Category Archives: paul haggis

Quantum of Solace

This is the second of the rebooted James Bond series starring Daniel Craig as the classic Ian Fleming character. I have always had trouble with the concept of having to tell the origin of the hero. Think of the old movie serials, no origins, we were just dropped into a good exciting story, given a one or two line synopsis of our hero, and rolling with it. In many ways, it’s what we have been doing with James Bond for decades.

Here in Quantum of Solace, which takes place just minutes after the closing of Casino Royale (2006), we are still dealing with a assumedly green Bond, whose first mission ended in death and defeat. Not what I want at all. Sure, there may be such a beginning for Bond, but I want my confident, capable and virtually indestructible super-spy, not his wet-behind-the-ears baptism-by-fire wannabe starter. Furthermore, the Bond we get here is a vengeful killer, not the man of honor and action or the gentleman assassin we’re used to. He didn’t even get this bad when his wife was murdered years ago. Surely this Vesper chick wasn’t more special than Diana Rigg?

The cinematography is equally inappropriate. Bond is not Bourne, nor should it be. I don’t think the fast cut, moving camera effects are suitable for Bond. Just my opinion, but when one goes to see a Bond film, after more than twenty in the can, there are certain things one should expect. Shaky cam isn’t one of them. I’m not liking the stylized title cards for places at the start of scene changes either. Too… comic booky, especially in a franchise trying to remove itself from a camp perspective. And why the need to riff on the opening of Goldfinger in oil? More tacky than homage, and it barely makes sense in the story anyway.

Killer song this time out, “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys, and it’s probably the best thing about this movie. And that’s sad. I found the music video included on the DVD to be more entertaining than the film’s title sequence, and that’s even sadder. When you can’t even get a Bond title sequence right, that’s bad.

Finally, the last thing I should feel while watching a James Bond movie is bored, and I felt it here. It had action, it even had a couple trademark outlandish Bond chases scenes but for the most part I found myself bored and distracted by this latest entry in the series. I’m unsure if I’m looking forward to the next one. Daniel Craig impressed me in Casino Royale, but not here. Any chance of Pierce Brosnan coming back? Hell, I’d take Roger Moore at this point.

This isn’t just a bad James Bond movie. It’s a bad movie, period.

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Crash (2004)

Crash ~ This 2004 offering from writer/director Paul Haggis (who would later go on to revitalize the James Bond franchise – not that it needed revitalization, in my opinion at least) won several Oscars that may have been more worthy for the individual performances of the actors than for the entire film or screenplay. Several vignettes intersect in post-9-11 Los Angeles with a slant toward exposing many different kinds of prejudice and stereotypes. It never truly comes together in my opinion. And several scenes seem to have either been ghost-written by Quentin Tarantino trying to ape his own style from Pulp Fiction – or by someone doing a bad parody of the Q-man. Sandra Bullock shows her rarely seen acting chops in an unpleasant role, and Larenz Tate and Ludacris absolutely steal the movie from the much more experienced actors involved. Worth watching for the acting, but don’t expect an ending, happy or otherwise.