That said, I am (as I noted in an earlier post) deeply ambivalent about the next James Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008).
But with my essay on Casino Royale now out of the way, I did want to offer my tentative thoughts about the next film.
So, why am I leery of the next Bond film--especially when I have literally, intensely, anticipated every single James Bond film since Licence to Kill (1989), having been obsessed with The Living Daylights (1987) when I first saw it, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus at the age of nine?
(for those keeping score at home--that anticipation includes Licence to Kill, Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002) and Casino Royale).
I do not get leery of forthcoming Bond films easily (I do not get leery of Bond films, period).
My reservations about Quantum of Solace:
- The title--if you are going to steal another Ian Fleming title, at least make some attempt at interogating the origins of said title. And "Solace" . . . there's a fine line between a darker, even more emotional, Bond and a Bond who just feels sorry for himself. I have no interest in the latter. The emotional pay-off at the end of Royale was well earned, but I do not want to see a whole Bond film wallowing in self-pity. This may not be the plan, but the lame title does not give me "a measure of comfort."
- Producer Michael Wilson (longtime co-producer of the franchise) is on record as saying there will be twice as much action in the next film. This bothers me for some reason. I think its almost the apologetic tone of it--the idea that, don't worry, there will be plenty of action (i.e., not all that plot stuff we saw in Casino Royale).
- Director Marc Forster--plainly put, I think the guy's a hack. I think Monster's Ball (2002), Finding Neverland (2004), and Stranger than Fiction (2006) are not just overrated--there are out-right bad. Moreover, his body of work annoys me because every film of his strikes me as the work of a would-be auteur who is trying to guess which type of film will win him an Oscar. Some might see his work as electic--I see it as indecisive, slightly desperate. I always felt Forster was picking projects based on what he guessed was the trendy project. Post-Craig, post-Casino Royale, James Bond is trendy again, and I worry that that's why Forster agreed to do Quantum of Solace.
- Besides, even if you like Forster's work--great directors do not automatically make great Bond directors. Case in point--Michael Apted and The World is Not Enough. That film, too, tried to be darker and more serious, but the result was just a narrative and thematic mess (I would argue that the film was clearly the worst of the Brosnan Bond films, even if it was trying so hard).
- On the other hand, Martin Campbell is a completely uneventful action director--and yet he is responsible for two outstanding--two very different--Bond films--the two best Bond films in the last twenty years (Goldeneye and Royale--one, a textbook-perfect epitomy of the classic formula, and, another, that formula's thrilling reinvention).
- Lastly, I confess, I know that Quantum just cannot live up to the standard set by Casino Royale. The only thing more enjoyable than the anticipation of Casino was that the film somehow surpassed even those expectations. It might be my all-time favorite Bond film, and I'm smart enough to know that the sequel is doomed to fail. Am I just trying to set the bar low?
And, of course, I will follow Daniel Craig and his version of Bond to the ends of the Earth.
But I just cannot quite give myself to Solace [. . .] just yet.