For the first time in my life, I have to admit that I’d rather be James Bond than Batman. For all you “normal people” or “women” out there, that’s serious business, an alliance shift equal only to switching which Ninja Turtle you pretend to be at recess. Now I’m not saying Quantum of Solace is a better movie than The Dark Knight; it isn’t. What I am saying, though, is (sigh) James Bond could probably take Batman in a fight. While Craig’s Bond is becoming increasingly rugged, ruthless, and low-tech, Christian Bale’s Batman is growing more gadget-dependant and authoritarian, fighting crime by employing essentially the same Big Brother tactics as our discredited intelligence agencies.
Craig’s Bond is the first to feel actual human feelings, and the first to feel remorse and admit mistakes, but he’s also the first to genuinely earn his “world’s biggest badass" title. He winces during the high-speed chases and takes some nasty hits, but, relying mostly on a handgun and a cell-phone not that much more advanced than what’s available at Radio Shack, Bond actually proves himself the unstoppable killing machine he’s always been hyped as. Unlike most of the previous Bond actors, Craig makes it easy for males in the audience to feel horribly inferior to him. Any martini-gulping bozo could save the world with a jetpack and an invisible car, but in Quantum he’s doing more with less than ever, stabbing people with glass shards, outmaneuvering jets in an old cargo plane, and surviving a “capture or kill” order from the freaking U.S. government with virtually no help from his own.
At some point there’s even dialogue or a plot, I’m pretty sure, but mostly to give you time to stop by the bathroom and wring out your underwear between action sequences. This is the Bond movie you always had to pretend to be watching to enjoy Roger Moore’s cartoonish slapstick and poorly thought-out single entendres.
There’s barely time for bedding random women, even, which may explain why Bond is so moody these days. His body appears to be constructed entirely from perfectly chiseled ab muscles, but Craig has to have the lowest batting average of any Bond to date. Subsequently though, Quantum, like its predecessor, admirably strives for a less offensive, or at least subtler, sexism than the previous films. Bond still retains his inexplicable Jedi mind control powers over women, but the misogyny level here is not much higher than that of the typical modern boner-driven action movie or soft-core pornography. And compared to cleverly named mattress candy Pussy Galore and Holly Goodhead, Olga Kurylenko’s Camille practically comes across like Ani DiFranco. She still submits to the standard film trope for female spies, exploiting her feminine charms (and parts) to gain information as a villain’s lady friend, but she also has her own subplot, and even gets her own, non-lame, action sequence, which is more than you can say for boring Batman squeeze Rachel Dawes.
So there you have it — James Bond can beat up Batman and a sort-of Bond girl ends up being a stronger woman than a character played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The world is suddenly a strange and scary place.