I can understand why Bond fans have had mixed feelings about QOS, Daniel Craig notwithstanding. For the reinvention of Bond in today’s competitive scenario has taken away many of the attributes and quirks that defined 007 – at least the cinematic 007. This is not to say one wishes the present Bond were a throwback to the androgynous Roger Moore, but, somehow, a lot of characteristics that we came to see – rightly or wrongly – as defining Bond are not there in Craig’s 007. On the other hand, I have to hand it to the makers; it is not easy taking a well-known but fading brand, and in the face of increased competition in the last few years, being able to re-invent the formula successfully. At least in the commercial sense.
Darker times, I suppose, demand darker heroes. And so, the once suave hero, among whose peccadilloes one could list an overactive love-muscle and some endearing superciliousness, is now transformed into a brooding and emotionally scarred killing automaton (yes, that’s a cliché!) for whom the end completely justifies the means……and it’s not even one of those ‘larger-good’ ends…..it’s personal. And you get the distinct feeling that had MI6’s and 007’s interests not coincided – however imperfectly – 007 would pretty much have turned rogue to get what he wanted. The morally ambiguous hero has been notably successful of late, as Jason Bourne, Tony Stark and most spectacularly, Bruce Wayne, would testify. And it was a no-brainer that 007 would, perforce, have to follow suit.
And the reincarnated Bond could not have found someone better than Daniel Craig to carry it off. The man is outstanding as the New (Improved?) Bond, and after watching him play 007 in QOS, one realises there is actually no doubt as to whether this avatar of Bond is the ‘correct’ one or not. Is Daniel Craig’s character more relevant, more in-sync with our times? Undoubtedly so. Is he more believable in this high-octane action set-piece than his predecessors, displaying flair and remarkable athleticism? Again, emphatically yes.
Let’s look at the film now. Marc Forster was perhaps handicapped by the lack of a strong script. Because the story is infantile. And that is being charitable. The action, though, is breath-taking, comparable to any other film of the same genre. Nevertheless, one did get the feeling that in his zest to take the fight right to John McClane, Iron Man and Bourne, Forster made the cardinal error of taking his eyes off the plot. And the result is QOS, really nothing more than a spectacular collection of this year’s The World’s Most Extreme Sporting Videos, interspersed with Cultural Primer 101, (à la National Geographic, but not as good), some standard Environmental Platitudes and some done-to-death Third-World Corruption and Human Suffering.
During the course of the film, you realise that Bond and Bourne now have far more in common than Fleming, Ludlum, Forster or Greengrass intended – and this is even if I ignore the roof-top chase. And that’s when you understand the gripe Bond loyalists have.
If you don’t have predetermined notions of what 007 should be like and if you feel a credible plot has no place in cinema, you will enjoy the film – if nothing else, at least for the mindless yet dazzling action (land, sea and air…..); for some sardonic lines, again not from Bond (though he has one, as far as I remember), but from M; and for the smouldering Daniel Craig and the hot and delectable Olga Kurylenko.
You may also want to check out Shefaly’s review.