Archive for Marc Foster

Quantum Menace

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 25, 2018 by dcairns

I once watched the opening of QUANTUM OF SOLACE on a plane. I was curious to see what kind of film could be made by people who thought that title was good. Now that Leith’s charity shops are selling DVDs for, at times, 25p, I thought it worth picking up a copy to see if it was as bad as I remembered.

If memory serves, this one went into production during the writers’ strike, and it needed a rewrite. So despite the complicated writer credits (three names, one “and” and an ampersand) it’s as close to a film without a writer as you could hope to see, or not to see. The director and star were trying to cobble it all together as they went along. So we should cut them some slack. Will we? Nah.There are two schools of thought about incoherent action sequences — one says that they’re fine as long as they’re stylish and create a lot of visual dash and confusion to keep our eyes darting about, and they simulate the chaos of being in a dangerous, fast-moving situation. Occasionally this is true. The other school of thought is that if something genuinely exciting is happening, it would be nice to be able to see it.

We open on a car chase. There’s some nice photography here — details of bits of car pulsing in and out of the light as they pass through tunnels at speed. We get glimpses of our man Daniel Craig, so we know he’s in one car. There are quite a few cars, so the likelihood is the bad guys are chasing him, but there’s no way to be sure of this. Not to worry, all will become clear.

Well, actually, no. Even when we get some wide shots where we can see several cars and the road at once, it’s not easy to tell who is where. Bond’s car gets impaled on a big spike that’s part of a truck, and it punches through the door, inches from him. He puts his car into a spin, tearing the door off, and freeing himself from the decelerating truck. I figured that out after watching it twice. The poor cinema audience wouldn’t have a chance, and all that expensive stunt work counted for nothing.

SMASH! OK, James Bond’s car definitely got flattened by a truck just then, definitely. Well, that was a short movie. Oh no, apparently that was one of the other cars that got hit.

Here’s an Italian cop helpfully broadcasting a recap:Ah ha! Bond is driving a grey Aston Martin and being chased by a black Alfa Romeo. That’s bound to help. Nope. Bond’s car looks black to me. I might be able to tell one vehicle from another if they were ever on screen for more that eight frames, though.

Still, if Bond’s now only got one pursuer, things should be clearer, and they are, despite an Italian cop car joining the chase. The cops soon get wiped out, rolling down a hill and across Bond’s path, the mangled vehicle and its blameless corpse occupants serving as a fleeting bit of additional jeopardy for our hero. Well, these films are supposed to be ruthless, I suppose.

Still, the editing is jarring — I can see they’re using it to keep the pace up, because every time we get a real wide shot it does looks flat, slow and boring. I think actually staying in tighter POV shots moving with the cars would be much better, imparting a real rollercoaster sense of rollick and swoosh.The sequence ends when Bond picks up a machine gun he had all along and shoots the other driver. And then doesn’t make a quip because the writers are on strike.

Yeah, pretty bad: there’s no INVENTION to it, it’s all in the hands of the editors, who hash it up, and the sound designers, who do create a very dynamic, starwarsian mix, but can’t help create clarity where none exists.

I’m also picking up discs of the BOURNE series, piece by piece… more later…