Published Nov 15, 2008

Let’s face it, the Bond franchise had fallen to a pretty low place before Casino Royale — it had become a series of nearly-unwatchable flicks that drew an audience only because of the woman in the bikini or the gadgets on the car. So I was more than a little worried that Quantum of Solace would turn back towards the bad old days. Fortunately, it didn’t; Quantum of Solace is a tight, gritty action flick that highlights Daniel Craig’s sociopathic take on Bond. Sadly, it also has big action montages that make no sense. Most of all, if you like a good movie, and you live in LA, it’s worth going to see Quantum of Solace at the Century City mall just to check out their new parking lot system.

Bond was always about the hot women and the controlled, debonair class, and Quantum of Solace has all of that. Strawberry Fields is a great throw-away Bond girl1, and Craig’s Bond manages everything on the screen — except for the Tom Ford tux he briefly wears, which, sadly, manages him. Despite that, after seeing this movie, I may be prepared to try out white jeans.

Bond was also always about the gadgetry, and, sadly, that’s absent here. While John Cleese as Q may have been taking it too far, the occasional goodie would be appropriate even in a post-Bourne Bond. The opening chase scene frankly begged for a gadget on Bond’s beleagured car, and the ending escape would have been much sweeter, and much less of a deus ex machina, with a gadget to get our hero and heroine out of their uncomfortable corner.

Bond was also about being big, and that’s the only place where this movie falls down. The two biggest scenes — at a horse race in Siena, Italy, and at a performance of La Tosca in Norway — just don’t make sense. First of all, did you know that Siena had a famous horse race? Neither did I. Second, the Siena scene has cuts so rapid that it’s impossible to get any sense of space (only the lucky will follow the action at all). The action during the Tosca performance is interspersed with shots of the performance, with the parallels between the fight and the opera being highlighted. That is, if you’re familiar with Tosca, which it’s fair to say very few people will be; the rest will just be confused.

Despite all these, Quantum of Solace holds up well. It’s distinctive, and could never be confused for anything but a Bond movie. The locations are gorgeous,2 the action is exciting,3 the women are dangerous and alluring.

And, if you go to Century City Plaza, you’ll now find that every parking space has a light over it that turns red if it’s full or green if it’s empty, so you can tell from some distance away where you can find parking.4 Now that alone makes the movie worth seeing.

1 Or maybe I just have a thing for brainy redheads.

2 Although what does it say about Haiti and Bolivia that the scenes in these countries were actually filmed in Panama and Chile, respectively?

3 Especially if you liked the Parkour scene from Casino Royale.

4 Where “you” does not include my friend’s boyfriend, who is red-green colorblind.


I think what it says about Haiti and Bolivia is that they don’t have as much infrastructure (making it hard to get film equipment to the locations you want to film in), don’t have governments willing to give tax credits to attract film industry jobs, and have ongoing problems with bandits who like to kidnap foreigners for ransom.

Have you seen the parking system at BWI? They have the lights over the stalls, but they also aggregate the data so that they can put info on lots of electronic signs throughout the lot. Where you would normally just see “<— Exit | More parking next level up | Parking —>”, you now see, “<— Exit | 90 spaces on next level | 15 spaces —>”. It’s pretty cool.

That’s actually what they have at Century Plaza, and it’s in theory really cool — but the parking lot is actually two really large, wide open levels, so there are arrows all over telling you “<— 90 spaces” or “Ahead 120 spaces” but that’s not nearly as useful as in multi-story parking lots where they can tell you whether or not to get off on that level!