Quantum of Solace Day 4: Casino Royale 2.0

Okay, so Bond has brought White to Siena, Italy to be interrogated, right in the middle of a big horse festival that will have surprisingly little showing in the upcoming action scene. He and M exchange a little exposition on the Vesper situation, as it turns out that her kidnapped boyfriend was actually a spy working for Quantum who apparently does the "seduce ladies and then get pretend-kidnapped to turn them" for a living. Gotta say, if I had the ability to make a living at seducing Eva Green and Stana Katic, I might just forget this terrorism stuff and stick with dating Eva Green, you know? Really, how much money can they be paying him to stop sleeping with Eva Green?

Anyway, the boyfriend, Yusef—because in the gritty realism of Quantum of Solace, the main threat that a Middle Eastern terrorist poses is dating Eva Green—was supposedly murdered and dumped at sea, but M checked Vesper’s apartment and found a lock of his hair—please rewatch Casino Royale knowing that during every scene, Eva Green has a lock of some guy’s hair at her place which is apparently labeled—so by checking DNA they know the body isn’t really Yusef’s. Of course, never mind how unlikely it is to get DNA from a hair sample.

Hey, remember how Casino Royale started after the credits sequence? We had a brief scene with Mr. White to introduce the villainy, then a parkour-y foot chase. Well, this is Casino Royale 2.0, so we get the exact same thing. Only in CR, both the scene with Le Chiffre and the action sequence advanced the plot and revealed character. Here, QoS’s White scene actually undoes CR’s plot development, as it walks back his capture in the previous movie by letting him get away. After two years of waiting to see what he would reveal when Bond interrogated him, we get nothing.

Oh, except that there are Quantum spies in MI-6 and the British government. If the movie were about Bond going after those turncoats—and it does seem more important than this Bolivia business—then that would be an important plot point. Instead, I fail to see how M’s bodyguard being a villain is a bigger deal than Alec Trevalyn turning bad in Goldeneye, or Miranda Frost being evil in Die Another Day. No one ever fretted there about how powerful an organization Janus or the North Koreans must have.

Anyway, Mitchell, M’s bodyguard—and wouldn’t it be more interesting if this were Tanner or Villiers, someone we’d seen before instead of "oh, Mitchell, my old chum!"—makes the movie go into an epileptic fit by shooting another agent, then attempting to shoot M, but missing and hitting an IV stand. Bond dives to knock M to the ground while throwing a chair at Mitchell; they then struggle for Mitchell’s gun, which goes off, shooting and apparently killing White. Mitchell makes a run for it and Bond, seeing M escaping and White presumably dead, goes after him.

This is pretty much impossible to decipher without going frame by frame, reminding me of a positive review of this movie which mentioned having to do repeat viewings to tell what was happening in the action sequences.

Bond chases Mitchell into the sewers, representing ‘Earth’ on Forster’s four elements wankery. The disconcerting shakycam is also intercut with footage of the horse racing going on aboveground; so, if the intent of the shakycam and quick-cutting is to put us in Bond’s headspace, then why are we also seeing stuff like horses and, later, an opera performance? Is that what Bond’s thinking about because he’s so bored with killing people? If it is, you’d think there’d be a few more tits in there.

At any rate, Bond and Mitchell emerge upon the crowded square, where Mitchell takes a few shots at Bond, but ends up only wounding an innocent bystander. You know, the horrors of violence, like in Casino Royale? Only there, it made thematic sense because Bond was considering giving up the spy trade to be with Vesper. Here, he’s wholly committed to being a murderous spy, so I guess it’s just there to be edgy.

Hilariously, this "the price of espionage" stuff is immediately followed by Mitchell bumping an old lady and making her drop her groceries, with even a lingering shot on her ruing her luck. It’s like if Star Wars blew up the planet Alderaan, then immediately cut to thirty seconds of an Ewok trying to wake up his dead friend. Oh, the humanity!

They even cut back to the wounded/dead bystander later, apparently so Marc Forster can just focus the camera on anything that isn’t an exciting action sequence. And even if the camera were holding still, Bond and Mitchell running on top of two-story buildings just can’t compare to the character-defining chase across cranes from Casino Royale. Maybe if they’d had to run through the horse race or if they’d commandeered horses to chase through the city, it would be more memorable—but I guess that would be too much fun.

After a couple of minutes, Bond kills Mitchell, which nets him no information and, unlike the embassy invasion in CR, has no impact on the plot. He returns to the MI-6 safehouse to find that decrepit old man Mr. White has somehow survived being shot twice in the same day and managed to escape MI-6’s clutches altogether. And apparently there are a ton of people with two bullet holes in them in Siena, as it’s impossible to hunt him down. Remind me not to vacation there.

So, again, we’ve actually undone the plot development from CR, making Vesper’s last message to James completely irrelevant. Even the knowledge that Mitchell is a traitor doesn’t lead MI-6 anywhere; they find out about the Bolivian plot by (thrillingly enough) monitoring Le Chiffre’s accounts. So the first fifteen minutes of this movie are entirely pointless.