Quantum of Solace


I finally saw Daniel Craig's second Bond outing over Thanksgiving, and I was going to write a post about how I didn't quite understand why people were so cool to it - but then I went back and found this piece by Moriarty of Aintitcoolnews, which more or less sums up my own feelings on the matter. Especially the line about how Mathieu Almaric was essentially playing Roman Polanski, and this part:

... I don't miss the fetishistic museum piece touches of the series at all. I don't miss Q branch. I don't miss the Moneypenny banter. I don't miss the breezy "let's have a chat" style M briefings. Honestly... there are 20-something Bond films in that style, and like most Bond films, I've seen every film more than once. Some of them, I've seen many times. That adds up. I think it's safe to say if you count individual viewings, I've seen something like 180 James Bond films in my lifetime. All with that same rhythm and style and the same cast sadly growing older while James Bond mysteriously hovers around the same age in one of the weirdest continuity choices in franchise history. Like I said, I don't miss the formula of it all. And frankly, if the Daniel Craig era never quite gets back to that, I'm perfectly happy. I wouldn't mind at all. They made those movies. Lots and lots and lots of those movies. When I look over at the shelf of my office where every single one of those 20-something other Bond films are, the last DVD release that was the tricked-out-but-still-not-HD transfer, it's this huge stack, all the same, all rigidly adhering to that formula.

"And I enjoyed those films," Moriarty adds. So did I: I spent many a teenage Saturday afternoon sprawled in front of the Bond marathon that seemed to be running permanently on TBS in those days, watching Moonraker or Diamonds Are Forever or Live and Let Die. But if I want to see that Bond - the Bond, in Anthony Lane's turn of phrase, who inspired middle-aged men to wonder "how it was that their wristwatches merely told the time rather than spewing out metal ticker tape or magnetically unzipping the back of a woman's dress" - I can turn to any one of twenty-odd movies. The Daniel Craig era is trying to do something else with the character, and while I think that something else pretty clearly has its limits - Quantum of Solace was essentially parasitic on the final act of Casino Royale, and you can't have Bond lose a woman he loves every third movie or so just to keep him in a state of inner turmoil - for now it's a pretty damn enjoyable ride.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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