Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Quantum Of Solace

Sunday, 16 November 2008

I thought it was pretty good. Of course, it’s always easier to enjoy a film when the reviewers predict you’ll be disappointed.

  Many critics have complained that the new Bond movie is dour and humourless. They miss the puns, the trivia, the fine wines and hot love scenes of the Connery/Moore/Brosnan episodes. But I think that’s very unfair, when they all applauded Casino Royale.

  It was hard for me to love that first one quite as much as some did, because the crucial poker scene was so PREPOSTEROUS - quite apart from the old chestnut of everyone having a hand so big that it would be statistically more likely for Austin to come back and win the X Factor, everybody revealed their cards out of turn, half of them should have spotted danger and folded, and James Bond finding a straight flush when eight other people have full houses or quads in no way demonstrates that he is “the greatest player at MI6”. But Daniel Craig did the falling in love / betrayal / heartbreak thing beautifully. That happy, innocent scene in the boat with Vesper where he’s going to quit the service and live a normal life, still brings a lump to my throat. It’s the most human James Bond has ever been.

  That first film took us back to the beginning: Bond has just got his licence to kill. He’s a green 00. If we’re going to buy that young fellow, new to killing, recently heartbroken, we have to accept a phase of soulless, gloomy professionalism in the sequel. If he immediately started cracking puns about “a couple of secret weapons but I’ve got them in hand”, it would just be stupid. It would make a mockery of the first film.

  In plot terms, A Quantum Of Solace feels a lot like the middle part of a trilogy. Surely in episode three, he will blow the lid off the Quantum organization and we’ll look back at the second film as a well-made bridge to that climax. Aren’t they asking for a leap of faith? I’ll happily give him this second film to be numbed by his experience in episode one, and the third film to concentrate on the job in hand before chilling out a bit. If Daniel Craig makes a fourth film - surely that’s the time to be more relaxed, more urbane, more appreciative of the women he seduces, settled into the job, enjoying the perks, confident enough to make jokes? We’re meant to be watching a puberty here. Connery and Moore were playing an older Bond. If Craig is still there in two films’ time, throwing the wit and enjoyment of an older man into the anger and focus of the young spy we’re seeing now, I think we’ll look back on his canon as a really brilliant series of films, developing a real proper character.


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Jim at 11:08 am on November 17th, 2008

Excellent. I hear the Film 2009 job has opened up—you should get your resumé in to the beeb.

Stephen Fuller at 2:28 pm on November 17th, 2008

Here, here!

My thoughts exactly about critics - who so vociferously acclaimed Casino Royale - slamming Quantum of Solace as witless and dour.

I must confess, my favourite Bond films are the early ones. The interplay between Connery and Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Bernard Lee (M) and Desmond Llewelyn (Q) is wonderful.

You are right, too, that whenever you see a poker game in a film, you just know that the hero, or heroine, is going to have a straight flush, which will win the pot by beating a quad or a full house, or both!... Could happen!

Jim at 5:05 pm on November 17th, 2008

Not to me :-(

One of the last episodes of Shark had a pretty cringey poker moment—“I have two pair, fours and ... fours”.

Honestly, I’d have expected more from James Woods.

Tom at 6:57 pm on November 17th, 2008

Hey Vicky I agree about the preposterous james bond film, the thing that annoyed me the most about it was that James must have called a pre-flop raise with 5/6 suited or whatever it was. Now if he’s the best player at M16, then i thinks its best that they stick to saving us civvy’s and not make any more drastic moves on the poker front.
I just heard the ‘dove skin cream’ advert and i was wondering if you did the voice over as the person that did sounds uncanningly like yourself?

Victoria Coren at 10:45 pm on November 17th, 2008

!! About once a month I get asked if I did the voiceover for the M&S food adverts (that’s Dervla Kirwan). I don’t know who does the Dove adverts, but I can promise that’s not me either - I don’t do voiceovers for any advertising!
(Except the London EPT… ;-) )

Tom at 10:53 pm on November 17th, 2008

Haha, also i want to ask what is your favourite Poker game and why? Mine are Pot limit omaha and limit hold’em mainly because they’re not as popular with the young crazy guys, well thats quickly changing with omaha.

R at 11:07 pm on November 17th, 2008

Wherever our hero will go - you may be certain that his darkest phase of confusion and disorientation is a thing of the past:

The period when he was wearing Seiko watches.

His mother Monique Delacroix (may God rest her soul!) would have disinherited him for this disgraceful faux pas!!!

David Bodycombe at 10:04 am on November 18th, 2008

I liked the action sequences but there were too many clunkily handled issues. Like: whose side was Mathis on? In Casino Royale he turned out to be a bad guy. Now suddenly he’s a good guy and given his own pad by MI6? What was all that bit about “Is Mathis an alias? Not a very good one is it?” all about?

And why shoot someone when they’ve already drank the you-know-what?

And surely there was a better line to be had when the girl turned up with the car a second time than “You’re not going to shoot me, are you”. Wha?

7/10 at best

Andy the Dealer at 5:53 pm on November 18th, 2008

It won’t be long before the only person capable of leaving a comment on here will be Bond himself!

The first challenge, given that I am very clumsy on a keyboard is to type in a Name I cannot see followed by an Email in the same category and finally, for now, I have to type in an assortment of letters and numbers to ascertain that I’m not a spammer.  How long will it be before a retina scan will be required?

You’re absolutely right about Quantum of Solace Vicky.  The problem I have is a poor memory for specifics and remembering the details of Bond’s deep felt love for Vesper, a crucial starting point for his psyche during the film was difficult for me, especially as I can’t remember what she looked like having seen someone far more beautiful yesterday!

Victoria Coren at 6:10 pm on November 18th, 2008

A name you can’t see? It’s meant to come up when you type it! It does when I type mine… And the word thing underneath (which apparently is called a “Caphtca”) was something the web designer put in because there were too many spam comments. I could take it away if it’s really annoying?? But it does save the moderator having to weed out lots of Viag-verts.

  re. favourite poker game, for serious cash games it would be PLH, for tournaments NLH, and in my home game my favourite changes all the time - currently it’s Leaners & Club Honours. (Superstud, with leaners wild for the high hand and club honours 10-A wild for the high…...)

Dave at 8:59 pm on November 18th, 2008

Agreed. I was part of the “Nooooooo, Daniel Craig will be an AWFUL Bond” school of thought when he first got the job, based mainly on the fact that he isn’t Sean Connery (having said that, I also thought that Paul Rodgers would be a crap Queen singer based on the fact that he isn’t Freddie Mercury, and that last album has proved me right) but I enjoyed Casino Royale - not knowing enough about poker to care whether those scenes were plausible or not - and I thought Quantum was a pretty nifty follow-up.

Oh, and I’m loving “Only Connect” too (he says, sucking up shamelessly), any word yet on a 2nd series?

David Young at 9:19 pm on November 18th, 2008

The thing that’s missing from the post-Connery Bond movies is the snobbery and one-upmanship. In From Russia with Love, Bond suspects that Red Grant isn’t a real English gentleman because he orders red wine with fish. In Goldfinger he suggests wearing earmuffs to listen to the Beatles. In Diamonds are Forever he shows up his boss M for not understanding the fermentation of sherry. All of that is now missing.

John at 8:16 am on November 20th, 2008

Hi Victoria… Craig’s Casino Royale I didn’t get, but Quantum is definitely New Bond and works brilliantly.  A great film. It’s just a shame piano-man Jools Holland as the axe wielding baddy wasn’t allowed to say ‘Here’s Johnny!’
Apologies to anyone who has already pointed this out.  John.

Colin at 8:55 pm on November 24th, 2008

Just a thought about the poker scenes in Casino Royale, wasn’t John Duthie the man behind them? If that’s the case maybe that says more about his own hand range if he calls pre-flop raises with 5/6 suited :)

Mind you, I’ve seen John play some amazing hands.

andrew at 1:04 pm on December 7th, 2008

me posting on the old threads again, now that everyone else is reading the newer ones

good to see a positive review of QOS, but despite there being many bad reviews I shall still treat myself to a night out to see it over Xmas break.

A Bond anecdote:

being a bit of an anorak and fan of the 60’s I like the earlier Bond films, but not particularly Connery. I seem to have passed this on to my older son, and I now cringe whenever I hear him telling someone for the nth time about vulcan bombers in Thunderball and the possible urban myth about Tom Jones passing out when singing the final (long) note when recording the theme for the same film.)

Victoria Coren

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