Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quantum Of Solace

Down into town yesterday to see the press showing (the first in the world - hey) of the new Bond, courtesy of Mr Kim Newman. Security as usual for these kind of things just below the level needed to get into the MI6 building: gone are the days when you wandered into some basement screening room in Soho, sans credentials, and munched on free crisps and drank free white wine the distributor had laid on in the hope that some kind of print publicity might be generated from the crowd of slightly shabby black-clad cineastes. It's an industrial process now, and the precautions are in place to keep out the pirates. Or so we're told.

The film kicks off in the middle of a car chase and doesn't much slow down or pause for breath for the next hour and three-quarters. Bond is still mourning Vespa, the girl he loved and who betrayed him in Casino Royale, but he's hardened and no longer the callow ingenue. Just as well, as he has a lot of ground to cover, and much action to survive: as far as I could tell, he sat down about twice and never slept (even on a trans-Atlantic red-eye he spent the entire flight standing at the bar in First Class, sipping martini cocktails). The action ranges across Europe, to Haiti and Bolivia, replete with car chases, boat chases, plane chases, and a lot of free running across rooftops, the stunts all good, and never marred by obvious CGI. As well as the traditional transcontinental locations and supersmart Wallpaper* hotels, there's the usual high tech trickery, this time involving turning mobile phones into tracking devices, and a briefing using a smart desktop, and Bond gets to sleep with a girl with the requisite kooky name (that's revealed only at the very end, one of the many nice touches in this smart production) and hook up with a tough and smart girl (Olga Kurylenko) whose personal mission parallels his; in one of the few quiet, human moments in the movie, he instructs her on how to make sure she doesn't mess up the kill she has to make. The plot is, of course, preposterous, but the story keeps everything moving so quickly it doesn't much matter. Speed, not thought, is the essence of these things.

French star Mathieu Amalric very good as the popeyed, snaggletoothed yet corrosively charming villain, part of a secret international organisation corrupting third-world countries for profit. Judi Dench is as usual very fine as M, and Daniel Craig, thoroughly inhabiting the part, has refined his blue-eyed Mr Death stare so it can now burn through a couple of inches of steel. His Bond is tougher than ever, and with little time to waste on quips or hanging about in night clubs or casinos, and has to be restrained from killing just about anyone who gets in his way. In short, this is a smart, tough Bond working in an Age of Terror where no motives are pure. Only a few people get out alive; no one gets out unscarred.


Blogger Ian Sales said...

I'm somewhat boggled by the concept of a secret international organisation corrupting third-world countries for profit when the World Banks does a perfectly good job of that already...

October 19, 2008 10:39 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

This is a super-secret world bank - but yes, their methods are somewhat similar.

October 19, 2008 3:56 pm  

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