Sunday, 7 December 2008

Quantum of Solace

I've never been to see a James Bond film in the cinema before, but grew up with them flickering in and out of my awareness on television. I think the first one I saw might have been You Only Live Twice, or perhaps Live and Let Die. I haven't seen Casino Royale either, so this was my introduction to Daniel Craig's Bond.

I was left with the impression that the Bond franchise is suffering an identity crisis, though there were signs that it is working on resolving it. I watched most of the Pierce Brosnan films on television, and while there is the superficial connection of M still being played by Judi Dench, otherwise this doesn't seem to be the universe that Brosnan's Bond inhabited. Where Brosnan's Bond fought larger-than-life megalomaniacs, Craig fights less tangible threats. The high technology now belongs to MI6 with their giant touch-sensitive display screens; the enemy in the field deals in the material world, water, oil, guns, bullets, blood and bone, and these need to be Bond's weapons too.

The audience is played with, of course. Gemma Arterton's Fields appears to be the unexpected introduction of a more traditional Bond girl, but she is a play-acting minor foreign office staffer, seduced by Bond almost before they meet, and she provides another layer for Bond's guilt. I don't know the books at all, but Olga Kurylenko's Camille, with her scarred back, echoed what I think of as a Fleming trope, the beautiful woman with the physical imperfection caused by a man when she was very young, though I don't know whether it occurs outside Dr No.