November 16th, 2008

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) *** ½

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is back in the thrilling, high octane 22nd installment of Ian Fleming’s 007.  This time he tears up tons of shit looking for the bastards who killed his best gal and uncovers a sinister corporation’s global scheme to control the world’s most precious natural resources.  Along the way he picks up an extremely hot chick named Camille (fittingly enough played by Olga Kurylenko, an extremely hot chick) that has a vendetta of her own. 


There’s been a lot of loose talk going around that Quantum of Solace is basically a rip-off of the Jason Bourne movies.  This is complete horseshit.  The only thing the films have in common is the ADD editing.  Quantum of Solace is a classic Bond flick and while it’s not quite perfect, it gets the job done in spectacular fashion. 


Quantum of Solace features enough nods to the previous Bond films that it will make your head spin.  There’s the ill-fated chick that gets her entire body dipped in a valuable substance that’s directly lifted from Goldfinger.  There’s the worldwide organization bent on global conquest that’s straight out of Thunderball.  There’s the skydiving action sequence that’s similar to the one in Moonraker.  There’s the Bond girl who’s out to avenge her family’s death that’s reminiscent of For Your Eyes Only.  The scene involving a cargo plane will remind you of the one from The Living Daylights.  Bond defying orders and going rogue is blatantly ripped off from Licence to Kill.  The part when… look, all I’m saying that this flick is a straight up Bond movie through and through and is NOT a Bourne rehash.


People may miss Q and Miss Moneypenny, but frankly, I did not.  The film has it’s share of gadgets (most of them are in the realm of believability as they all more or less stem from Bond’s cell phone) and sexy pencil pushers (Gemma Arterton as Miss Fields is great in her brief role) to keep me entertained, and besides I don’t think anyone blinked when Q failed to report for Live and Let Die.  The movie moves at a lightning pace and their absence isn’t felt in the slightest.  There isn’t an ounce of fat on Quantum of Solace, which is a lot more that can be said for its predecessor, Casino Royale; one of the more bloated entries in the Bond franchise.  (At 105 minutes, Quantum is the shortest Bond adventure ever.) 


As Bond, Craig continues to impress.  He shows Bond’s trademarked suaveness and sophistication when he can, although he’s really much too busy at getting the job done to worry about appearances.  When it comes to action, the man is like a fucking great white shark.  He’s constantly on the move, fucking up anyone who gets in his way until he gets his man.  I also liked how he didn’t dwell on his sorrows the way he did in Casino Royale, but rather used that pent up anger and channeled it directly into his work. 


And was my man working overtime in this flick.  There was every kind of action you could think of in this flick.  There were fistfights, knife fights, shootouts, car chases, boat chases, plane chases, and towering infernos.  The only thing that annoyed me was the frantic editing.  If the editors left a couple extra beats in there and director Marc Forster held a shot a little longer than two seconds, it would’ve been a bit better.  I will say this for the hyper editing:  it made the danger a little more realistic and gave the action a more unrehearsed feel.


Enough of my ramblings though, here’s the real review for Bond fans. 


The pre-title action sequence:  Awesome car chase with a brilliant freeze frame moment.  It loses a half a star for the simple fact that it looked like it was edited with a wood chipper.  *** ½.


The opening title sequence:  Top notch.  It continues the retro feel that was started with Casino Royale.  It also features excellent use of naked women writhing around in sand.  ****.  


Theme song:  Another Way to Die (performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys) is probably the best Bond tune in a long old time.  I liked the way White incorporated the rock guitar with the orchestral stuff.  It’s the first duet in Bond history and it worked well enough for me.  *** ½.


Bond himself:  I like all the Bonds equally.  Each Bond movie is tailor made around the actor playing Bond.  Roger Moore was a womanizer who would rather pork a chick than save the world.  Daniel Craig is more in the Timothy Dalton vein of 007.  He’s a guy who uses his fists and wits to get the job done.  Craig handles the humor a bit better than Dalton did and while his quips are kept to a minimum (“He was a dead end!”); when he delivers them, it brings down the house.  ****.


Gadgets:  Sparse, but believable as Bond uses his cell phone to get GPS movements on the scumbags who call him.  ***.


Bond Girls:  Olga is hot.  Really hot.  She’s the best Bond girl since Famke Janssen crushed Pierce Brosnan with her thighs in Goldeneye, even though she doesn’t slip between the sheets with 007.  At least Gemma Arterton, that ginger-headed waif falls for Bond’s bedroom antics.  ****.


Action:  A veritable smorgasbord of action and stunts.  Again, loses points for having Sybil as the editor.  *** ½.


M Briefings:  The Craig-era briefings are different than most in the series as they mostly take place in the field.  M (Judi Dench, again excellent in her sixth portrayal of the role) has more screen time than ever and her relationship with Bond is one of the best things about the film.  In Quantum of Solace, we see her finally learning to trust Bond’s instincts, even when trusting his instincts is the rough equivalent of letting a bulldog off the chain.  ****


Villains:  As Dominic Greene, Mathieu Amalric is bland but is a believable threat.  He also knows how to use an axe when cornered.  ***.   


Villain’s Plot:  Again, more believable.  Greene is after water (which makes this the Chinatown of Bond movies), making his plans less comic booky and more realistic.  *** ½.


Villain’s Lair:  A hotel in the middle of the desert that looked like a bunch of Legos.  Didn’t matter though because Bond burned that bitch to the ground real good.  ***.  


Martinis:  A record SIX of them.  ****.


That makes for a grand total of *** ½.  I’m going to go on record and say that Quantum of Solace is the 13th best Bond film of all time.  Better than Thunderball, but not quite up to the standards of Live and Let Die.


A zombie sneaks into an underground strip club and bites Kat (porn legend Jenna Jameson), the star attraction, who naturally becomes a zombie minutes later.  The catch is that once she’s zombified, her stripping prowess improves exponentially and her tips go way up.  The downside to that is that when she gives guys a lapdance, she usually ends up devouring them.  Pretty soon, all the strippers in the joint want to be zombies and beg Kat to gnaw on their flesh.  In the end, a bunch of zombie-killing soldiers show up to paint the club red with their brains. 


Zombie Strippers delivers exactly what the title promises.  There are Zombies.  There are Strippers.  There are Strippers who become Zombie Strippers.  Unfortunately, the film doesn’t deliver much of anything else.


The problem is that things go on for far too long and the movie doesn’t know when to quit.  The scenes of the zombie hunting soldiers that bookend the film are really lame and all of the soldiers will grate on your nerves fairly quickly.  Also, the action scenes are poorly shot and choreographed, which doesn’t exactly help matters either.


Robert Englund has a lot of fun chewing the scenery as the sleazy club owner with OCD.  (He has to spray the strippers down with Lysol before he’ll touch them.)  Jameson is OK in the lead, although she’s kinda looking rough these days if you ask me.  (It could’ve just been the zombie make-up though.)  At least she gets the best scene in the movie when she puts a whole bunch of billiard balls in her pussy and shoots them out like a cannon. 


The gore for this sort of thing is more than adequate as there is an assortment of dismemberings to keep you watching.  Arms, tongues, brains, and guts all get ripped out and lots and lots of zombie strippers get shot in the head.  The zombie make-up was also above average as even the stripper’s silicone heavy tits looked convincingly zombified.


Look here people; you watch a movie called Zombie Strippers, you deserve what you get.  Just don’t expect much more than that though.


Englund gets the best line when he tells one of the girls, “Get back, you walking herpe!”