Quantum of Insubstitude

Dan and I were roped into a family outing to see the latest Bond this afternoon at the O2 Centre on Finchley Road. The revamp has gone well, incidentally: a fine new cafe (an Apostrophe) sits proudly in the centre of the ground floor of the building where once a much ignored fish tank and two massage chairs lumpenly stood; furthermore, Waterstone’s (formerly Books Etc) now boasts a much improved ancient history books section. We bought the Rough Guide to Italy (thinking of going to Sicily) and Tom Holland’s Persian Fire.

It was a good opening scene – Bond (Daniel Craig) and foe rattling round the tunnel on the edge of Lake Garda and what appeared to be the Carrera marble quarry with some geezer from the last film loaded into the boot in preparation for questioning by M (Judi Dench) back at the MI6 lair.

Without giving away too much of the plot, there’s the standard mix of girl(s), cars, guns and burning buildings. We zip from Italy to Bolivia back to Italy and then to Russia for the inevitable face-down with Vesper Lynd’s former boyfriend (from before she met James and became another statistic on the Bond girl list of the dead). There’s a super-secret organisation represented by a pseudo-enviromentalist with the appropriate name of Dominic Greene, who’s actually trying to gain control of the water supply of Bolivia. Look out for the amusing reference to Goldfinger when Bond gets a note from his ‘wife’ at the hotel desk.

On the whole, though, the action scenes are excellent, while the rest of the plot isn’t all that inspired. Bond is even explicitly portrayed as the emotionally handicapped iron man with a whole legion of ghosts to contend with hidden behind his steely blue eyes. Joy. Once again, it’s Bond against the establishment on the quest for evidence of wrongdoing and revenge. What happened to the humour? Okay, we see what the gadgets had to be toned down (although check out MI6’s insanely cool computer interface) after the cloking device incident, but who said we had to lose the one liners? And Moneypenny? They even seem to have cut the Bond theme out of the soundtrack.

All in all, this is Bond desperately trying not to be Bond, which is a sad, sad thing.

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