Sunday, 6 December 2015

007 - Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace opens with a shot that suggests a heat-seeking missile tracking in on its mark. We collide with Bond mid-mission, 007 attempting to spirit away a high-value target while the world around him breaks and explodes. Marc Forster's film is cut to the bone, a terse image assault that constantly and continuously stresses hostility. Matt Cheese and Rick Pearson's editing is incredibly confrontational, shots are ordered in either brief, functional reports or elegiac drifts.

Connery era editor (and On Her Majesty's Secret Service director) Peter R Hunt provided a template for communicating Bond's dilemma. Data streamed in from every conceivable direction, sometimes at odds with the preceding image. Quantum marks a supercharged return to that blueprint, emboldened by Christopher Rouse and Rick Pearson's hyperactive work on the Bourne films. This obsessive drive at functionality works perfectly for Quantum, Forster's film arranged to reflect the headspace of Daniel Craig's assailed, venomous hero.

Following Vesper's suicide Bond has, basically, stopped being human. He doesn't eat, he certainly doesn't sleep. 007's inflated musculature is gone too, replaced by the kind of snapping sinew you'd expect of some prowling, predatory lizard. Even his face is different, held in a pained, lopsided scowl that suggests Clint Eastwood staring at the sun. Casino Royale gave us a striver, fine-tuned to evoke understanding and sympathy. Quantum has no such aspiration, this is James Bond as pure machinery.

Quantum of Solace is Bond stripped of all the pretension and lies. An adventure completely outside of the structural formula that keeps much of the series feeling used up on arrival. It doesn't even pass the two-hour mark. Thanks to an aggressive release schedule and the 2007-08 Writers' Strike, Quantum wasn't worked and reworked to fit Eon's template. It's a mutant, a lone voice in a long, self-satisfied string of films that, for once, doesn't care about gadgets or holiday destinations. In their place we have a piece about a phantom that cannot find peace, the revenge mission that Diamonds Are Forever denied, Point Blank in a tuxedo. What higher praise is there?

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