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Quantum of Solace - Review

Quantum of Solace

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FROM its breathtaking opening car chase along the winding roads of the Italian lakes, through its breathless rooftop chase in Siena, right down to its speed boat mash-up on the invitingly blue crystal-clear waters of Haiti, Quantum of Solace quickly establishes itself as an action movie of high pedigree. And that’s just the first 30 minutes!

But while Bond proves himself perfectly capable of existing (and mixing it) in a Jason Bourne world, this 22nd 007 adventure then fails to make the most of its ample opportunity. Rather than achieving a fine blend of high-concept thrills and intelligent emotion, Quantum seems content merely to continue blowing stuff up.

Marc Forster’s film is a lean, mean movie that’s cold-hearted and utterly ruthless in cutting to the chase. But given that the director was brought in because of his proven track record with developing character (Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner, Stranger Than Fiction, etc), it’s a curious thing that Quantum of Solace is surprisingly short on them.

Picking up 20 minutes after the events of the far superior Casino Royale, the film finds James Bond jetting off on a global mission that’s part fuelled by his desire to gain revenge for the murder of Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved. The problem is, the men responsible form part of a shadowy organisation with links everywhere. And their latest figure-head – Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) – is intent on toppling the Bolivian government, installing a dodgy dictator and exploiting the country’s water supply for his own commercial gain.

Drawing on environmental concerns as well as power, trust and betrayal, the screenplay for Quantum of Solace – again co-penned by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade – is rife with possibility, but lacking in gripping exposition. With the emphasis clearly on action, you start to wonder whether a director’s cut may be earmarked for the future, when plot-holes are plugged and adversaries are made more flesh and blood.

Almaric’s Greene, for instance, hints at being a ruthless manipulator, but is never given the time to build a credible threat to the far more physical Bond, while his henchmen sport bad hair-cuts, bad attitudes but little in the way to suggest they have what it takes to be part of such a ruthless secret organisation.

Of the women, Gemma Arterton appears fleetingly – and irritatingly – as an agent called in to intercept Bond, but who inevitably beds him (and pays the price for doing so), while Olga Kurylenko’s Camille is a far more credible partner with a similarly burning desire for revenge. It’s interesting that Bond only gets to kiss her, fleetingly.

But the organisation itself is never really exposed as amounting to that much, while suggestions of moles and a higher agenda and reach are never fully realised. There’s no sense that Bond is fighting insurmountable odds.

A lot of the action, too, feels as though it’s trying to keep up with Bourne, rather than surpass him. It is spectacularly brutal and – particularly early on – thrilling. But even at its best – such as the rooftop chase or hand-to-hand apartment fight scene – it’s hauntingly reminiscent of Paul Greengrass’ benchmark setter (a tracking shot of Bond leaping from a rooftop, onto a balcony and into an apartment particularly so).

Thank heavens, then, for Daniel Craig, who continues to make the role his own and invest Bond with a steely determination that’s befitting the physicality of the action sequences. Craig’s 007 is a wounded beast intent on revenge and there’s little room for emotional conflict to cloud his agenda. His piercing blue eyes exude a confidence and sexuality that add to his apeal, but they equally mask an ice-cold assassin. Woe betide the men who get in his way, especially now things are personal.

Craig makes Bond an enigmatic presence; someone that looks equally at ease in a tuxedo or a T-shirt, supping Martini’s or breaking bones. You’ll want to know more about what makes him tick, or how far he’s prepared to go, even though – again – Forster’s movie doesn’t really develop his persona in the same way that Casino Royale did.

That said, Forster does include some nice nods to entries past – a Bond girl sprawled on a bed, dripping in oil (Goldfinger) as well as a licence revoked (Licence To Kill) – and ends things on a nicely dark note that suggests there’s more to be drawn from this particularly story.

But having re-captured our imagination with Casino Royale, and left us pumped up for more, Quantum of Solace doesn’t leave quite the same kind of lasting impression. It’s a hugely enjoyable ride, and Craig continues to be brilliant, but you may still feel more risk-taking is needed before 007 can emerge from the shadow cast by one of his contemporaries.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 45mins
UK Release Date: October 31, 2008

  1. I’m sick of the Bourne comparisons. Bond did all the things Bourne does way before.

    Philip    Oct 20    #
  2. Can we please stop being so harsh about James Bond. The man, the movies, are legends. They’ve been doing it for so much longer than the new pretenders. And Daniel Craig is an awesome 007. Can’t wait to see him in Quantum. He’d probably kick Bourne’s ass

    Dexter    Oct 21    #
  3. You’re both wrong and should be ashamed.

    Quatto    Oct 22    #
  4. Bond is Bond… not Bourne. It’s better now than it’s been since the days of Connery. Although the unfairly maligned Dalton duo measure up well too.

    Paul    Oct 24    #
  5. This is the real Bond. Not the cheesey, quipy, lady killer but what Bond was made to be. What MI6 wants is a controlled sociopath, psychopath and whether Bond arrived that way or MI6 made him that way this is what 007 means. It only becomes uncomfortable when 007 gives MI6 what they want. Haggis, Purvis and Wade, Forster and of course Daniel Craig this is the ultimate Bond

    sterling    Oct 31    #
  6. Seen the film, can we have our money back?

    peter davis    Nov 2    #
  7. Saw the film on the opening night along with a packed cinema. I am a long standing bond fan however this film could well be the kiss of death for the Bond franchise. When the film finished the audience let muttering how bad the film was. I have never experienced this before, I understand that the applause at premier was even muted. I saw the film with a print and the sound quality was poor and we were often not able to clearly hear the principal actors. Even Daniel looked somewhat bored throughout much like the audience at the screening I went too. This is NOT a Bond film - simply an action thriller without plot, characters, style or glamour.

    scott redgrave    Nov 2    #
  8. Saw the film today, 2.11.08, worst Bond film ever.

    Dave Pass    Nov 2    #
  9. Phew! how to ruin a good film. Either let some poor soul suffering from parkinsons edit it or a alcaholic suffering the DTs film it. I had to close my eyes in the action sequences not from excitement but from the pain of trying to focus while the editor tried to break the guiness record on the number of camera angles you can cram into a five second sequence, 42 I think. Its not clever and for me at least spoilt what was obviously a series of brilliant scenes. Pity just hope the directors cut on dvd restores the missing footage!

    gary humphris    Nov 2    #
  10. Glad it wasn’t just me. I felt physically sick from the appalling camera work. Where were the gadgets, the villains, the comedy, Q, Money Penny etc etc. Was this really a Bond movie? I have never seen an audience file out of a cinema with their heads down looking so miserable and all saying the same thing. What went wrong?

    Sarah Broughton    Nov 3    #
  11. I felt Quantum of Solace lacked substance. The opening scene made me wonder where all of a sudden Bond has a brand new Aston Martin, not long after destroying the one in Casino Royale.. come on how much money have MI6 got to dish out to their agents just to destroy million pound vehicles. The jumping out the plane without parachute.. i mean come on it’s almost going back to the over the top Die Another Day. Daniel Craig plays the role as Bond fine, but it’s the jumping around the planet in super quick time, and action everywhere, it just didn’t have much of a Bond feel about it to me, great action film, but no character. Agent Fields may as well not been in the film for lack of screentime. And the action scenes are done at such a quick pace that it is very confusing to see what is happening, with too many angles. Casino Royale had a great balance about it, with a top director in Martin Campbell who knows what it takes to make a succesful Bond film. Quantum just didn’t quite cut it, but is far from the worst Bond movie

    Ashley    Nov 3    #
  12. I seem to remember just a couple of years ago that James Bond was finished and in need of a radical shake-up? Are these the same people now saying that he’s not the same. Come on! Wake up! James Bond needed to be updated for the here and now. The old routine wasn’t working. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace are great movies. Admittedly, Casino is the better of the two. But this bold new, exciting direction shouldn’t be discouraged – and I’d suggest the popularity of both films suggests not everyone agrees with the points of view expressed here.

    Tim    Nov 4    #
  13. I’ve just seen the film and in many ways I was enjoying it until towards the end when there was either some really bad editing or a whole section of plot was missed out (deliberately?).
    When Bond and the Bolivian girl come out through the burning hole in the wall of the hotel in the desert we see Greene staggering into the desert. Bond says “wait here” and starts to follow Greene. The next thing we saw (the night we saw it) was Greene being turfed out of the boot of the car saying “now I’ve answered all your questions what happens next?” (or words to that effect). Did we miss a whole section of Bond interrogating him or was that deliberately left out? If so, it made a complete farce of the whole thing. We have no idea what Quantum was all about at all!
    Anyone else notice this?

    Chris    Nov 6    #
  14. This is a crash-bang Bond, high on action. It doesn’t disappoint – just don’t expect the brilliance of Casino Royale. it’s only Craig’s performance along with the shifting morality of Bond’s legion of enemies that forces the audience to root for him. himanshu    Nov 6    #

  15. one word – disasterous

    francis    Nov 7    #
  16. Just watched QOS and gotta say…what a waste of time. IMHO Bond is now a pile of repetitive insuperable hyperbole and recycled best of bits from the ‘real Bond films’ of yesteryear (motor oil cover chick?). Even those are too far and few to save this pile of Bourne wannabee migraine inducing waste of film.

    Oddly, I did like the opening song…but thats about it. The escape from a DC3 and a burning building pushed the credibility way beyond what I thought this film was trying to be. Or is it trying to be a fantasy?

    I would also argue that Craig is not Bond no matter how hard he tries. Lazanby, Moore, and Connery however were Bond…without trying Lose, Craig, lose the director…heck lose everyone and bring back the OG crew that made it work…for starters bring back Ken Adams.

    Fred    Nov 8    #
  17. I ent watched it yet, but from all these comments.. not sure i want to ): but i love casino royal and just wanna see what happens.. SHould i or not?!

    PhitasMate.    Nov 8    #
  18. This is a cracking good action film and a Bond for modern times. Not sure why people can’t see that! Yes, it’s flawed and not as good as Casino Royale. But the new direction should be continued and they should just learn from their current mistakes, and not the howlers of the past.

    Simon    Nov 8    #
  19. Disappointing but still a cut above most action movies. Not sure it’s entirely Bond… but at least he doesn’t get to bed another Bond bimbo. It’s about time women had a stronger role to play, which they have in both the 2 most recent movies.

    Tracey    Nov 8    #
  20. I was actually going to watch the movie….these comments make me think again…is is that bad ?

    Bernard    Nov 9    #
  21. Action sequences cool, but edits sometimes just too quick. No plot tension at all, no real sense of the baddies and the threat they pose to the world, can appreciate the producers wanting to take Bond in a new direction, but this version is almost like a rejection of everything that was Bond; no gadgets, no Q…as a harsh critic I would say; “a good movie should show [Plot] not tell, but this movie tells but never shows and what it does show is almost to quick to comprehend!”
    As a supportive commentator, “A bold attempt to take the franchise in a new direction. A bold attempt at visual style, but visual style is only part of the package, character and especially a clear plot that raises the stakes – however fast paced – is still the ingredient for true suspense. However, still think Daniel Craig is one of the best Bonds since Sean Connery and Roger Moore.”
    Perhaps they should place Bond in a more contemporary situation; focus on where a “true” Bond would be in this modern world and use that as the starting point, instead of trying to over innovate the parts of a film that support the story (editing, camera, effects) they should look at innovating Bond’s story – revenge is the domain of Tarantino and comic book heros, not of Bond, who is hero, but not quite comic book!

    Giles    Nov 10    #
  22. Bond is back with a bang, a lot of bangs and maybe a hint of a whimper.
    After seeing the film, the main comments among my friends went “it was good, but missing something”
    And I believe that something was a lack of “Bondness”. There was no bond theme during the film and no gadgets worthy of comment, which I can almost live with out, but more importantly; it lacked the charm of other lesser films in the franchise as Bond has very few lines, which leaves you missing the humour that is a key Bond trade mark…

    I believe Daniel Craig to be one of the best bonds ever, but a lack of Bond charm, which falls absolutely at the feet of the scriptwriters; means this could have been anyone’s action movie, not a Bond movie…..
    Without at least one cool gadget, a couple of razor sharp puns and at least one theme tune walk across a crowded room, the film feels like a stripped down chassis of a Bond film with all the elements required but a lack body.

    When I and my wife got home I pressed the lock button on my car keys…after seeing a Bond movie you should feel like the keys are a remote control for hidden machine guns, they could cause the boot to eject a parachute or just make the car explode like only an Aston Martin can…but sadly, (I even really did sigh to myself at that moment), they quietly and without any charm just locked the car.

    A good Bond film but not a great one.

    Allen    Nov 11    #
  23. Quantum of Solace isn’t a bad film; it just a shockingly bad one for a Bond film! It feels like the most un-Bond like outing since Licence to Kill but is that a good thing? It certainly wasn’t back in 1989 and sank the Bond franchise without a trace only to return six years later with Goldeneye. And I don’t think the majority of the film going public realise QOS is the second instalment in a prequel or even care. They want to go and see the one thing that’s remained constant since Dr No was released back in 1962. Bond. Whether he’s got blonde hair, dressed like a clown or packing midgets into suitcases and throwing them overboard, James Bond should still be Bond, James Bond. If you stray too far from the formula you’re in danger of looking like everyone else and following the herd. Everyone from Spielberg to Greengrass has plagiarized 007. QOS relegates him to the lower leagues of Vin Diesel action flicks and little else. It’s ironic that the one man to come out of this smelling of roses is Daniel Craig who was slated from the get go by critics and fans alike before Casino Royale smashed all box office records. I think the producers should start looking for another miracle because they’re going to need one to keep this franchise afloat.

    blakesey    Nov 12    #
  24. best of the best

    youtube    Nov 19    #
  25. Oh come on! This Bond is so much better than the days of false CGI (Brosnan), glib one liners (Moore) and stiff upper lipped Britishness (Dalton). It’s fast, furious and real. Get with it…or face a return to the bad old days of old.

    Kevin    Nov 22    #
  26. I too felt sick after watching this film. Sick from the bad camera work and sick to the core that I was duped into believing this was a Bond movie. There is more Bond in my left thumb than in this movie. (Daniel Craig can act a Bond for sure, I’m referring to the “Bond Movie”)

    steve    Nov 23    #