The Controversial Mathis Death Scene in Quantum of Solace (2008)

DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
edited April 2013 in Bond Movies Posts: 15,393
This thread is about a very specific scene in Daniel Craig's second James Bond film Quantum of Solace. It relates to James Bond's treatment of Rene Mathis in the film in the scene where Mathis is shot dead by the Bolivian policemen. Please read the excerpt from an article I wrote on 'Cubby' Broccoli in 2009, where I deal with this very controversial scene in BOLD TEXT:

"Broccoli, Saltzman and the scriptwriters incorporated the more unpalatable elements of the Bond character in the first film Dr No, in the scene where Bond shoots Professor Dent once in the front and then once in the back with his silenced gun (“That’s a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six”, says Bond[17]). Professor Dent had already emptied the chamber of his own gun into Bond’s mocked up bed, and director Terence Young’s “preferred version had the unfortunate Professor being shot a further four times”[18] beyond the two shots fired by Bond in the finished film. Bond’s first screen kill was “cut down from the original at the behest of the censor.”[19] Although neither this scene nor the minor villain character of Professor Dent appeared in the original Fleming novel, of which the film is otherwise a faithful adaptation, it shows that from the very start the Bond producers were willing to follow Fleming’s advice of not always showing Bond in a heroic or particularly popular light. James Bond was first and foremost a government-sanctioned assassin with a licence to kill the enemies of the state in the line of duty, but he was conversely also a hero. Another clear example of this juxtaposition between the heroic, likeable Bond and the unappealing, cold and ruthless killer may be found in the most recent James Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008), a post-Cubby Broccoli production, where Bond’s ally and friend René Mathis is shot and fatally wounded by enemy police officers. After a very poignant scene where Mathis’ life ebbs away in the arms of Bond, Bond takes his friend’s lifeless body and roughly places it onto a dumpster at the side of the road. Camille, his female ally, asks, “Is this the way you treat your friends?”, to which Bond replies that Mathis was “not the sort to care”.[20] As Bond and Camille walk to their Land Rover and drive away, the director’s camera lens stays purposefully on the shot of Mathis spread-eagled atop the skip. The purpose of this approach appears to be to point out to the viewer, “What sort of a man is James Bond to do such a thing with his friend?” The silent lingering of the scene is one of the most powerful statements (and indictments) that the film makes of James Bond as a character, yet none of this should come as a surprise to the reader of Fleming’s novels, as Bond does sometimes do inexplicable, and seemingly uncaring and inhuman things in them. However, from a practical point of view, the viewer might also consider that Bond is too practical an agent in the field to allow the death of an ally and friend to alter his determination to see the job in hand through and it was perhaps neither the time nor the place to be distracted by a corpse or to be overly sentimental. Robert Harling, a friend and wartime colleague of Fleming revealed the possible source for Bond’s sometimes cold and unfeeling character in a television interview in 2002. Harling referred to how Muriel Wright, a wartime girlfriend of Fleming’s had been killed in an air raid and its subsequent effect on Fleming:

“I said to Dunstan [Curtis, of Fleming’s wartime 30 Assault Unit] that Fleming had gone off to identify her. I said he was so cut up. Dunstan said, ‘Well, you know that’s one of the troubles with Fleming. You have to get yourself killed before his emotions are involved.”[21]


In these examples from the Bond films, it is clear that the spirit of Fleming still lives on in the film series that Cubby Broccoli more than any other helped to initiate and sustain, even after the departure of his partner Harry Saltzman following The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Broccoli recounted in his autobiography how Fleming continued his detailed description of the headquarters of the British Secret Service, and his recommendation that it be located “on the entire upper floor of a modern block of offices with shops below”:[22]

Now that you've read this excerpt, I'd really love to hear your views on the Mathis scene ansd what it tells us about Daniel Craig's interpreation of James Bond. Does it send out a good message etc.?

I've always meant to start a thread on this and I'd really love to hear your views on this very controversial scene from QoS., which can be viewed on You Tube here:


P.S. The full article can be read here:

http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/albert-r-cubby-broccoli-and-blueprint.html
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Comments

  • HASEROTHASEROT has returned like the tedious inevitability of an unloved season---
    Posts: 4,399
    i had no problem with it... though others criticized it for being too inhuman...

    i agree that it shows Bond is cold, and shut off - much like in SF, his reaction to Severine being shot and killed by replying with "its a waste of good scotch."... this IS Bond.. to a degree, Bond is effected by these deaths, but he's not going to let it show or stop him in his mission...... from a logical perspective in QOS with Mathis, what else was Bond supposed to do? - take the dead body to a hospital? drop it off at the door step of a funeral home?.. Bond didn't have time to sit and sulk and start making funeral arrangements - he was a wanted man by a corrupt police force that set him up, he needed to get out of there fast.... and i think he did the best he could do, and thats at the very least get his body off of the street
  • edited March 2013 Posts: 11,175
    Its an ok scene. I get what they are trying to do in showing how a mission/the job has to come first (a good example was when Bond blanks his desperate colleague in the OHMSS book) but how come he left the two policemen in the middle of the road? Was the idea to make it look like Bond had robbed Mathis, the police had intervined and were subsequently killed? Tanner says in the next scene that "the police claim it was Bond"

    Or was the idea to make it look like a random robbery that the police had come across?
  • 002002
    Posts: 581
    he could have just left the dead body then than rather take all his money to make it look like a random robbery (which ofcourse The Police claim it was Bond) which in the end was redudant..
  • edited March 2013 Posts: 11,175
    002 wrote:
    he could have just left the dead body then than rather take all his money to make it look like a random robbery (which ofcourse The Police claim it was Bond) which in the end was redudant..
    Ive heard people on here say that the idea was to slow the police investigation down. If that was the case they didn't slow them down much as the police seemed to make up their minds quickly about what happened (it was a routine stop then Bond shot them). Actually that doesn't really fit in with the "making it look like a random robbery" theory :-??
  • PierceuhhhPierceuhhh Banned
    Posts: 104
    There is literally no reason for Bond to put Mathis in the rubbish.
    They thought it looked "cold", but didn't stop to try and put any logic behind it.
    They didn't think about what they were writing or filming.
    The film is a shameful fiasco.
  • Posts: 11,175
    Actually I suppose it does make sense. The two policemen survived and "Bond shooting them" was their story.
  • PierceuhhhPierceuhhh Banned
    Posts: 104
    Then why did Bond put Mathis in a rubbish bin?
    To help their fake story?
    QOS is hateful trash.
  • Posts: 4,353
    The only inconsistency is that Bond disposes of Mathis' body but he doesn't do anything with the two policemen's. It's been a while since I watched QOS but do we explicitly see Bond just leave the men in the middle of the road? dosen't Tanner only mention Mathis? I'd imagine he would clear up the scene after himself and shove the bodies somewhere relevtively hidden. Which makes sense since if Bond did leave all 3 bodies in the road the police would be hot on his trail at least this way he get a good few hours to get out of La Paz before they find the bodies.
  • AliAli
    Posts: 319
    I'm only on the early books of Fleming's but the cold hearted killer still hasn't materialised for me. Bond spends a lot of time dwelling over his kills and considering his own mortality. I'm just finishing up LALD and he seemed almost as upset about killing The Robber in the shark tank as he did about Leiter's similar fate. Does he become harder hearted in later books? Because the Bond I'm reading is far removed from the hard nosed Connory/Craig/Dalton type that gets praised so much on here. No actor has done a convincing job of conveying what I'm currently reading.
  • edited March 2013 Posts: 11,175
    I suppose to make it look like a robbery that the police had stumbled on. But the two policemen survived.

    @Ali. I agree with you to a strong degree. Overall the character feels very different to any of the interpretations we've seen on film (even Dalton seed a little too intense for me at times).

    I also don't buy the "gritty and realistic" argument. In his second-to-last novel YOLT Fleming effectively describes his own books as "high flown and romanticised charicarures".

    I never got the sense they were for children though and, despite his preposterous adventures, Bond always felt human. Fleming would make even some of hid death defying acts like falling down a 100 foot cliff and surviving fatal poisons) seem plausable through his text.

    Thats ultimately why I prefer the likes of CR and SF as Bond films to the likes of QoS and LTK. They get the balance of seriousness and fantasy right without feeling overly dark and brutal. With the last two it felt like they were tring too hard to be "gritty" when that wasn't what Bond was about c

    Apologies for rambling.
  • Posts: 4,353
    Ali wrote:
    I'm only on the early books of Fleming's but the cold hearted killer still hasn't materialised for me. Bond spends a lot of time dwelling over his kills and considering his own mortality. I'm just finishing up LALD and he seemed almost as upset about killing The Robber in the shark tank as he did about Leiter's similar fate. Does he become harder hearted in later books? Because the Bond I'm reading is far removed from the hard nosed Connory/Craig/Dalton type that gets praised so much on here. No actor has done a convincing job of conveying what I'm currently reading.

    You just described Craig's Bond in CR. He carries around a lot of pain with all the killing he has to do, like the way he flinches when he first finishes off Dimitrios, his first 00 killings, Obanno's murder. It's all there.

  • AliAli
    Posts: 319
    I'm not convinced though. Craig is still too mercenary, too hard nosed. Fleming's Bond was far less moody and often quite the optimist. I suppose if we crossed Craig with Moore, we might have more of a representation of literary Bond.....or a horrible mistake if it goes wrong!
  • Posts: 4,353
    Back to Mathis's actual death:

    I've gone back and watched the scene again. Bond picks up Mathis' body and dumps him before telling Camille that they need to go. You can hear the car start and drive off whilst we look at Mathis' dead body. So this raises the tantalizingly question of why did Bond dump the body? He looks as though he didn't clean up the mess he made with the police officers but he left Mathis's body in a dumpster. Why?

    I guess maybe he didn't want his friend to be lying on the floor, but a dumpster is a hell of a lot more dirtier.
  • 002002
    Posts: 581
    Ali wrote:
    I'm not convinced though. Craig is still too mercenary, too hard nosed. Fleming's Bond was far less moody and often quite the optimist. I suppose if we crossed Craig with Moore, we might have more of a representation of literary Bond.....or a horrible mistake if it goes wrong!

    Having read the first 3 Fleming novels- CR, LALD and MR i find that Craig is nothing at all like Fleming's description...Timothy Dalton or perhaps even Brosnan (if Brosnan was given better material) are the ones that fit Fleming's description

  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,090
    I have no problem with Bond dumping Mathis' body in the dumpster. In fact I encourage more of such scenes. There's a level of ambivalence that should be consistently conveyed through some of Bond's behaviour patterns, which not only adhere's closer to the source material of the novels but deconstructs the stereotype of what's expected of cinematic Bond and facilitates a more dynamic discourse.
  • Posts: 4,353
    This issue is really budding me now. I've been all over google trying to find something that answers it.

    But why did Bond leave the police? He dumped Mathis' body but left their bodies there but dumped Mathis in the trash?

    I understand the whole 'robbery' argument, but surely after the police intervened a mugger would have made an attempt to dispose of their bodies too? I think Bond had enough time to deal of with the dead police.

    It dosen;t explain why Bond left the police but disposed of Mathis. Maybe throwing him in the trash was supposed to be a symbolic, a burial of sorts.

    See here, the police are clearly still on the road:
    http://screenmusings.org/QuantumOfSolace/pages/QoS_1404.htm
  • Posts: 194
    Maybe throwing him in the trash was supposed to be a symbolic, a burial of sorts.

    That's the way I always saw it. Not that the trash is an ideal place, I thought Bond actually moving him out of the street was a bit warmer than letting him lay like the rest of the wreckage throughout his journeys. I think it was one of those things where the screenwriters wanted that moment, but realized that there were many options for it. The trash is secluded, has cover, and is somewhat symbolic as a coffin.

    Plus, I'm sure Mathis didn't mind, he's dead. There were more pressing issues at hand.
  • Posts: 4,353
    ultrabox wrote:
    Maybe throwing him in the trash was supposed to be a symbolic, a burial of sorts.

    That's the way I always saw it. Not that the trash is an ideal place, I thought Bond actually moving him out of the street was a bit warmer than letting him lay like the rest of the wreckage throughout his journeys. I think it was one of those things where the screenwriters wanted that moment, but realized that there were many options for it. The trash is secluded, has cover, and is somewhat symbolic as a coffin.

    Plus, I'm sure Mathis didn't mind, he's dead. There were more pressing issues at hand.

    I think that's the closest we'll get to an answer. But I guess this kind of stuff is supposed to be subjective.
    It's for reasons like this I wish EON would just release the Marc Forster audio commentary.

  • Posts: 1,492
    I always thought bond was giving mathis the quickest burial time would allow.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,244
    actonsteve wrote:
    I always thought bond was giving mathis the quickest burial time would allow.

    That makes all the sense in the world, actually.
  • Lancaster007Lancaster007 Shrublands Health Clinic, England
    Posts: 1,874
    I hate that scene. I think it was stupid to kill off Mathis, there could have been a great recurring relationship with Bond (not in every film, but certainly through DC tenure) and the whole episode of just dumping his body in the trash just felt so out of character, but then the whole film feels like it's been thrown in a dumpster!
  • Posts: 7,652
    The dumping of Mathis is written and filmed by people that mistake cool and calculating with insenstive and uncaring, they showed similar colours with SF and the treadment of Severine. It does not add to the characterisation of James Bond but loses something of his values as originally envisioned by Ian Fleming.

    I hope that Logan writes a less stupid version of 007.
  • Posts: 11,175
    I hate that scene. I think it was stupid to kill off Mathis, there could have been a great recurring relationship with Bond (not in every film, but certainly through DC tenure) and the whole episode of just dumping his body in the trash just felt so out of character, but then the whole film feels like it's been thrown in a dumpster!

    I sort of agree. I think its a shame that they killed off a character who had great potential. Fleming left him open in his novels.
  • PierceuhhhPierceuhhh Banned
    Posts: 104
    You are all putting more thought into the scene than the brain-dead writers did.
    They don't the deserve the privilege of having people take their terrible work seriously.
    QOS is shameful, vile. Absolute contempt for the audience.
  • edited March 2013 Posts: 12,675
    I don't have a problem with the way he died or Bond putting him in the skip. In fact I liked that bit.

    I do have a problem with the fact he died in the first place. I thought he was a great character (better than Wright's Felix imo) who didn't need to be killed off. They should've kept him and used him as a recurring character.

    I know he was only in two of the novels but Fleming never killed him off for good, if he'd lived longer and had kept writing them he might've bought him back a couple more times (is he in any of the continuation books?).
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,436
    I, too, would have loved for Mathis to be a continuing character. He was so good and there was real warmth to his friendship with Bond. However, the death scene as handled in QOS didn't bother me. I was surprised it has been termed controversial.
  • Posts: 4,353
    I, too, would have loved for Mathis to be a continuing character. He was so good and there was real warmth to his friendship with Bond. However, the death scene as handled in QOS didn't bother me. I was surprised it has been termed controversial.

    I agree, I never saw why the death scene was seen as so controversial.
    But I do disagree with Mathis becoming a recurring character. I always felt that if Mathis was to return in QOS that it should be his swansong. It was right to let the character have that 2 film arc opposed to just having him pop up and help Bond willy nilly in the future, though it means that we only get to see the marvellous Giancarlo Giainni twice, it does mean that the character is given a great resolution and a meaningful death.
  • ChristartosChristartos Banned
    Posts: 114
    Mathis needed to be in Skyfall so he could explain what is going on in that movie too.

    "Now Bond has to use his iPhone to....HACK the telecommunications network...to TRIANGULATE..Silva's location"
  • I'm surprised dc didnt nick his shoes...they were better than his....

    I thought it was touching the way he was put in the bin...one of the most emotional scenes in the series for Dc. Beats his shower suck my finger scene with vesper which was pants...
  • Posts: 1,492
    Pierceuhhh wrote:
    You are all putting more thought into the scene than the brain-dead writers did.

    They don't the deserve the privilege of having people take their terrible work seriously.
    QOS is shameful, vile. Absolute contempt for the audience.

    We obviously put more thought into the scene then you did.

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