for vastly different reasons. Maybe Oskar doesn’t understand, and maybe he will in time. And accept it. He’ll then probably understand the real significance of Eli’s question too – If I wasn’t a girl, would you like me anyway? You’ll realize what I’m talking about when we see a flash of Eli’s genitalia. She doesn’t want to keep him in the dark, or misguide him. He replies – I suppose so. But we might never know. And that is what makes it so special, and one of the greatest horror films of recent times. It inhabits your mind and knocks its presence long after you have seen it, and you’re wondering about the fate of Oskar. And Eli. You wonder if there’s anything more tragic than her existence, and you wonder if she realizes that. And then you wonder, if true, innocent and pure love, if it existed, knew any boundaries. And what is the farthest would it make someone go.
        There’s great power in the unsaid, and a good film can channel that power to a great degree to serve itself. Not much is said in the dying moments of Heat, but as Elliot Goldenthal’s score starts floating about Pacino and De Niro, there’s a strange consoling effect that might never wane. I learn, courtesy the discussion board of the film on IMDb, that the novel has a great deal to say about the history of the characters, and lots of it is spelled out leaving nothing for our imagination. Here, Alfredson brilliantly perceives the mysterious aspect of the unsaid, and leaves us with the same unsettling effect we feel for the dark. We’re in dark about the past, and we’ve no idea what the future holds for them. The young actors, with their rigidity, offer a great degree of natural charm. Their performances do not seem measured, but organic. Much of the film involves them, and the way their scenes develop feels as if the film has no idea where these two kids will take it, and it is just following it. Their love and affection for the other doesn’t really know any boundaries and it might actually be a greatly comforting emotion. And yes, the final moment of the film is flushed with bright sunlight. But for me, an outsider, such brightness is as bleak as the darkness of the night. And that makes me shiver with horror.

DEATH RACE: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Runtime: 101 min.
Rating: ***1/2
Genre: Action

        Sometimes you don’t want to negotiate traffic, but just hit the gas and drive. So fast and so straight even bothering about turning the wheel as much as a fraction of a degree feels like real labor. Death Race is that kind of a film, hitting just the right buttons on your way to instant satisfaction. Kinda like Maggi noodles. Doesn’t exactly taste like your mom’s finest, but what the heck, you would enjoy it just as much as long as it lasts. And at the same time, you wouldn’t want to have any more of it. This isn’t the next great artistic achievement in motion pictures, and neither is it promising thus. What it promises though it delivers in real knockout style. As in, not meandering into unnecessary territory and delivering all out on both death and race. What’s not to like here? Cars? Good. Monster trucks? Good. Revved up engines? Roaring good. Chases? Yeah, good. Explosions? Good. Obligatory deaths? Lots of them, and good. Curves? Flashes only, but sexy and good. Blood? Oh yeah, economically spilt and good. Stunts? Nice, good. Dumbness? Bucketsful, and good. Statham? Good. Joan Allen? What the hell is she doing here?
        I mean, you really can’t go much wrong with cars and trucks and chases and races and Jason Statham. That guy lends any preposterous stupidity more than an air of credibility. He is Jensen Ames, who in turn plays 4-time death race champion Frankenstein in this remake of the 1975 Roger Corman produced cult classic Death Race 2000 (not to confuse cult with being good). See, what happens is extremely simple, and there’re practically no spoilers to be had. The plot might as well be laid out in the placard upfront and it wouldn’t have made one iota of difference. I can layout the entire picture right in front of you, verbatim, and I wouldn’t dent as much as a scar in your viewing experience. I mean, how do I describe car chases and dumb rhetoric dialog. Flipping cars got to be seen. And when the superbitch of the house says, I always win, you got to hear it to snicker.
        The superbitch I’m talking about is Hennessey (Joan Allen), who runs what’s allegedly the most badass penitentiary in the whole of civilized world. The world of 2012, after the world economy has crumbled. There’s a new concept of making gladiators out of prisoners much like they used to do with slaves during the Roman Empire. Yeah, I know you realize these are attempts at satire and all, and I hope they don’t put you off. They’re minor jabs really, and amidst all the noise and explosions they’re as lost as Rob Schneider at Oscars. So, never mind. People seem to have grown bored out of all the WWE style fights and herein comes death race. A real all-out showdown deal. Ben-hur style. Only that in place of chariots, we have Mustangs with V-8 supercharged engines, self-defense plates called Tombstones (don’t ask me why), and machine guns and eject seats and napalm and smoke. Power add-ons to be had. And one superhot babe per vehicle as your navigator, but only if you are straight. See, you do have rights and your right to choose extends there as well. There’s more but I hope you get the picture. And yeah, there’s the small matter of Jensen’s wife being murdered and him being implicated. Why? So that he could be arrested and brought to her fortress where she could replace the original Frankenstein who was killed in a race. Just in case you’re wondering, Frankenstein always wore an iron mask and no one ever knew who he was. The Man in the Iron Mask meets Ben-hur meets a badass Jason Statham B-flick? Count me in, big time.
        See, the entire roadmap is crystal clear, much like those roads in your computer race games, and all you need is to drive along. I recently heard the word Carmageddon, and Carpocalypse. This is it. This is the one designed to deliver concentrated payloads of The Road Warrior. Flipping cars being hit my rockets so that they flip over the track. Real smash-em-up. Pour in the most credible action star of today, and real lightning pace from Paul W.S. Anderson, and you have a mighty deal on your hands. Statham is like those tough guys we all miss now, I mean the real tough nuts (Lee Marvin, Stallone, Schwarzenegger), and he is one of those guys who is keeping the old-school action flick alive. With gratuitous violence. With big bad monster cars. With super dumb villains. With loud noise. And with style.

Monday, November 17, 2008

PRIDE AND GLORY: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Runtime: 125 min.
Rating: *
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

        I walk into Pride and Glory having watched the trailer, and my instincts suggest to me real strong that there might be no point in watching the film. I walk into it knowing quite well that it is about cops and corruption, and the Tierneys, who might as well be the first family of the NYPD. I walk into it knowing quite well that it has impossible dialog, some of which go like “We protect our own”. And yet, I walk into it. And if the first ten minutes suggest anything, the star of the show was the f-word, making an appearance at strange and unexpected places. If I would try to imitate the film, and employ its style to give you a fair idea how it uses its f-word, the last part of the previous sentence would sound like – f***ing making an f***ing appearance at f***ing strange and f***ing c***su**ing unexpected f***ing places. Yeah, more or less. Please note that the c-word is the unexpected contender for performance in a supporting role.
        Yet I wade through it all, and pretend to be intrigued by the plot. It seems like a matter of 4 cops getting killed having ventured out on an encounter, and the drug guy is missing. His name happens to be Tezo. It is a matter of grave concern and the New York’s finest rope in their finest to investigate the matter. Enter papa Tierney (Jon Voight), who knows the finest of the finest is. It is his son Ray (Norton), and while they meet in a public toilet down at the hospital where one of the cops is battling for his life, we learn that Ray has a dark history and he is reluctant to join the special task force. Papa Tierney is all over him, bludgeoning him with impossible dialog like – keep the rage, cut the rest of it. This is when I see the roadmap to hell quite distinctly drawn.
        And herein, I got a little confession to make. I did a little mischievous exercise, and courtesy that I’m not sure how seriously you ought to take my opinion on the film. There was this domestic problem, and I decided to have the phone call right then. I walked out of the screening wanting to test myself if I could stay with the film even after I miss ten minutes of it. I called, solved the problem, and came back.
        The following is the review of the rest of it.
        Pride and Glory looks, feels and develops like that standard issue amalgamation of cop and family drama. So much so that I believe there’re quite a few scripts still around, waiting for their turn. I shudder. Let me describe for you the Tierneys, a bunch who seem to have the potential to creep into every crevice of the NYPD. Papa Tierney and good son Ray are done. There’s another son, good one too, and he’s Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich), whose wife is just done with her chemo and is counting her last days. When you see her for the first time, you immediately realize there is going to be a lot of footage concerning her misfortune, which might somehow lead to somewhere. Again, you shudder. If you aren’t, you probably should. There’s Megan, a nurse, and thank god we’re spared anything of her. She’s married to Jimmy (Farrell), who happens to be one of Francis Jr.’s cops, and works on the street.
        Now, you expect a film like this to at least spare you the family bullshit and scamper along resolving itself. Nope, because the film has ambitions to be the next verifiable Godfather. And you ought to shudder again. Jimmy is the rotten one, and Francis Jr., in his turn, does know enough, but doesn’t know enough, because he doesn’t take the green, and he is somehow innocent because I’m confused. Chances are, you would be too. But of course, you could choose to skip it entirely and resolve your domestic problems right down at your home.
        You know you’re in trouble when Jimmy is visited by a guy whom you would pick straight out of a lineup no matter you know him or not (I concur with Ebert), yet Megan doesn’t register even a shred of surprise. You know you’re in real a real s***hole when Ray, who’s real fluent in Mexican, investigating Tezo’s wife who only speaks Mexican, chooses to repeat whatever he says in both the languages just so to ensure that we and Tezo’s wife are very much on the same page. The film is running head down like a bull towards its mark of utter impossibility, and all you do is sink deeper into your chairs. It is probably one of the dullest time I have had this year. Probably right alongside that Sunday when I waited in a queue and watched the barber cut somebody else’s hair only to learn that the guy was interested in a facial too. The drab runs for 110 impossible minutes, before somebody declares – This sh** ends now. You’re so down and out you get up there and then towards the EXIT. But no, they have got to show how it ends, and the way they do is a very, very bad idea. A terrible idea. A horrible idea. The resolution involves a fistfight between brothers (Ray and Jimmy). Now if there was a really bad time to have a fistfight, this was one because the cops are in real trouble with their collective faces smeared all over the dailies. But they do, and it does end after all. And then, you would bother why? But then, you really don’t have to.

EAGLE EYE: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Shia Labeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thornton, Rosario Dawson
Director: D J Caruso
Runtime: 118 min.
Rating: **
Genre: Action, Thriller

        Preposterous could apply not only for a shining new example, and while it is at it it might also do well to apply for a new definition. That would be Eagle Eye, and the film on its end could do well if it could tag along a handy warning that those who don’t have the stomach for the outrageous absurdity in store ought to stay away from the premises. It all starts slow, a preposterous development every five minutes and it accelerates so bad as the ending comes near piling one absurdity over another in gigantic heaps that you might wonder if plausible is a possible synonym. Don’t ask me why but I still want to recommend it, because if there was one element going for it, it is that it scampers along at one hell of a pace. So fast, sometimes you wonder if slow is a possible synonym.
        Eagle Eye borrows from a thousand, probably a million different sources. You would smell the distinct stink of North by Northwest and 2001, and maybe some Enemy of the State. It is grateful enough to have one of its system operators named Bowman, and I appreciate that. I would have appreciated it even more if the system in place, a possible replica of HAL, did watch the Kubrick masterpiece. I mean, you might wonder the whole way that why doesn’t anybody summon the balls to actually shove something up the system’s you know where. Bad stuff stack up so high that and the odds against a happy all-live-peacefully victory at the end seem so insurmountable you wonder if defeat is a possible synonym. But that doesn’t end up the case for you will find yourself aghast because everything resolves neatly and that stockpile is shattered to pieces courtesy someone actually shoving up something like a rod somewhere. As in, manual intervention. So neat, you wonder if absolute mess is a possible synonym.
        Jerry Shaw is a copy boy, sorry a copy associate was it, and he is kinda like trekking through life. Tragedy strikes when his twin brother, and the better son, dies in a midnight accident. You see, this is a scenario where there’s a lot of potential for mistaken identity when it comes to twins, more so when the deceased happened to work for the counterintelligence. Jerry enters his rooms and finds that it has metamorphosed into what can only be termed a miniature high tech military warehouse, with weapons all over the place. He is stunned, you know, as he should be, when he gets a phone call from somebody to run away ASAP. Don’t ask why that somebody took the pains to ship all that stuff into Jerry’s house only to ask of him to run. Never mind. Jerry doesn’t listen because he is too busy being stunned. The FBI drop in from the skies and the roofs and the windows (anywhere but the door), and he is installed in an interrogation room. Enter Badass FBI agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) whose end of the deal is to talk straight and funny, and declare to Jerry that he is a “shitload” of trouble. Got it man. Got it real straight.
        Now, if I give mapping Eagle Eye in the context of its technological advancement a chance, I might probably end up nearer to 2199. Yeah, the year when Morpheus pulled Neo out of the Matrix. Of course, if I give the same a chance in the context of its story, I might probably end up nearer to the Jurassic era. Of course the film assumes it is real clever. So clever you wonder if dumb is a possible synonym. The trick is to pile up developments thick and fast, so that you don’t even muster the breath in your lungs to spell r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s.
        Let me lay out what is in store for you. I’m not sure it is a spoiler because I’m quoting right out of the trailer.
        Jerry is in the FBI office. He gets a phone call saying that the Attorney General has acknowledged his right to an attorney. He walks into a room that has nice wall to wall glass windows, probably Saint Gobain, because you can see the background real clear. Clear as in crystal. The arm of a crane is moving harmlessly. Jerry picks up the phone and the woman at the other end asks him to duck, and just as he does, the crane shatters the whole floor. The woman asks him to jump. He walks out of the window and looks at the building in front where a electronic signal reads JUMP JERRY SHAW. He jumps, a trifle late. He has jumped on the tracks. The oncoming train narrowly misses him. Another electronic signal somewhere reads BOARD THE TRAIN. He boards a train standing on the track in front. The train runs. A phone starts to ring. It is the passenger’s who’s sitting on the seat on the other end of aisle. It reads PICK UP JERRY. You’re already tearing your hair apart. The expression on your face if read would amount to a collective “What the….”, but you wouldn’t make it to the f-word because there’s another electronic signal waiting for Jerry, and you. Of course it isn’t any comforting to learn that things are just getting started. The action is still in first gear. The picture still has to get into manual overdrive and you still have to wonder if auto-pilot mode is a possible synonym.
        I won’t go any further and I guess you now might have a fair idea what’s the deal. Let me talk about the action sequences, which involves a lot of stuff blowing up, planes in tunnels, and cars being picked up by cranes (cranes that might choose to audition for next year’s Terminator Salvation). At their best, they’re noisy. At their worst, they’re incoherent. I could say I had a fair idea what was going on, but not necessarily how things were panning out. I was yawning, and waiting for the film to pick me up and drop me into the next scene. And in between, I was merely wondering why the plot existed. You know, when a system can make a plane fly, a train go backwards, and can kill a man for obstructing its designated task, a small matter of hurling a few birds towards the designated targets ought not to be that big a deal. You’ll understand what I am saying when you see the film, though I am not sure you ought to.
        But there will be many who I believe will be entertained by the film. That’s because there’s an attitude to these kind of films, which usually goes along the line of accepting it and enjoying. I believe that might be the right way to watch such films too, but often the stuff thrown at us is so depressingly outlandish and the will to accept is stretched so thin, you wonder if outright rejection is a possible synonym.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

QUANTUM OF SOLACE: MOVIE REVIEW

Cast: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Dame Judi Dench
Director: Marc Forster
Runtime:
Rating: ***1/2
Genre: Action, Thriller

        Look, there’s no point to movies in the first place if all we seek down from that auditorium is to provide us with a product that fulfills most or all of a set of preconceived criteria. I am listening to reviews, am listening to opinions, and they claim they are disappointed with Quantum of Solace because there’re no gadgets (in other words deus ex machina), there’s no “Its Bond, James Bond” (though there’re some super one-liners), and that Bond gets his suit rumpled and that he bleeds. I’m finding that question being raised from quite a few corners – Is this Bond? It is a question that is borne out of a mindset that is disappointed because a film doesn’t adhere to some commonly accepted checklist. Believe me when I say this, and I mean here no offence to anyone, that this is simply a wrong way to enter the movies. Movies ought to be looked at for what they are and not to be judged for what you want them to be. Pure and simple.
        Now, then, is this James Bond?
        As I have asked for quite a long time now, what was James Bond? Was he even a character, or was he a set of attributes that moved along in an uneasy paradoxical relationship to each other and oblivious to the other’s presence. The Bond movies of yore probably weren’t aware of the formulaic path they treaded, and the suave cold blooded spy wasn’t supposed to be cold blooded, I guess. He was just a hero who would finish of the bad guys, and wouldn’t feel nothing because one never felt nothing when they killed bad people then. Killing bad guys was the good thing to do. Those films had wafer thin morality that was more simplistic than black and white. And that is why they ended up being mindless fun. And fun only for a short while, before you couldn’t watch a Bond film.
        Pierce Brosnan entered with Goldeneye, in a franchisee reinvigoration of sorts, and I remember Roger Ebert’s review when he said it was the first film that actually and with great pride acknowledged its unabashed slavishness to the Bond formula. He said it was the first Bond film that was self aware, and that acknowledged the sadness of its hero.
        With Casino Royale, and now Quantum of Solace, the Bond movies have finally completed what I believe was their mission with the franchisee reboot – to charter the territory that made Bond the cold blooded bastard who wouldn’t flinch before loading lead into someone point blank. These are films that are trying to break into the character and trying to decipher what makes this guy such a paradox. And in the process, they’re at once making him a real flesh and blood character and a larger than life superhero. It is a tough ask, and in this climate where Jason Bourne has all but stamped his authority as the premier spy of our times, it requires someone to take the tough decisions. That is why I believe it is important to juxtapose these two films, and that is for two very important reasons – one because of the significant departure in tone in the latter, and two, Quantum of Solace doesn’t have to so much live up to the first twenty Bond films as it has to Casino Royale.
        So, my answer is this. And with an overwhelming yes I say, this is James Bond. This is the Bond I have been wanting for since the day I saw From Russia with Love. And he doesn’t have to spell out his name to prove it. You might as well wipe the slate clean. And that is because for the first time in my acquaintance with James Bond, I’m getting to know a person rather than hitting a blank screen that is all exterior and zero on the interior.
        Quantum of Solace picks up straight where Casino Royale left us, and puts us dead smack in the middle of action. To be more precise, in the middle of a car chase, as Bond’s Aston Martin is being chased by an Alfa Romeo as they speed through the roads of Italy. The prized cargo in Bond’s vehicle, as you would have guess till now, is Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) and he reveals there’s an organization that has crept into the crevices of every major organization of the world. As they so often say in the movies, and here too, they have people everywhere. And if you ridicule the line as a cliché, you might be committing the same mistake that M (Dame Judi Dench) does. It is a secretive organization, mind you, and it nobody down at MI6 even has the slightest idea about its existence.
        So you might think here that finding as much as the tentacles of such a secretive organization with such greatly sinister motives would need some real spectacular effort. And herein lay the fundamental problem with Quantum of Solace. The hastily concocted plot, and the resultant script stink, as if they are remnants of one of those Roger Moore Bond films. It is supremely mechanical, and Bond and co. find it so ridiculously simple to unravel clues that you might wonder if the intelligence fraternity is a bunch of blind overpaid idiots for not having locating such blatant a threat to the world. All that the bad guy Dominic Greene (Amalric) could have done worse is to finance a new TV channel and indulge in propaganda. Speaking of which I feel obliged to lend a note of appreciation for Amalric who is superb. And it is all in his searching eyes.
        Back again with the script, one thing leads to another as if it is a line of bicycles in a stand waiting to be given the slightest push. Their motives ought to have been left for a sequel, or it should have been a long film like The Dark Knight where things unravel relentlessly and surprisingly. 100 minutes for such a plot is simply too less to be fleshed out to let audiences feel the heat. It is not long before Bond not only manages to locate the head of the organization, i.e. the bad guy, but also find out his secret motive. And when I found out what it was I hung my head in great despair.
        I believe there’s a deeper reason to this problem that plagues Quantum of Solace. And that is that it is not too concerned with the plot elements as it is with the character. It is desperate to portray, rather than measure, the depths of his rage and the kind of cold blooded morality he would eventually live by. That is how it ends up just like its character – cold, lean and mean. There’s one action sequence after another, and they are strung together so densely you might not even care after a while. Not that the action sequences are spectacular either. Rather, they’re quite predictable, and there’s a grit missing from it that very much was a part of its predecessor. The editing sometimes is confusing which might lead you to lose your bearings in the set pieces, and neither are they shot particularly well so as to allow you to map them out with a involving degree of clarity. This film isn’t organic, and it feels like a strange uneasy ride of a film that intends to be driven by its character but is unfortunately seated in a car with only automatic drive. The real world doesn’t dissolve fully into that broad framework of the Bond canon, and that is because it just isn’t given enough time. It is an efficient, involving film, but had it been fleshed out to its fullest, it might have been quite easily the best Bond adventure of all time.
        And I say this, and say this again, that Quantum of Solace is a good entertaining film. It is, if my memory serves me well, the first entry to the canon that acknowledges the moral ambiguity of the world it deals with. The CIA and the MI6 aren’t exactly a happy couple, and when it comes to a conflict of interest, there might be a crack here and there. Jeffrey Wright lends great wit and a great presence to Felix Leiter. M, portrayed ever so powerfully by Dame Judi Dench, does suspect that Bond might have defected, that he might very well be a rogue agent. The relationship between them is one of the great features of the film. There’s so much happening in it, and it is so dense, that it is almost criminal not to give it at least another 50 minutes. The way I see it, the new Bond isn’t about casually and often unintentionally hinting down at a whole lot of themes, but actually getting dirty in the mud. And then coming out of it even colder and deadlier than before. When the female lead Camille is trapped inside a burning house and her own personal horrors, look at what James Bond is about to do had a window of opportunity not presented itself. You will understand what the man is capable of.
        And that is where and that is how Quantum of Solace shines. Not as a whole but much like its name, in its quanta. And the secret to it is Daniel Craig, who might very well be the best Bond of them all. He is a dedicated actor, and it shows in the way he performs his own stunts. There’s a steely resolve to his blank stare that I am not sure I have seen anywhere else. The lips are sealed and the eyes do not offer much by the way of emotion. It is a great performance by an actor who understands the character, and as Roger Ebert says here, he is more analytical about Bond than the other Bonds. His portrayal draws inspiration from Ian Fleming’s books more than anywhere else. Roger Ebert uses a great word to describe his version of Bond, one that might describe Jason Bourne too, and that word would be coiled. I think these two films brought and quenched his rage and tamed the beast inside. And since it is now on a tight leash, I believe the next Bond adventure will see the best of the character. In the final moments Bond walks into the cold, into the dark, and I believe when we see him the next time it will be in an altogether different light. And then, he will be Bond. James Bond. As never before. So ruthless and professional you might have to say to yourself – be careful what you wish for.


Note: Do read Ebert’s fascinating essay. The link is below.
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081105/PEOPLE/811059962