Movies: Quantum of Solace
Daniel Craig's Bond debut, "Casino Royale," was pretty good, giving the aging series a shot in the arm after the tepid "Die Another Day." Unfortunately, the direct sequel "Quantum of Solace" drops the ball a bit:
At times, the movie, directed by Marc Forster (director of "Finding Neverland" and "Stranger Than Fiction"), feels like a clinical checklist of Bond antics than a coherent experience. Parkour/freerunning sequence? Check. Car/boat/plane chases? Check. Love 'em and leave 'em sex scene with doomed Bond girl Gemma Arterton? Check. Multiple shirtless sequences to show off Craig's bod? Check and doublecheck. There's a certain joylessness to watching Forster go through the motions with a character that's not his own.
You also never feel like Bond is even hampered by the actions of the villains. In pretty much every Bond movie, there's a part where the British superspy gets captured, or at least beaten up a little. Sure, there's never any point when he's in real danger, but at least allow the antagonist to slow him down. Instead, the climactic sequence where Bond faces off against the main bad guy devolves into silliness. Why run away when you can try to kill Bond with a fireaxe?
Finally, the movie contains some mixed messages. Forster seems to implicitly indict free market capitalism and third world exploitation while simultaneously having Bond revel in the luxuries that they provide. When Bond refuses to stay in a low-rent hotel in Bolivia, instead opting for posh elegance, you definitely lose some respect for the iconic hero.