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Quantum of Solace
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Oddly, The Title Isn't The Most Questionable Thing About This Film"
2 stars

If a movie doesn’t look like a James Bond movie, doesn’t unravel its story like a James Bond movie and doesn’t include all of the little details that we have come to expect from a James Bond film, can’t it still in good conscience be called a James Bond film? That is the question that immediately comes to mind when regarding “Quantum of Solace,” the 22nd entry in the long-running franchise and one that has chosen to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, the enormously popular and critically acclaimed 2006 entry “Casino Royale,” by eschewing the goofy gadgets, ridiculously megalomaniacal villains and silly plotting that had begun to overtake the series for a more stripped-down and back-to-basics approach that centered on a Bond who looked as though he would just as soon punch you in the throat as make some silly double-entendre about spending Christmas in Turkey. The problem is that while “Casino Royale” managed to work as a complete series reboot along the lines of “Batman Begins” while still feeling like a Bond film through and through, “Quantum of Solace” removes practically everything that we have come to know and love about the series outside of the action scenes but neglects to fill in the resulting blanks with anything for viewers to grab onto. The result is far from the worst Bond every made but it is by far the strangest of the bunch but in this particular case, “strange” doesn’t mean “good” or “interesting” as much as it does “confused” or “misfire”.

Breaking with tradition right at the top, “Quantum of Solace” picks up virtually where “Casino Royale” left off as James Bond (Daniel Craig) is ferrying Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), the bad guy that he captured in the final scene of the previous film, to Tuscany for interrogation under the auspices of his boss, M (Judi Dench). Of course, being a Bond film, “ferrying” is just another way of saying “a hellacious 15-minute chase scene through the winding roads of the Italian countryside filled with explosions, crashes and cars flying off the sides of mountains.” When he finally arrives with his catch and the questioning begins, it turns out that Mr. White is a member of a criminal organization that is so secret that they have been operating under everyone’s noses without anyone suspecting a thing. It turns out that White wasn’t just shooting the breeze as his minions help to engineer an escape that finds Bond pursuing him through the world-famous Palio horse race and a rickety construction site before he finally dispatches the guy for good. This does not set well with M--by killing him so quickly, Bond failed to get any useful information from him--and she fears that he is letting his personal feelings regarding the loss of Vesper get in the way of his duties. Bond demurs, of course, but when a secretly tagged dollar bill points the way to someone living in Haiti, Bond gets on the first plane to continue his investigation.

Within a few moments of his arrival, Bond meets this particular suspect and dispatches him quickly enough but while escaping, he inadvertently stumbles upon something bigger when he meets up with the feisty-but-gorgeous Camille (Olga Kurylenko) and she unwittingly leads him to her lover, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric), a world-renowned eco-businessman who is, inevitably, not quite what he seems to be. For one thing, he is secretly negotiating with a nasty Bolivian general (Joaquin Cosio) to finance his upcoming coup in exchange for the drilling rights to a strip of desert that may be far more valuable than it seems. For another thing, it turns out that Greene is actually a part of the mysterious evil organization, now known as Quantum, and that he has constructed a diabolical plan to use the general’s coup as a stepping-stone for seizing control of South America’s water supply through a series of artificially-controlled droughts. Bond, with Camille at his side (she wants to kill the general as revenge for murdering her entire family, find themselves jetting all over the world in pursuit of Greene while being pursued themselves by MI-6, who have become convinced that Bond has gone rogue, and by the CIA, who are planning on backing the general in his coup attempt.

As one of those who was duly impressed with the way that “Casino Royale” managed to revitalize the seemingly moribund Bond franchise by fusing a new filmmaking style onto the classic structure that the series had been employing for decades, I went into “Quantum of Solace” in the hopes that it would follow along in the footsteps of that earlier film by giving us another adventure in which the dramatic moments were just as gripping and exciting as the more conventional action set-pieces. Unfortunately, right from the start, the film gets off on the wrong foot and never gets around to righting itself. For example, while much has been written about the fact that, at 105 minutes (including credits), this is by far the shortest Bond film of all, it appears that the producers have systematically removed every moment that didn’t involve an action sequence or an explanation of the increasingly convoluted plot. The problem is that by removing those moments, such as the humor and all the little character beats that allow our heroes and villains to develop some kind of personality, all you are left with is one endless action spectacle after another with only a couple of minutes of plot detail to serve as breathing room. This might not have been a bad idea except for a couple of things. For one, the action scenes simply aren’t very exciting. Although they are well-staged from a technical standpoint, director Marc Forster (the auteur of “Monster’s Ball” and “The Kite Runner” and easily the oddest choice to direct a Bond film since Michael Apted signed on for “The World is Not Enough”) doesn’t have any real idea of what to do with them--he tries to approximate the claustrophobic feel of the fights in “Casino Royale” or the Jason Bourne films (many key members of the technical crew worked on the Bourne films) but the results here seem more confused than anything else. Besides, the sight of the Bond series, which has long led the way in terms of expensive and expansive international adventures, trying to ape one of its successors (as good as those films may be) is more than a little distressing.

The next problem is that the screenplay by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (who previously collaborated on “Casino Royale”) is nowhere near as innovative as they seem to think it is. The idea of Bond going off on a mission driven solely by vengeance is one that is intriguing and in fact, it was already covered in the highly underrated 1989 installment “The Living Daylights.” Alas, by stripping away all the character-based elements, we never get a real sense of the depth of Bond’s rage and anguish and the overwhelming thirst for revenge that causes him to risk both his life and career in his desire to quench it. As for the idea of making the story a direct continuation of the previous installment, a significant break for a series that has never really been known for its fidelity to continuity from film to film, it is an admittedly interesting notion that unfortunately goes nowhere--instead of feeling like a fully-formed story in its own right, “Quantum of Solace” inevitably winds up feeling like nothing so much as a wildly extended fourth act to “Casino Royale” that was wisely deleted because it didn’t add much of anything to the proceedings. The subplot involving Camille and her quest for vengeance is another idea taken almost wholesale from another, better Bond film (in this case, “For Your Eyes Only”) and seems shoehorned in so as to get a fabulous looking babe into the proceedings. That wouldn’t have been a bad idea if it allowed her to do anything at all of interest--she doesn’t even serve the traditional role the comely Bond sidekick outside of a chaste kiss at the very end. Finally, the film shares one of the few major flaws to be had in “Casino Royale”--the lack of a truly worthwhile villain. Once again, the screenwriters have pitted Bond up against a bad guy who is little more than a middleman for the true bad guys and the imbalance between the two is so blatant that even the film seems to realize it, based on the way that the final confrontation between the two is handled. This problem is also underlined by the miscasting of Mathieu Almaric in the role of the theoretically diabolical Greene. Look, I like Almaric, whom you should recall from his brilliant performance in last year’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” as much as the next guy but he just doesn’t quite cut it as a Bond villain--after seeing Bond going against the likes of Goldfinger and Blofeld, it is hard to take seriously a villain who looks like Roman Polanski and who screams like a little girl during his climactic face-off with 007.

“Quantum of Solace” is nowhere near the worst James Bond film--“Moonraker” still holds that dubious honor--and it does have a few good things going for it. The opening chase scene and an extended fight sequence in which Bond and his adversaries do battle while swinging on pulleys over a construction site in the manner of a Cirque de Soleil deathmatch are pretty thrilling to behold. Also thrilling to behold, albeit in a different way, is Gemma Arterton as the film’s other Bond girl--her flirty presence and Sixties-era aura (right down to being named Strawberry Fields) immediately jazzes things up when she first appears and when she eventually disappears from the proceedings, you can almost feel things sag as the result of her absence. Best of all, Daniel Craig continues to prove that he is by far the most convincing and charismatic performer to take the role of 007 since Sean Connery himself. After only two films, it is clear that Craig truly is James Bond--sadly, the same cannot be said for the film itself. By taking away all the things that have made the Bond films so unique over the years, the filmmakers have left us with nothing but a fairly non-descript action extravaganza that may excite those who only want to see 100 minutes of anonymous chases and explosions but which will leave those in the mood for an authentic Bond film feeling anything but shaken and stirred.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17375&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/14/08 00:00:00
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell ok bond flick 3 stars
3/08/17 Louise (the actual one) Dreadful, badly-directed mess with a lame villain and even lamer theme song. Bad. 2 stars
3/24/13 KingNeutron Not very memorable, and the opening song is just awful 3 stars
10/19/10 Saif A. Khan Trust me...this film gets better each time you watch it. I think it is more of a companion 4 stars
9/22/10 Dr.Lao A Bond movie with none of the things one goes to see a Bond film for. 1 stars
7/13/10 matt its grown on me. good action, good performances, just a little short and a weak-ish plot 4 stars
1/04/10 James Smith poor direction ruined action scenes. Not Bond either! 2 stars
4/24/09 David Bad. Bad. Bad. But it's predecessor was fine and the best Bond in years. 1 stars
4/12/09 hawkeye impossible to make sense of..dissapointing 2 stars
4/11/09 Baloney Minor hiccups in action sequencing and pacing don't ruin an otherwise good spy flick. 4 stars
4/01/09 action movie fan good action weak plot and characters-daniel craig is a ppor excuse for bond 3 stars
3/28/09 Michael M. Boring, incomprehensible, and pointless movie. 1 stars
3/28/09 Monday Morning The Bond franchise needs to be put down. And Daniel Craig is loathsome. 2 stars
3/26/09 CTT Not bad; features Haggis' patented anti-American BS 4 stars
3/21/09 Tiimothy After the brilliant Casino Royale, this movie was a real let down. 2 stars
2/27/09 Steve Absolutely blew me away. One of the best Bonds. 5 stars
2/27/09 Sam Golden Disappointing beyond belief. First Bond movie that made me want to leave the cinema early 1 stars
2/19/09 craig this movie was missing one crucial ingredient: INVENTIVENESS. 2 stars
2/06/09 Jess Little plot, all action. Needn't have been Bond at all. Waste of my time! 1 stars
1/26/09 pin Good action, well acted, better than reviewed. 4 stars
1/24/09 matt badly paced and directed. a mediocre action movie than happens to star Bond. 3 stars
1/19/09 Jack Boring & Stupid. These nitwits even ripped-off Goldfinger. What does that tell U? 1 stars
1/15/09 Aesop Stop looking for Brosnan/Dalton/Moore/Connery. This Bond kicks @$$. 5 stars
1/13/09 Jessie I was sorely disappointed. Tried to like it, but failed. everything needed work 1 stars
12/24/08 Justin A real piece of crap. Just a completely stupid waste of time. Why Bond why? 1 stars
12/17/08 Marc N Horrible Bond movie, Daniel Craig looks like a thug not J Bond! 1 stars
12/13/08 WB5MXO Worst Bond movie ever. Choppy,hard to follow and the close up action scenes were very jerky 2 stars
12/12/08 Annie G So incredibly disappointing after CR, I actually felt a little sick. 2 stars
12/11/08 Jack Ryan Total Crap. The fun is gone from Bond. You couldn't pay me to watch it again! 1 stars
12/08/08 s close up of M applying & removing cold creme- WTF 1 stars
12/08/08 James Blonde This movie was ok but, im so sick of shaky/jerky camera action!!! 4 stars
12/06/08 Ian this movie restores purpose and place to the Bond character. cool as hell. 5 stars
12/06/08 Jared Robb Although this wasn't a charming JB movie, it was exciting. Which isn't always good. 3 stars
12/05/08 Steven Gilpin This movie was unbelievably cool. 5 stars
12/04/08 jim Such a disappointment. Did James crack one smile in the entire movie? 2 stars
12/04/08 Jerry Orchard the worst Bodn film ever. Danile Craig please go home, James Bond please come back! 1 stars
12/01/08 Jiz Stealing water from third-world countries? What happened to the GOOD villains? 1 stars
11/29/08 Koitus Ugh... Story was hard to follow; choppy editing for action scenes, too... 1 stars
11/27/08 littlered too "shoot'em up for me" 2 stars
11/23/08 "Big Brother" The DIRECTOR ruined this movie, turned what could've been just passable into plain mediocre 2 stars
11/21/08 aliceinwonderland There is only one word for this movie: BORING 1 stars
11/19/08 Anthony Feor Quantum of Solace, directed by Michael Bay. Did anyone know what was going on? 2 stars
11/19/08 David Hey Louise, don't use big words you do not understand 5 stars
11/18/08 Bnorm I enjoyed this movie I don't really understand this amount of negative reviews 4 stars
11/18/08 mark gibson I really enjoyed it, yeh it messes with the formula but so what! 5 stars
11/18/08 Richard Remington Roger Moore is the only true James Bond,the other ones are all a bunch of clowns! 1 stars
11/17/08 Louise Badly directed, incoherent plot, lame villain - very disappointing! 2 stars
11/16/08 David G A visualy imaginative, thrilling follow up to Casino Royale 4 stars
11/16/08 mr.mike Worth seeing despite a good deal of problems. 4 stars
11/15/08 Chode Pretty lame. 2 stars
11/14/08 Ed Blackwood How to get sea sick in a theater seat 2 stars
11/14/08 Darkstar Lots of action, not as good as Casino Royal. 4 stars
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  14-Nov-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Mar-2009


  DVD: 24-Mar-2009

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