My Name is Brand. James Brand...
I expected car chases but I was hit in the face with a prolonged pursuit on Italian roads between some Alfa Romeos and Bond's own Aston Martin DBS, a chase that ended with the total destruction of the aforementioned “bad guy” cars, and probably a pretty hefty service bill for the gorgeous Aston. I expected beautiful women interacting in not-so-peaceful ways with guns, bad guys and of course James, so I got a mildly-entertaining acting performance by Olga Kurylenko. By the way, I think she's one of the very few Bond-girls not to sleep with 007 in the whole history of Bond movies.
Speaking of sleep, Ian Flemming would have probably fallen asleep from all the soap opera happening in Quantum of Solace (which isn't based on one of its novels). Not that this is a bad thing, Bond needed some romance to sweeten the hardcore fist fights that are apparently happening in all the new 007s portrayed by Daniel Craig. Of course, the mano-a-mano thingies aren't the only novelties in the new Bond movies. Since soap operas took their name from the packaged goods companies which were sponsoring most of them (Procter&Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive come to mind), so should the latest Bond movie have, right? Right.
Even though it is the last Bond film to sport Ford Motor Company vehicles (the deal had started with the 2002 “Die Another Day”), Ford went over the top in prostituting the whole picture with the extended car commercials/car chases. First there was the Aston DBS (which we have nothing against for returning into the picture), then came the new Ford Ka driven by Ms. Kurylenko (which appeared to be a little out of place in Haiti, but whatever), but the most gratuitous shots were probably the ones taken of the black Ford Edge Hybrids which kept appearing in Haiti, in Bolivia or in Austria.
Apart from the Sony-Ericsson C902 cameos and the recurring Absolut Vodka motifs, le pieces de resistance were still the Edge multiple appearances and in-your-face close-ups of the Hydrogen emblems on the cars. Would the original Ian Flemming 007 really have let product placement jump on the bandwagon just to squeeze a little bit more cash from a film? I think not, but then again, the James Bond portrayed in the novels was less reliant on modern gadgetry.
Of course, producers of the movie stated that the number of brands which were allowed picture time was carefully limited, although my guess is that that the money involved weighed a little bit more than the value of the franchise principles. I just hope the 23rd iteration of 007 won't find us watching James wash his bloody clothes with Tide or refreshing his breath with some Tic Tacs just before kissing Miss Moneypenny (apparently she's making a comeback in the next movie).
The major downside of James Bond becoming so commercially promiscuous is the fact that it dilutes both his persona AND the image of the products involved on the long run. Sure, it might be cool now to buy a gadget-filled special edition of a Sony-Ericsson mobile phone, but imagine what the next years could bring. We could begin associating James Bond with diapers or toilet paper. Who would want to put their babies in a diaper that spies on their kids' pooh or wipe their butt with a James Bond toilet paper? I mean, do you want it shaken or... stirred?