When Catrin is hired to bring ‘a woman’s touch’ to morale-boosting propaganda films in the UK during WWII, she finds more than just a job – she finds courage and camaraderie as they shoot a film even as bombs drop on London.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a movie filled with running, jumping, fighting [with fists, words, knives, snakes and darts – among other things]. Like Thief of Baghdad on acid, it is filled with visual wonders and feats of derring-do. It is, in fact, a swashbuckler that, CG aside, owes far more to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Errol Flynn than the videogame on which it is allegedly based. Spoiler: if you’re expecting War and Peace, stay home!
I will say it once and I will say it again, Hollywood STOP–PLEASE STOP remaking the classic films we love and enjoy. You turned a cheesy cult classic from the year I was born and made it into a two hour snooze fest that no one would enjoy unless you have seen the original. The original 1981 classic is remembered for three distinctive things. It featured the stop-motion monsters of legendary puppeteer Ray Harryhausen. Second, it featured a ham performance of Sir Laurence Olivier. Finally, we get to see a pre-L.A. Law Harry Hamlin as Perseus. I can enjoy the original with just the magic and the myth with a hearty chuckle. Twenty-nine years later, this remake can only make me cringe.
If you’ve seen Casino Royale, then you’ve gotten all the character development you need to enjoy Quantum of Solace, the latest adventure of MI6 operative James Bond [Daniel Craig] – but it’s not all the characterization you’ll get before the film ends. This film, which begins twenty minutes after the end of Casino Royale is a sleek action flick that – while it may be influenced by what Paul Greengrass did with the last two Jason Bourne films – manages to use some of the handheld techniques from the Bourne trilogy without ever moving completely away from the equally kinetic but different style of the previous film.
Here, Bond is out to avenge the death of the only woman he ever loved. The problem, he learns, is that her killer is part of a global network dedicated to take over the planet by perverting the fight against global warming to their own ends. The film’s most visible antagonist is Dominic Greene [Mathieu Amalric], the front for an organization of alleged ecological crusaders. Complicating things is a woman who is after the man who killed her family – and is now working with Green.
Quantum, it turns out, is the name of this shadowy organization and their claim that they are everywhere is supported by an attempt on M’s [Judy Dench] life by her own bodyguard. Circumstances dictate that she cut Bond loose to do what he does best – while looking like she’s trying to get him to stand down. It gets even more complex from there though Bond’s ability to suss out information from the slimmest resources gets him through it in fine style
Marc Forster’s direction, as mentioned above is somewhat influenced by the Bourne films, but he skilfully weaves unexpected character moments throughout in a way that’s so invisible that many reviewers have found the film devoid of characterization. Such is not the case – though much of Quantum’s character moments come through choices Bond makes in the midst of action.
The action sequences are breathtaking throughout, but the bookends of the opening chase/fight sequence and the wall of destruction just before the film’s conclusion are among the best I’ve ever seen. The cast is excellent as well – especially Olga Kurylenko as Camille – the woman who, like Bond, has vengeance on her mind [her situation at the end may have something to do with her not sleeping with Bond, but that’s a subject for Bond fanatics to debate.
Amalric makes a good villain for two reasons: acting skill [and knowing when not to chew the scenery], and the fact that his eyes seem just a tad bit too large for his face [just enough to be creepy; not enough to be funny]. In terms of sheer presence, none of the other Quantum employees/conspirators matches him.
Overall, then, while Quantum of Solace won’t be making any top ten best films lists for 2008, it is in no way a bad film. Rather, it is one of the half-dozen best Bond films – and that’s not too shabby.