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CR and QOS: The Bond Attitude

Is it about attitude and showboating coolness? I’ve found rather odd how even the biggest advocators for Marc Foster’s QUANTUM OF SOLACE seem to admit that CASINO ROYALE is a better film, almost as if it was a given. And I’m one of them. It is almost as if Foster’s film succeeded in what it attempted, but ignored something that made the previous film impressive. Unable to exactly point out why that is, of what I can find one important difference between them is, indeed, the attitude to portray the main character, James Bond (Daniel Craig). With director Marc Foster, Bond is a driven, down-to-business type of agent that we never quite see too much flair of. He’s always in a beaten up state, and there’s never much else to see other than what we need to see about the plot. Where in CASINO ROYALE, on the other hand, Bond basically has an attitude to himself in prestigious places, with director Martin Campbell using Bond in association to all things royal, as the title obviously indicates, adding a level of admiration to the character’s life. Perhaps that’s the Bond-esque thing that was missed in Foster people seemed to criticize.

In a re-visit to Martin Campbell’s film, the use of brands striked me as the most considerable distinction between the films, in terms of handling James Bond. It wasn’t the action, the wittiness or the plot; it was Campbell’s use of Bond in association to the world around him, letting us an appreciation to the lifestyle as much as the mission motivating him. Campbell focuses upon the class of air travel Bond uses, the car he sports to get to a hotel, the fitness of the clothes he wears to a party, et cetera, letting us feel the aura of the character as the story is moving along. These moments inform us about the type of person Bond is and the type of living he has, all being played with a classy brass by composer David Arnold that further add sophistication.

When we see Bond in the hotel, observing his fitness and his clothes, there’s a stylishness to his mannerisms and an elegance in Campbell’s follow-up to his walk to the casino that is piercing and delicate. Even the introduction of the car, 2006 Aston Martin DBS, which in the past was habitual to be introduced with a bombastic verbose set-up from Q about how cool it was, is here introduced with a slight but neat establishing shot that works more wonders to highlight the car’s greatness than a chase otherwise would. A small but consistent note by Arnold to help absorb the car’s piercing attraction, one which then explodes to establish the class of Montenegro in an aerial shot, further add a sensation of exclusiveness to the elements around Bond’s mission and his way of life. These luxurious moments by that point have made us drool over the film’s presented life, making us feel as Ian Fleming’s Bond always made us but the films often couldn’t: jealous of his lifestyle, not his super-agent abilities.

Of course, CASINO ROYALE is a film that features quite a good number of violence and blood, admittedly, but it does so as a contrast to the glamour and class, never losing a balance. It uses poker sequences and fashionable scenes to façade the poison in drinks, the knives at hands, and the blood in the shirts. It is about elegance lost in bloodshed, with each classy poker scene leading to a scene about Bond becoming bloody, for one reason or another. QUANTUM OF SOLACE, on the other hand, doesn’t feature any such balance. It is a continuous violent storm, with minimal fashion and splendor. Where Campbell had even the smallest of moments to highlight Bond’s majesty, Foster instead jumps over them to rapidly continue the plot.

Initially, the decision to feature a less prideful Bond film never bothered me. But in re-visiting CASINO ROYALE, I find myself questioning how much Foster’s film would have benefited from a more extravagant film. There’s indeed an interesting contrast to the classlessness of QUANTUM OF SOLACE, one which works rather well as an extension of Bond’s evolution to the last film with the deserts and the violence, but it seems to have compromised a certain successful element from the predecessor that should have been kept: and that’s the classy attitude; Campbell’s focus on small details about Bond’s persona and his lavishness; the luxurious elements that transcended the plot of the previous film.

This made me point better why certain scenes, or moments, from Foster worked for me and others didn’t. The Tosca operatic scene, for instance, is one that’s ridden with classic overtones of Bond and seems to feature the type of attraction associated with the style of the character, which, editing aside, is one of the film’s highlights. Other underwhelming plot-driven sequences, then again, are not as interesting: the unexceptional feel that Greene’s (Mathieu Amalric) party had leaves much to be wanted, and the minimal use of Agent Fields (Gemma Arterton) before it, with no type of sexual exchange to be seen but instead skipped, was rather shameful. The lack of exclusive life to the locales and abscence of luxurious moments leave Mathis’ place and the desert as the most unique places in the entire film, since there’s no other luxurious aerial establishment as Campbell presented, and the film only uses them for action sequences. Foster succeeds in the character’s internal spirit, but maybe it missed on part of his external life. It avoids the Bond-clichés, but maybe it becomes too abstinent about the character’s classic attraction. I’ll ponder a little more on this some other day…

2 Responses

  1. I have small question.
    In the film, there is brief aerial shot
    of “Royale-les-eaux in Montenegro”:
    Medieval town at riverside with high
    bridge to left. Do you know what is
    the location?

  2. Well, since I don’t have the exact earial shot in my head, I’m afraid I don’t have the answer for the location you’re asking for. Nevertheless, Í assume that this link in IMDB should contain the answer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381061/locations

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