Jesse Hassenger begs to differ.
5. It is not as good as Casino Royale. Taken by itself, this is fair and true. It’s not really as awesome as Casino Royale. You know what else wasn’t as awesome as Casino Royale? Like ninety percent of the other twenty Bond movies, and, I’m just guessing, probably two to three of this year’s eventual Best Picture nominees. Here’s another newsflash: the third Christopher Nolan Batman movie won’t be as good as The Dark Knight. [Ew, really? –Ed.]
4. It is basically just a Jason Bourne movie starring Daniel Craig.
There is certainly a Bourne influence on this rebooted Bond in that the
cuts are faster, the espionage is murkier, and Bond spends a lot more
time running across roofs and jumping through windows. But we’re still
dealing with Bond. He has all of his memories. He has a boss, even
though she gets mad at him a lot. He wasn’t betrayed by his
government, although sometimes there are shady doings a-transpirin’. I
guess I never realized that the Bourne trilogy invented shady
government business and international espionage, which explains why so
many of those paranoid conspiracy thrillers of the seventies end with
Warren Beatty or Dustin Hoffman finding out it was Mothra all along.
Which is to say: what is up with this lionization of the freaking
Bourne movies? The first one is a lot of fun, and the other two are
good enough, but I’m not missing anything when I say Supremacy and
Ultimatum have almost the exact same story, right? And that nothing
all that complex happens in them except the fight/chase choreography?
3. It sheds most of Bond’s trademarks. Okay, big ol’ SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen Quantum and/or any other Bond movies: In this movie, Bond (a.) beds a lady (b.) who is supposed to be an espionage professional (c.) within half an hour of meeting her, before (d.) jumping out of an airplane which he was using to locate the bad guy’s lair which turns out to be a (e.) desert fortress of sorts, (f.) financed by an international secret organization of many bad guys, which this particular bad guy plans to use to (g.) mess with Bolivia’s water supply which forces Bond to essentially (h.) blow it up while (i.) engaging in a massive shoot-out and well as (j.) hand-to-hand combat. Oh, and he totally drinks a martini and wears a bunch of suits, if perhaps less studiously than he did during the Cold War. How much more Bond should this movie have been? Do we need to see Daniel Craig fucking two chicks at once while simultaneously adjusting his bow-tie flamethrower to murder one of them and making a pun about the other’s improbable name?
2. It is nonstop mindless, impossible-to-follow action. I dunno, sometimes the cutting is pretty fast and I probably couldn’t draw a diagram of what happens in the opening car chase, but anyone who’s seen an action movie in the past five years (like, say, one of those Bourne pictures, which are far more abstract) should be able to follow most of it pretty easily. And the action isn’t nearly wall-to-wall. It’s an action movie, but it’s not like Bond will blow up if he dips below fifty miles per hour. I will admit that the first half-hour is mainly a series of elaborate chases, but I will also say that (k.) that is awesome and (l.) there’s plenty of talking and stuff that happens in the middle, if you’re into that. The talking bits aren’t quite as interesting as Casino Royale, especially the women (the wrong Bond girl gets more screen time in Quantum), but that’s probably why the movie has six or seven action sequences: to make up for that! Some people are so ungrateful.
1. It is far too brooding and serious. Again, please refer to items (a.) through (j.). Please also refer to everyone’s complaints that Pierce Brosnan was too flip, lightweight, cartoonish, and generally Moore-esque. This is a more serious Bond, yes. But it’s nowhere near as self-serious as say, that last Rambo movie (and yet it’s also far, far less of a nauseating cartoon). It’s very entertaining; Craig just doesn’t smile as much. Look into his piercing blue eyes and tell me if that’s a problem. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
I swear I’m not an easier lay than Christmas Jones. I’m not saying this is the best Bond movie ever or anything, but it’s certainly a decent companion piece to Casino Royale and better than most or all of the Brosnan Bonds (and I liked most of the Brosnan ones). I’m all for a critical eye, and I’d love to read a serious review of this movie that considers its shortcomings compared to Casino Royale in a reasoned and non-condescending way (so Anthony Lane, you’re out), but mostly Bond movies seem to hit the “complain!!” reflexes pretty hard.
However: if any of these five tenets can be twisted around in order to praise Transporter 3 prematurely, count me in.