So, the second of this years sequels to hugely successful franchise reboots hits the screens. Quantum of Solace is interesting in that it is the first actual Bond sequel rather than series – the action begins almost immediately after the end of Casino Royale – so its intentions to be “Not just another Bond” are clear from the beginning. Like the other aforementioned sequel it hasn’t rested on it’s laurels but once again upped its game to try to provide a better film than last time – unfortunately (for me at least) I’m not sure it’s managed this.
Oh don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic. A bruising action film from start to finish with sparsest of time given to anything deemed unnecessary. Like the Bourne films it actually uses its action scenes to further the principal character, this isn’t an indestructible Bond but rather a coldly efficient killer who just does his jobs. Gone completely are the quips following a death instead replaced by Craig looking around for his next target. You get the sense that he could read a grocery list and make it seem menacing. He also seems more at ease this time, less aware that he’s part of something big and with a lot of weight on his shoulders.
The problem with this film is that it feels like part of a bigger picture. It begins because of what occurred in an earlier film and by the end there is resolution but not a sense of closure, Bond still has to confront the big villain at some point in the future. I’m all for open ended films, but with Bond you sometimes want it to feel a little more finished. However, given that once again this is a (reasonably) intelligent Hollywood offering (of which there have been a lot this year) we can’t really complain – the major studios seem to have discovered that there is a market beyond the 12-15 year old crowd who actually don’t mind having to think occasionally between the explosions.
Final note on this, expect the BBFC to get a lot less flack this time around, it’s a rough film but never as certificate straining as the last one (or The Dark Knight for that matter).
Eagle Eye is the bastard love-child of North By Northwest, Enemy Of The State, The Game & The Manchurian Candidate – which isn’t a bad thing. Like Bond it relies on a certain physicality to its action rather than letting CGI step in (the one CGI addition being an understandable one). It’s slightly too techy for it’s own good in its explanation of who is behind the plot, but not enough to throw disbelief out of the window – high concept but not too high concept as it were.
Once again a lot of its strength comes from its lead, Shia LaBeouf taking on the Cary Grant everyman role. He’s got an easy going charm that means you root for him even when he’s being a bit of an arsehole. He feels believable, never acting as if he’s suddenly become born-again badass. Again the bruises seem real.
It’s a pleasant enough diversion, not quiet in the top tier of releases this year but strong enough to survive on it’s own (and certainly better than some other years big offering). Again it treats its audience like adults, beneath all the thrills and spills is a semi-serious message about the manner in which government intelligence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be because of the human element, but that that element is certainly needed.
Expect film quality to rise sharply now as we enter silly season, the big guns are already staking a claim on the podium.