A Quantum Quagmire?

My brother took a lot of issue with my giving Quantum of Solace a B+.  He also got kind of snippy with Daniel Craig getting an A+ (okay, perhaps that might have been related to his good looks, but I stand mostly by it).

Christoper Orr writes movie reviews for The New Republic.  I have agreed with him in almost every instance.  He’s pretty so-so on Bond’s latest installment, but heartily supports Craig:

Craig is the first inheritor who has worn the role rather than let it wear him.

To a greater degree even than in Casino Royale, Craig’s Bond is shorn of the frilly vanities and amusements that long dominated the character. His job is not to charm people, it is to kill people, and he does this not because he takes pleasure in it but because he knows he’s better at it than anyone else. Creator Ian Fleming once described Bond in Reader’s Digest as “an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department,” and Craig’s portrayal in Quantum is just that, minus the government control. This is probably the cruelest Bond of the series, and certainly the most murderous, shedding more blood during an average twenty-minute stretch than Roger Moore seemed to over the course of seven films. When, at one point, M chides him, “Bond, if you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated,” she is not speaking metaphorically.

Under other circumstances, I wouldn’t applaud the surfeit of brutality–which still doesn’t approach what you can find elsewhere at the multiplex most nights–but, as in Casino Royale, it is a useful corrective to the flabby excesses of the franchise, which so often portrayed 007 as ass-chaser first and assassin second. Moreover, Craig is so very good as the hitman with a heart of lead that it’s hard to begrudge him his lethal mandate. His blue eyes are colder than even Fleming could’ve imagined, and his spare but fearsome frame seems, unlike most Hollywood physiques, built more for performance than for show. (Most of the women I know will be disappointed–and most of their husbands relieved–to hear that Craig takes his shirt off a good deal less than he did in Casino Royale.)

If I recall correctly, Jordan’s big problem with Bond this time around was precisely this (no, not the less-frequent semi-nude scenes).  Bond has a soul, and this Bond did not.  Spoiler Alert !! At the end of the movie there are two key figures that Bond specifically chooses NOT to kill and then, feeling avenged, he walks off into the night.  You are sure that the next time we see him he won’t be such a cold-blooded killer.  That perhaps he will let one or two of M’s leads live to tell their tale.

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