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Daniel Craig

Quantum of Compromise

by Dave on November 16, 2008

in Movies

Regardless of how many adult die hard James Bond fans there are in existence – and there are many – we don’t go to the movies as much as our younger pop culture consumers. Everyone’s favorite British Secret agent was getting a little long in the tooth and falling further and further off the radar of today’s popcorn munching demographic. I thought Brosnan did an excellent job as James Bond, but when he told the Broccoli’s he wasn’t coming back for another round after Die Another Day – I expect Barb saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that more drastic measures were called for if the franchise were to continue into a fifth decade.

QOS
Silhouette of Violent Impending Death

Enter Mr. Daniel Craig. Initially, although I’ve been a fan since I first noticed him in Road to Perdition, I didn’t like him for the next James Bond. This was only because one of my personal favorites, Eric Bana, was also being considered for the role. To say that things have worked out for the best would be a severe understatement. Admittedly my judgment was clouded on the matter and they could not have selected a better man for the re-imagining and reboot of one of the most successful, prolific and sacred movie franchises in human history.

My point and do I have one? After first seeing the 22nd Bond film, Quantum of Solace almost a week ago, I have read a slew of State-side reviews and they all not-so-cleverly compare the flick to a modern action franchise that has become the standard by which all others are measured – and rightfully so. “The name is Bourne. Jason Bourne.” I can accept this to a point, but many people that find the pint-sized Matt Damon completely believable as the rouge agent are absorbing this comparison hook, line and sinker.

daniel-craigIt’s important to remember a few things before daring to mouth the word “ripoff“. The Bond films are a business, and no matter how strong their history or fan base – if they cease to make money they will cease to be made. That would be a far bigger tragedy than having to tweak the formula to attract the modern-day wallets. It is possible to please both sides of the theater aisle, and this weekend’s 70 million dollar U.S. opening is a testament to that fact. It can be done, and it has been done. Well… done.

The other talking point reviewers are parroting this weekend, however, is that the new movie is a step back for the new Bond. Again, I have to bring you folks back down to reality (my reality, anyway). Royale was a very tough act to follow but Solace was also required to be a very different movie. It’s the first Bond film to ever continue the plot of the previous one, and that plot is easily summed up in one word: revenge. The Bond we already understand to be the most ruthless, thuggish and brutal since Connery rocked the tux wants the asses of those responsible for the death of Vesper.

The very first scene of the movie is a heart-stopping, hairpin car chase through the mountains of Italy, during which many of Quantum’s (S.P.E.C.T.R.E. for the new millennium,) goons are dispatched into the next life – and the action rarely slows down for the duration. The subtle set up, character development and tie-ins to Fleming’s world were already established in Casino Royale, creating the bridge from Brosnan to Craig – and now it’s clobberin’ time.

Although I definitely bemoan the absence of John Cleese’s Q, Judi Dench and Jeffery Wright are on hand and effective as M and Felix. There is one other “character” from the Bonds of yester-year that is noticeably absent. The uber-villain. I don’t need to see white cats, boomerang hats and stainless steel dentistry in every film, but we’ve got to do a bit better with the main nemesis’ in these otherwise wonderful reboots. So far we’ve had a twitchy Frenchman with a penchant for knots and a slightly grumpy, bug-eyed environmentalist, also French. I’d like the first scene of the next script to read something like this:

max-zorin-bond-villain

INT. ORBITING SPACE STATION – TIME OF DAY IRREVLEVANT BECAUSE IT’S FRIGGING SPACE

Cigarette smoke and Russian dialect fills the control room. From the vantage point of a CAGED PRISONER, we see TWISTED FUCK BENT ON WORLD DOMINATION enter through an automatic door with a visible limp, metallic hand and boa constrictor around his neck.

I don’t need cufflink darts, tuxedos or Lotus Esprits. I do need a British protagonist who is also a semi-sadistic womanizing thug and a villain with some sort of mental illness and the potential to give young children nightmares. I hope we can compromise on those points, Barbara Broccoli – but otherwise, fantastic job thus far. I am drinking a second huge martini of relief.

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One of the reasons everybody’s favorite Quizzlet has died off these last couple months is that the wonderful site, Friday’s Feast, I used to get the questions from seems to have died off as well. A year or two ago, when I was writing once or twice a day and my readership was strong I could have asked y’all to provide me with 5 questions. But until I get my groove back, somewhat like Stella, I shall have to pen my own – I have done it before, and Freud would love this. Please feel free to answer any of these questions yourselves in the comments.

Appetizer: Popular opinion states that Saturday Night Live isn’t funny. Your thoughts?
Thanks, Quizzlet. This has been on my mind a lot lately. If by “popular opinion” you mean people that haven’t watched the show since 1998 – or never really did – then yes, you’d be led to believe not only is the show bad it should have been cancelled when Will Ferrell left. Where do I begin? The current cast has certain members that are so strong they have already started appearing in movies. A lot of movies. Usually this doesn’t happen until after they have left the show. Like them or not, Fey (practically a cast member again this year due to the Palin impressions) and Poheler (leaving after this season) have both made the rounds and even collaborated on Baby Mama. Andy Samberg had his own vehicle, Hot Rod, last summer. Bill Hader has been popping up in big movies everywhere since his first season (Tropic Thunder, SuperBad) and I’m surprised that the singularly brilliant Kristen Wiig even has time to do the show (Knocked Up, Semi-Pro, Ghost Town). I should probably make this a separate post I have so much to say, but I’ll leave you with this. Their ratings this season, in no small part to the election, were the highest since the Farley-Sandler-Hartman era and the show has a lot of life left in it yet.

“Sorry… I took a Chinese vitamin this morning.”

Soup: What do you think about the recent clues that suggest Ford, Lucas and Spielberg are currently gearing up for Indy 5?
Internationally, it was the top grossing film of 2008. And that’s with a lot of bad reviews and negative press behind it. They’d be stupid, or overly respectful of the franchise which we already know they are not, not to. If they produce a good script in the next couple of years I think Indy 5 can certainly pulled off. Just please no CGI monkeys this time. The gophers can stay, and so can Shia since we all know the series will probably be handed off to him in some fashion. That may actually be the entire purpose of #5. And let’s bring back those damn Nazis. There could be a whole city of them hoarding relics while hiding out in South America somewhere. A network of caves underneath a German restaurant in Rio, perhaps. Indiana Jones and the City of Thongs, anyone?

Salad: How’s the whole “living in the woods” thing working out for you?
Simply put – I love it up here. Fresh air, silence, a dog, a boat, deers in my yard… it’s a trip. After Janet moved up in May we started actually leaving the house and hitting the local bars on Thursday nights. I met a lot of people very quickly and things changed for the better. I have no idea why I waited almost a year to start socializing, but that’s neither here nor there. Now that Janet has returned to Boston I have a nice group of friends, can hit the local bar and know I’ll see people I know and I even get invited to parties. I like to tell myself it’s not just because I’m frequently asked to do a Beantown accent and recite scenes from “The Departed”. And I’ll continue to tell myself that.

Main Course: Will you ever return to Boston full time?
Things are getting crazy at work and the company is being valued highly by investors that have sniffed around. I have been asked recently by colleagues if I would move back. If it becomes apparent that I will miss out on a potential life-changing payday if I do not, and I negotiate a way with my family to keep from having to sell the house up here as a result, then I will think about it. With my father now in a home up here, however, any move back would be temporary.

Dessert: How do you feel about Daniel Craig as 007?
Growing up my favorite Bond was Roger Moore. And although I still like him in the role today, that was because I was a little kid (who probably shouldn’t have even been taken to see For Your Eyes Only, View to a Kill, etc.) and Moore was the current article. As I got older, my #1 slot eventually went to Connery with Moore as #2. Do I like Craig? On the strength of Casino Royale alone, my top 3 now goes: Connery, Craig, Moore. So yes – I likes him. He’s a sadistic, sexist thug – just like Connery played it – and although the reinvention contains elements I don’t like the elimination of the PC Brosnan-era Bond is a wonderful thing. I will be in line to see Quantum of Solace next Friday night (or maybe even afternoon) when it opens in Ottawa.

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