Daniel Craig is James Bond in Quantum of Solace
Quantum of Solace reviewed by… Zorin Industries
To paraphrase Mr. White, “we have people everywhere” ready to criticise Quantum of Solace. Some of the critics have already ended their Royale inspired affair with Commander James Bond and abandoned him overnight like a bored double agent. But when the dust has settled on Quantum of Solace, some deserters may ultimately reassess their allegiances as the 22nd Bond film is a masterful entry in the series and the one that really puts the Persian cat amongst the pigeons.
It is no longer Casino Royale that rebooted James Bond 007 in the cinema. Quantum of Solace is the real groundbreaking episode in Bond’s illustrious filmic career. Granted, Royale paved a path, but Solace allows Bond to strut down it and finally stretch his wings once clipped by Vesper Lynd.
Accelerating through a genuinely menacing overture, this Bond launches proceedings with a u–turn spin on the traditional car chase. Multiple cameras and aerial master shots are literally shunted aside for a new and breathtakingly visceral depiction on the car pursuit – one that creates its danger with astute quickfire editing and dirty choices of shots. Knowing that Bond has reinvented the car chase on screen many times over, Marc Forster does exactly that again by getting us and his camera right in the heart of the chase via the fundamentals of cinema – namely editing.
A genuine jeopardy is created as the cars pile up and the Aston almost cries out in pain as it screeches this pre–title sequence to a cool freeze frame and Jack White and Alicia Keys dirty, superfunk grenade of a title song kicks in like a slap in the face. MK12’s parched title graphics are old school Turkish Delight ad with Daniel Craig’s silhouette blasting feisty crumpet off spinning zoetropes and sand dunes aplenty. And whilst this is brilliantly familiar and recognisable, Quantum of Solace soon takes no prisoners in the audience as Bond loses and gains his own prisoners and allies as quickly as it does to fire a bullet.
There is genuinely no time to breathe when watching Quantum of Solace (the freefall moment is full–on terrifying). The audience has to think as quickly as Bond does. Some may criticise the speed of the first half of the narrative. But in the real world, secret agents probably don’t have enough time to pull a gun on someone let alone stay at their pad for the weekend and overhear villainous schemes in every detail.
The early investigative nature of Bond’s journey is as quick and stylish as it is intriguing and – yet still – oddly familiar. Solace is not reinventing the wheel. It just remembers that characters stories – like wheels – need to go full circle to be most effective. All the main characters – M, Leiter, Camille, Dominic Greene, Mr. White and of course Bond himself – have their own emotional arcs running concurrently or at odds to each other. Rarely have the characters in a Bond film been so rounded and narratively intertwined. And because of that, Quantum of Solace emerges as a very mature 007 picture. Bond is perhaps less vulnerable in this film but you can see the bruises of Casino Royale still sting – they are just beautifully underplayed. More importantly, they are not relied on to fuel the story. Quantum of Solace is not a wake for Vesper. It is about moving on. The question Bond has to ask himself is when does that happen?
Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli often claim to set out to make the new From Russia with Love but end up crafting a new Thunderball. Quantum of Solace is very much in the From Russia camp. Like the other actors sophomore Bond films (The Man with the Golden Gun, Licence to Kill and even Tomorrow Never Dies), Solace is a lean novella of a 007 film. It unfurls itself without the usual bombastic fanfare and bravado that was still evident and perhaps necessary in Casino Royale. Like its second–round cousin From Russia with Love, Solace is not an overblown story, it doesn’t globe trot for the sake of it and its characters imbue the film with a sort of mournful sadism.
The floating Tosca scenes are indeed the film’s triumph. But they do so without stalling the narrative. Forster and his editors editing choices are stunning as Bond lures his prey out into the open whilst Puccini’s characters do the same on stage. Like Sienna’s Palio paralleled with a glorious and balletic fight on ropes in a disused art gallery, Forster intercuts the tension and finality of Tosca with Bond unearthing Quantum’s big plan via gift–bag earpieces. Characters soon flee but meet in a corridor. Unable to pull their guns on each other, we cut to Tosca’s bullies doing that instead as Puccini’s librettos punctuate Bond on the run and a chillingly effective use of the greatest sound effect of all – silence.
Quantum of Solace finally sees a 007 film get away from Bond–As–Icon. The 1990’s did not always allow the character to breathe amidst all the paraphernalia of James Bond plc. Even Casino Royale had to (rightly so) blatantly present the tuxedo, the Aston, the Martinis, guns and girls. Solace has these elements in place. It just chooses to not showboat them or at least not use them to tick boxes that don’t further the story or our insight into Bond. The traditional Vodka Martini moment now becomes something that lays Bond’s character wide open. Defeatedly necking multiple Vodka Martinis in a series first for 007 (Craig does bitter drunk very well), the character now claims to not be able to name a drink he once – in happier times – christened a ‘Vesper’.
The cast is a savvy one. Olga Kurylenko’s Camille continues the elegance and sadness of Vesper but is more of an alley cat than a trapped bird. Resourceful and feisty without “being a match for Bond”, there is almost a brother and sister vibe between the two. Camille’s early scenes are perhaps clumsily handled (the first shared scene between her and Greene is very unclear and the film’s only narrative glitch) but the character soon grows from being a defeatist avenger to someone much more emotionally practical for Bond. If 007 is in need of emotional closure, Camille is his gadget of this film.
Gemma Arterton’s Fields is sadly underused, but then a temp secretary who is nearly played as a non–Eton Essex girl might well be. Her demise serves a stark lesson for Bond and M’s anger at him sees Fields brief cameo become more influential to his journey than first imagined. The death by oil moment is thankfully not as homage–y as first reported – especially when seen in the context of what happens next.
Judi Dench’s M is less sneering and overly ballsy in this film. She is a constant and reassuring presence for the audience and Bond, but does so without the hammy Purvis and Wade “Cold War” isms. I’m not sure I want to see her act as scolded child infront of Tim Piggot Smith’s brief Foreign Secretary (Geoffrey Keen would never have done that – but then he was always a friendlier face in the office always stalling time before he has to see the “PM”) but Solace is all about working within parameters you sometimes wish were not there.
Mathieu Almaric does well in the deliberately vague role of Dominic Greene. Le Chiffre and Quantum’s villains do not need to make themselves clear to the audience. They are batons that Bond just has to stop being successfully handed on. Almaric plays Greene like a reptilian Roman Polanski. There is obviously a greater plan here with Quantum. But we don’t have to know about it all now. Greene is an impatient adversary but – again – a very familiar antagonist to the Bond series. Like Bond, Felix Leiter and even M herself, there is a sense that Dominic Greene too has to prove himself to his bosses – superiors we never see though their tentacles are stretching wide and deep. Only Giancarlo Giannini’s Mathis is at one with his lot. It is not ideal for his character, but there is a peace to his role in this film rather than blatant exposition. His departure scene sees Bond struggle with his demons all over again – just as he thinks he has got them tamed. Daniel Craig balances loss with anger and fortitude stunningly well. Never has such an astute actor inhabited the role. He is still Bond as hero. We do not have Bond as flawed human like the rest of us. He is still a cinematic hero. A marked and repeated vibe when the film ended was the shared belief throughout a lot of people in the audience that Craig is already the most effective James Bond 007 we have seen. Phrases like “best” are always regressive, but they are definitely discussions people will have in the pub afterwards.
Solace does not emerge as a short Bond film at all. It is not devoid of exposition. It just makes the audience work a bit harder – not something we’re necessarily used to with James Bond films. Casino Royale naturally ended with Bond recuperating in Italy and that was around the 105 minute mark. The set pieces do not outstay their welcome. A tiny flaw of the African Rundown and Miami Airport scenes of Royale was that they were slightly overdrawn. In Solace, a car chase, a foot chase, a boat chase and a dog fight are played out as long as they might do in reality. The locations are indeed characters in themselves with Bolivia and its people (because of Greene’s schemes) adding poignancy to a Bond film we don’t always see. Solace also feels like it escaped the necessary but sometimes obvious backdrop of Pinewood Studios. There is no sense of the second unit running away from the first in this. Bolivia and Haiti / Panama are beautifully barren, making way for the obvious parallels between the landscape and the characters mindsets.
Some savvy filmic feng–shui sees the gunbarrel cleverly moved, replacing the over–designed tics of the Brosnan motif with a 1970’s simplicity and giving the usually ignored end credits a Bansky–style bloody wall motif on which to scroll the titles. David Arnold’s score is a tad over–egged earlier on (and Mickey Mouses the action shamelessly) but eventually becomes a very dignified project of his. Ignoring the obvious shopping mall pan–pipes he gives Chile and Bolivia a genuine ethnic soul and the likes of Camille’s theme mirrors the dignity afforded Royale with Vesper’s theme. Arnold’s work on the Bregenz scenes soar with a driving theme that echoes Richard Robbins’ quintessentially English work on The Remains of the Day. The rest of the score is at its best when it occasionally tips a hat to the early 80’s synth drama of The Long Good Friday and even The Sweeny.
Quantum of Solace probably ends with its best scene. Bond tracks someone down and confronts them. But they are not alone and it is the dialogue Daniel Craig has with that person that underlines the stunning economy and narrative care that went into Quantum of Solace. Like this film and the Craig tenure itself, the samey “Oh James” moment is replaced with a harsh attack on the job and the betrayals at play. Bond has his own metaphorical Funeral In Moscow, gives a complete stranger their own quantum of solace and – in doing so – finds his.
James Bond is still in a state of repair – underlined by Solace continuing Royale‘s maybe / maybe not device of citing set pieces within unfinished and renovated Venetian houses, quarries, art galleries and scaffolding. There will be criticism at how Bond “sort of” leaves Greene to his own devices at the end, but not when you remember M’s mantra throughout the film of “we need them alive” has finally seeped into Bond’s consciousness. ‘Repair’ and ‘renovation’ are key themes both in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Watching them together is much advised. They are sister films cut from the same cloth. But Solace actually represents a bolder leap forward for James Bond than Royale (which for good or bad now seems very familiar when alongside Solace). The 2008 film takes the baton afforded to Bond in 2006 and not so much lets him run with it in the way he wants to, but allows Eon Productions to do likewise. Marc Forster is one of the best directors Bond has had. There is an economy and verve to Quantum of Solace. It does not short change the audience at any point. And oddly, the film tips a hat to The Spy Who Loved Me more than Goldfinger. Who would have thought that eh? But a rooftop push, a dressed up couple stranded in the desert, enough hotel receptionists to give Valerie Leon a run for her money, a nod to Moore’s pseudonymn “Robert Sterling” and a gunbarrel that is very Roger Moore echoes 1977 just as much as it does Goldfinger 1964.
James Bond would be a fool to not take Marc Forster along for the ride next time round as – apparently – “James Bond Will Return”. Fancy that?
Quantum of Solace reviewed by… The Dove
Well, after purchasing the DVD yesterday and watching Quantum last night I can say with 100% confidence that my initial thoughts and feelings about the movie have not changed! I still think it’s a bloody great Bond film and still rank it 9.5 out of 10!
I am now in the process of ranking it amongst the other 21 Bond films and while I’m still making a final decision on exactly where to place it, it’s definitely in my top 3 favorites (have yet to decide if it’s going to be #2 or #3)…
I still rank Casino Royale above it, but only by a very slim margin, as Quantum of Solace comes very close.
The only tidbits which again lower Quantum‘s ranking with me are as follows, and these are not major flaws such as the ones in films like The Man With The Golden Gun, The World Is Not Enough, A View To A Kill or Die Another Day.
Elvis: Again, underdeveloped as a character… I never understood what’s up with his wig?
MK12’s titles: Very ho-hum for a Bond film title sequence… Daniel Kleinman’s titles are much better… Granted these titles that MK12 came up with would have worked better for a 007 video game.
Greg Beam character: Perhaps the most annoying CIA character we’ve seen in a Bond film since Michael Madsen’s Falco in Die Another Day!
The Boat Chase: It’s not nearly as bad as many here are making it out to be, but still it could have been developed more… I find the boat chase in The World is not Enough to be much more thrilling.
Apart from these little nitpicks, the film is perfect!
Quantum of Solace reviewed by… Mr. Blofeld
I can remember the feeling I had, sitting in the darkened theatre, waiting for the opening frames of Quantum of Solace to come onscreen; it was… exhilaration.
At first, it was odd to hear the muted MGM lion and Columbia logo, but it instantly clicked into place when the first scene kicked on. That beautiful, ominous pull-in to the highway at the edge of the coast: My stomach damn-near flipped over. The quick cuts to a wheel, men driving a car, a flash of ammunition, Bond eyes watching the road… then turning…
BAM! We’re into the action, and in for a fantastic ride.
I loved what Marc Forster did with this film. I had my fears before release that he would be another Irvin Kershner (Never Say Never Again) or Michael Apted (The World is not Enough), but the film more than won me over; it’s easily one of his best.
Daniel Craig shines once again in the lead role of James Bond, the blunt instrument wielded by a government paralyzed with fear. His seemingly innate ability to express the subtlest of emotions (the best example involves a scene where one of Bond’s allies lies dying) really brings the character to life; it’s a damned shame he hasn’t been nominated by the Academy for acting yet.
Olga Kurylenko aquitted herself well in both the action and emotional scenes; in particular, I was floored by her incredibly authentic-seeming reaction to a blazing wall of fire during the climax, as she suddenly flashes back to a childhood nightmare and backs away into a fetal position, eyes glazed open in a sort of shell-shock. I hope she gets more (and better) roles following this film.
Mathieu Amalric really gives off an aura of wormy evil, attempting to eyeball his way out of one tough situation after another until he finally cracks and goes after Bond with a fire axe in a burning building. His main henchman Elvis (portrayed by Anatole Taubman, an actor I’d never heard of before seeing him in this film) seems little more than a lightweight on first viewing, but on repeat showings turns into an amusing sideshow to the main plot; he serves (more often than not) as the anti-henchman, and I was simply delighted at the actor’s heretofore undiscovered comic talents (right down to the heart-shaped belt buckle he wears to a black-tie opera). Taubman is the gem of the film.
The man set to profit from the main villainous scheme of the film, General Medrano, is played by a Mexican actor named Joaquín Cosio, who, though his role is small, brings a sizable amount of menace to the film. Jesper Christiansen, returning as the mysterious Mr. White, makes the most of his limited screen time; his face was mostly blank and inexpressive in Casino Royale, so it was a little creepy to see him giggling like a schoolboy at the sight of the clueless MI6 operatives attempting to interrogate him at the beginning of the film.
Gemma Arterton is very nice in the small role of Agent Fields; I think her most effective scene comes when Bond tells her, while kissing her back, that they’ve been invited to a party, and she rather honestly says that she’s got nothing to wear. It’s not the line itself, but the way she says it that seals the deal for me. Judi Dench, once again, is simply wonderful as M, even if she does admit in interviews that, yes, she is doing the Bond films only for the paychecks. Jeffrey Wright, back as Felix Leiter again, doesn’t get much of a reintroducion, but he uses the lines and time given him to put forth to the audience the honest truth that Leiter is the coolest cat this side of Jack Lord.
Finally, a round of applause to Giancarlo Giannini; his Mathis character seemed a little forced during the poker scenes of Casino Royale, but his touching portrayal in this film stood out for me; specifically, the scene on the airplane and his final scene. It’s not often I cry during a film, but this proved the exception to the rule in a big way.
Now, for the rest of the film? Top notch. The action was clearly visible for me in both the cinema and the sitting room, including the fisticuffs and chase scenes, which is more than I can say for similar scenes in the last two Bourne films (I’m assuming Forster restrained second-unit director Dan Bradley from going hog-wild with the shakey-cam). The colour palette was gorgeous, bringing out the vibrancy of the locations without the aid of digital grading and enhancement (as Casino Royale had done to its stock in post-production).
The score by David Arnold was phenomenal, providing a fantastic grounding to all the action and emotional scenes, as well as seeming bringing out tenor in darker moments. I noticed that, besides quoting the James Bond theme and the film’s theme song, there were also quotes from You Know My Name, the theme song from Casino Royale, as well as a recurring action motif that could well be dubbed the Quantum Theme.
As for the main titles song, Another Way to Die by Jack White and Alicia Keys; I was initially baffled by it when it first leaked out, but over the months I grew to really like it, and (despite the bizarre shouting towards the end of the finished track) it works perfectly with the titles. I was surprised at how many fans hated MK12’s titles; I thought they came quite naturally from the end of the Casino Royale titles: Bond walks toward the camera shooting his gun at the end of that one, where, in the beginning of these titles, Bond walks away from the camera shooting his gun.
I also loved the fantastic imagery of the titles (being a hell of a lot more imaginative than anything Maurice Binder ever came up with!), including Bond confronting the figure of an enormous woman, the array of women in the zoetrope (or women in the Sun, if you prefer a Biblical reference), and, most strikingly of all, to my eyes, the thousands of Bonds falling into the depths of a sinkhole (or is it an eyeball?), a clear reference to René Magritte’s classic work Golgconda, which features a similar image of endless men falling across a landscape.
This brings us to some of the interesting bridges throughout the film, most specifically, the gunbarrel at the end and the freeze frame at the end of the pre-titles sequence. The gunbarrel had not been used (before Quantum of Solace) as a segue into the end credits since Dr. No, which featured the black silhouette of Bond set against the red of the gunbarrel “eye” as the Bond theme played across the credits. I liked this usage of it, in that it seemed to signify an end of the events spawning from Casino Royale, which (as you may remember) began with a gunbarrel into the opening titles; in this way, it is similar to Dr. No, in that the gunbarrel is used to bookend the entire picture.
Finally, the freeze frame at the end of the pre-titles sequence seems to harken back to the older, classic fades of the James Bond films into titles (such as Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Octopussy), whereby a genuinely pithy quote would be uttered by Bond, and then, on to the credits!
And, with that… “It’s time to get out!”
Quantum of Solace reviewed by… danielcraigisjamesbond007
From the beginning: I was kind of disappointed that the gunbarrel wasn’t put at the beginning of the movie. I would have loved to see that happen, but I’ll talk more about the gunbarrel at the end of this review.
“It’s time to get out.” (Car chase): I liked the opening scenes where the camera is moving in across the lake. I think that that location is very beautiful. But as soon as the car chase happened, I said to myself, “Uh–oh.” The rapid fast editing and the shaky camera made it almost impossible to watch the car chase. Sadly, there were a lot of cool things going on during that chase (Like when Bond loses his door), but it’s shot so fast that there’s no time to enjoy it. With that being said, I do like the angle of the car being hit by the truck. I actually felt the impact! But all of a sudden, the car chase ends and it’s almost too fast. (Also, as a final thought, the car chase doesn’t really work for me after having seen Casino Royale, because I have no idea where those Quantum members came from.)
Title sequence: Before I talk about the title sequence, I wanted to talk about the “meeting” with Mr. White. I love that line that Bond has when he opens the trunk and says, “It’s time to get out.”
Okay. Now the title sequence was okay for me. I wasn’t mad with MK12’s job, but I really wanted Daniel Kleinman to do the title sequence again. But again, I think that the title sequence is too rushed and that there’s no real time to “look” at these images (Like the girls circling the sun, the gun being “absorbed” by the sand, etc.) And I really like “Another Way To Die.” At first, I hated the song, but it’s really grown on me.
“We have people everywhere.” (Interrogation/Palio): As soon as the titles were over, it was interesting to see the exterior shots of Palio. However, as soon as Bond walks into that room, M is magically standing in the room with him. I thought to myself, where did M come from? If Quantum is a sequel, then she was in England just a matter of hours ago… Then, there came the interrogation scene. It was interesting to get a “tease” about Quantum from Mr. White and how they “have people everywhere.” But, for some odd reason, there’re the shots of Palio during the interrogation. I found that to be distracting and unnecessary. Finally, we learn that Mitchell is a member of Quantum, and again, there’s more of the shaky camera and the quick editing. From what I saw, it looked as though M got shot (maybe it’s just me, though).
But my real problem with Palio is when Bond and Mitchell are running through that crowd. Not only can I still not see what happens, but Mitchell has to shoot some random woman in the crowd. Oh, boy. That scene doesn’t work for me, and it’s just terrible. I hate it when some random person is killed. Not only that, but Bond just runs off and does nothing to help her.
Then, we come to that bell tower and the rooftop chase (with more bad editing) and a quick shot back to that woman that Mitchell killed. I don’t even know why that was added, but it’s very poorly done.
Finally, we come to the bell tower. When Bond comes to the top and looks for Mitchell, I wondered where he was standing. Was he at the very edge on the outside of the tower? Then, when the two of them fell over and into that gallery (or whatever it was) the whole scene just got boring for me. Whereas in Casino Royale (during Parkour, especially) there was a sense of danger in the scene, I didn’t have that reaction here.
Then, when Bond goes back to the interrogation room, Mr. White is gone all of a sudden. I thought, Where did he go? He’s been shot, but somehow he was able to get out of the room?
M’s office: When Bond returns to M’s office, and we see those people in white suits and face masks, I wondered, “What are the CSI people doing in M’s office?” I didn’t know if those were people from Q branch, or who they were.
Then, there’s that whole dialogue about Le Chiffre and Mitchell and Slate. But somehow, Bond is going to Port–au–Prince.
Gray Matter (Slate): When Bond enters into Slate’s hotel room, the inevitable fight occurs. Again, I didn’t feel the danger in the fight (like I did with the stairwell fight in Casino Royale). And again, with the shaky camera and rapid editing, I can’t see what happens or where Slate got hit (arm/leg/neck?).
Camille: Then, for some reason, Bond picks up some kind of briefcase and suddenly (more like magically) meets Camille. She’s an interesting character, but she’s not introduced well. She just “shows up.” And why did she pick up Bond, who she’s never even met before? Did she think that he was the geologist that she called? But how did she know who to look for?
Then, when we see what’s inside the briefcase (a gun and a photo of Camille), I thought “Was Slate supposed to kill her?” I didn’t even know.
But there is one thing in that scene that I did like: how Bond got his motorcycle. That was kind of cool to watch!
“Sitting at the dock of the bay”- Finally, we meet Dominic Greene (Amalric). Now, before I go too far, I want to say this about the actors. I think that the actors did a fine job with their characters, but the characters themselves are poorly written and not fully developed.
Now, back on topic. I understand why the subtitles were used (maybe to make the movie more authentic) but there came a point when it just bothered me. I think that Forster over used those subtitles. Finally, we meet Greene. He’s an interesting character, but he’s not that menacing/evil, and he’s not introduced well, either.
During Camille and Greene’s dialogue scene, for some reason there’s a quick shot of Bond who’s just sitting there waiting. That scene really bothered me because Bond’s not doing anything.
Then, I realize that the plot is explained in a matter of seconds. Arrgh! It just angers me that we learn what the plot is that early. I would have preferred to piece things together, myself, but we get the “Let’s change the Bolivian government,” repeated over and over and over again until I get sick of hearing it. I felt that that line of dialogue between Greene and Medrano was totally unnecessary. With that being said, I do like the idea that Greene is deceiving people into thinking that there’s oil in the desert, when actually it’s water. I kind of like how he plays on the Americans.
“She’s seasick.” (Boat chase): Here’s where things start to go wrong for me. That boat chase completely doesn’t work for me. It feels written in (“Well of course it was written in!) What I mean is, it feels like someone said, “Put a boat chase here and make it work.” Well, it doesn’t work for me. But, as with all of the other action scenes, the chase is edited way too close, and the camera is moving all over the place and I can’t see what’s happening… Plus, on top of that, they dare to add a dialogue scene in the boat chase and suddenly Bond knows who Dominic Greene is…
Plus, at the very end of the chase, that boat moves from the back of Bond’s boat, to the front, and flies over to the other side without any kind of explanation. My last complaint is that Bond went through a lot of trouble to save Camille, but when he reaches land, he just hands her off to some random man. Why did he even bother saving her, if he was just going to leave her there?
“We have no interest in Mr. Greene”– I like the scene where we learn a little more about Dominic Greene, but one question is left in my mind: What’s the connection between Greene Planet and Quantum? Is it a front in order to garner funds for Quantum? Then, however, there’s more plot explanation with Beam and Greene. I found Beam to be very annoying (just listen to his laugh), and we again hear about the coup d’état in Bolivia at least about 3 times. I was thinking “Shut up!”
One other thing that I noticed was Amalric’s eyes. Believe me, there was waaay too much staring going on. I read that Forster only wanted to use his eyes to portray villainy, but it got distracting and kind of funny at times to see Greene’s stares.
“Tosca isn’t for everyone”– One of my favorite scenes in the whole movie is Tosca. I like the scene when Bond listens in on the conversation, and we learn about the whole plot and just how powerful and influential Quantum really is (Guy Haines, for example). The floating stage is beautiful. But all of a sudden, when the Quantum members get up to leave, we see Mr. White at Tosca. How did he get there? Not to mention, he looked perfectly healthy too! Two last things I’d say about Tosca are: What were the men with guns doing on the stage? Are they Quantum members? Actors? I didn’t know. Finally, when Bond escapes from Tosca, that whole scene is littered with scenes from Tosca. Perhaps they have some kind of symbolic meaning, but I found it distracting because they cut away from the action so we could see the play.
“Restrict Bond’s movements”– When M gets the photos from Tosca, I thought, “M has shown up way too many times already.” I do like Dench’s character. I think that she’s great. But they over–used her in this movie. But it was kind of cool to learn that one of these Quantum members is an assistant (?) to the British Prime Minister.
Then, Bond goes to see Mathis. I really liked his character, but they never fully explained why he got a house in Talamone. How did he get a house when he was being tortured a matter of hours ago?
“My name is Fields”: Here’s where the Quantum bashing really begins. I couldn’t stand the character of Fields. I found her to be a useless character, whose only purpose was to sleep with Bond. Again, I think that Arterton did a fine job with her character, but Fields could have been better.
Then, in that taxi, there’re more subtitles. I could tell which one I was supposed to read! Mathis? The taxi driver? Both?
I love it when Bond walks into the Grand Hotel and says “We’re teachers on sabbatical and we’ve just won the lottery.” I love that line!
“You want to go to a party?”– I was listening to the Being James Bond podcast review of Quantum and one of the reviewers asked an interesting question. What do you think the producers’ opinion on environmentalism? He said something like, Greene is an environmentalist, but he’s also the villain. I thought that that would be an interesting topic for discussion.
Then, after the party, we deal with one of the most shocking moments in a Bond movie: the death of Mathis. I was appalled when I saw what happened when Mathis died. Bond just dropped him into the dumpster when two seconds ago, he was talking to him very casually. That was just stupid! Why the dumpster of all places? They could have just set him in the alley, but no. It had to be the dumpster. Plus, I didn’t know what Bond took out of Mathis’ wallet. And all of a sudden, Bond and Camille are driving in the desert. I thought, “Where are they going?” I understand that they went to get a plane, but why? Did that note in Mathis’ wallet tell them where to get a plane?
“He’s coming fast!”–Before the plane chase, we get more plot explanation, with a little foreshadowing about the sinkholes. Then, all of a sudden, the plane is shot by another plane that just shows up out of nowhere. I thought, where did these planes come from? Bond and Camille are in the middle of a desert, and all of a sudden a plane shows up to shoot them down? That is the worst action scene in the whole movie. Plus, there’s more subtitles that just slow down the action, and rapid editing and bad camera work.
Then, we get the CGI parachute jump, which is terrible! I thought, “Isn’t this the reason why they fired Brosnan? For too much CGI?” Plus, that parachute just happens to open up at the very bottom of the pit, and Bond and Camille are perfectly unharmed.
“Bond is running wild”: After the the parachute thing, we come to a very interesting discussion between M and the Foreign secretary about who to trust (He says something about doing deals with villains). I thought, this could be a very interesting concept, and a lot of interesting questions are being raised.
“They’ll do anything for you, won’t they?”–Finally, we come upon a very visually stunning scene: Strawberry Fields covered in oil. I really like that scene as an homage to Goldfinger, but that scene is done too fast and there’s no time to let that image sink in (for the audience to realize just how horrible this Quantum group really is).
But M has a sudden change of mind. One minute she tells Bond that he’s off the case, but then all of a sudden she’s like, “Never mind.” What! She is easily swayed by Bond, apparently.
Perla De Las Dunas–One quick question: Is the hotel owned by Quantum, Greene or Medrano? There’s some dialogue about securing the hotel, but whose hotel is it?
Anyways, I found the end here very boring. Again, there was more rapid fast editing and shaky camera shots. Plus, when Medrano is fighting with Camille, he suddenly speaks to her in Spanish. More unnecessary use of those subtitles made it almost impossible for me to like that scene.
Then, Bond finds Camille and is covering her from the fire. But, was he about to shoot her? I thought, “Wow.” That was really bad.
But I will say this: at the end when Bond confronts Greene in the desert, I initially hated it. But, in retrospect, I kind of like the idea that Bond left him behind in the desert. That was a nice shot of Bond driving away from Greene.
“This man and I have some unfinished business.”–At the end of the movie, when Bond confronts Yusef in Russia, I really liked that scene. I don’t know why, but it was very nice to see that Bond, in a way, got his “revenge.” I also like the shot when Bond throws Vesper’s necklace into the snow. It sort of reminded me of an older edition of the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel where the ring is in the snow. Lastly, the gunbarrel. Please don’t let MK12 ever do the gunbarrel again. They messed up the shape, the color, everything.
So, what’s my rating? Well, it’s certainly not the worst Bond movie ever made. But, if things could have gone slower, maybe I would have liked it more. So, if Casino Royale is a perfect 10, Quantum is a 5. Not good, but not bad either.
Quantum of Solace reviewed by… Safari Suit
If Casino Royale was like a new band arriving to invigorate a flagging music scene, Quantum of Solace is like the all important second album which will determine whether the band becomes an ongoing source of excitement, or ultimately will be remembered as a star which shone brightly but briefly (e.g. Second Coming, Liverpool, Morning Glory, DogManStar etc.). Often these albums are critical successes but commercial flops, or critical and commercial disappointments which may be re-evaluated in the future, but ultimately that is of little importance. Every so often you get an album surpasses everyone’s expectations in all departments, and tells you that the artist is around to say. Quantum of Solace is on that level. The Craig era hasn’t run out of steam, it’s on full steam ahead.
Quantum of Solace is, quite simply, a delight. From it’s short sharp shock of a pre-title sequence, to it’s vaguely psychedelic opening titles, through it’s many twists, turns and exciting stunts, right up to it’s almost poetic final shot (minus the gunbarrel), this is the most purely enjoyable Bond movie in years. Not only that, but this is the tightest, most focused and economical Bond movie since… Licence to Kill?… Live and Let Die?… Goldfinger?!? In a long time anyway. I don’t know where the complaints of humourlessness are coming from, this is a far more genially natured film than Royale, and a few other Bond films too. After the unprecedented level of acclaim thrown at Casino Royale, EON could have taken the franchise down a self-important, fanboyish route, but instead they gave us something better and all the rarer; a truly exciting and invigorating action movie. There has been little to compare with this film in terms of thrills and entertainment; the Bond series is back on the top where it belongs.
Roger Ebert used to talk of the “Bruised Forearm” movie when reviewing films like Temple of Doom, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard 2; films where you would hold on to the arm of your date tightly during intense action scenes in the hope that everything is going to be alright. Quantum of Solace is in that tradition. The action is edited with the rhythm of a heartbeat reacting to heavy sulphate abuse, but the amazing thing is it actually works. You don’t just watch these action scenes passively, you’re right there with Bond. So intense and involving are the action scenes in this film that I was genuinely disoriented when I came out of the cinema. What can I say? I have little time for the modern Bay/Bourne school of shakeycam, but this was some intense action that truly won me over. There is also some variety to the action, with Foster introducing tricks which haven’t been seen in the series before, and giving us an opera scene which recalls DePalma at his mischievous best. Who would have thought he had it in him?
Now, Quantum of Solace probably isn’t for everyone. If the “armour” line in Royale was the highlight of the film for you and you really, really wanted more of that stuff, you may be disappointed. It is more action film than drama, frankly, but the film embraces that fact and so do I.
That is not to say that the film is without depth. The last film was the franchise’s biggest stab at a genuine romance; here the film deals with the morality of killing and the grimness of mortality. The confrontation between Bond and Camille in the caves paints images in the mind which are genuinely chilling. And I have never, ever felt a death in the Bond franchise like I felt one of the deaths in this film. Like one of the characters in the film, I was left wondering “why did this have to happen”.
This film did not draw any quasi-Oscar buzz like Royale did, nor did it ever look like sweeping the BAFTAs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic. Craig is less of an actor in this film, and more of a star. And frankly, I like it that way. He is not only Connery, Moore and Dalton all at once; he is also Marvin, Bronson and Stallone. He is all this and, of course, himself too. Mathieu Amalric is perhaps not one of the most memorable villains of the series, but it is a great performance which at times seems to be channeling, of all people, Klaus Maria Brandauer. Judi Dench has sincerely never been better. And Olga Kurylenko shows a level of talent that certainly wasn’t even hinted at in Hitman. Her character’s relationship with Bond generally feels platonic but heartfelt more than anything; a real sign of development and maturing in this franchise.
In short, Quantum of Solace is a Bond film which can stand proudly not only next to a great variety of Bond films, but to many classics of the genre too. Easily my most enjoyable experience at the cinema last year.
Quantum of Solace reviewed by… tdalton
Quantum of Solace stands alongside Casino Royale as one of the two best films in the James Bond film franchise. It’s a film that manages to be a complete departure from anything that we’ve seen before in the franchise, but also retains enough elements to be immediately recognized as a Bond film.
Where Quantum of Solace really succeeds is in the performance of Daniel Craig as James Bond. Much like in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig carries the picture in a way that we’ve never seen from a Bond actor. Unlike Casino Royale, however, Craig carries the film on his own, as he does not have Eva Green to share the screen with this time around.
Craig continues to infuse the Bond character with new life in this film, and it’s greatly appreciated given how stale the franchise had become in the lead-up to Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace features the best acting job by any of the actors who have portrayed Bond up to this point, and will be a performance that will be remembered for years to come as one of the great Bond performances. Little moments, such as Bond being dressed down by M in a hotel room or Bond watching the last breaths escape the mouth of a man he had just fought with in a hotel room, show that Craig’s Bond is a much different character than anything we’ve seen before. Craig’s Bond is a much darker Bond, and one that is actually believable as a government agent. It’s believable that Craig’s Bond could strike fear into the hearts of his enemies just through his presence, something that has been missing from the films up to this point. His Bond is cold, reckless, and unpredictable, something that is a refreshing change from the usual portrayal of Bond and the “witty” one-liners that used to accompany every scene of this franchise.
Also, much like Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is front-loaded with action. It’s first half is very similar to the first half of Casino Royale in the respect that it’s almost non-stop action. The action in Quantum of Solace, however, works much better than that in Casino Royale because, much like the film, it’s more down to earth than its predecessor. For the first time since The Living Daylights, we’re given a more traditional car chase, and it works very well, and does a great job of opening the film. The other action sequences hold up very well also, with a great foot-chase through Siena, Italy as well as a rousing finale at an eco-friendly hotel.
Quantum of Solace separates itself from the other entries in the series because of its plot structure. On the surface, it would appear as though the film is a straight-forward “go after the bad-guy” setup. The truth is that the film is much more than that, with Bond having ulterior motives that ultimately lead those around him to become distrustful of him. It’s a great dynamic in this film, although it’s one that we’ve seen many times before in recent Bond entries. The reason it works here is because it’s not done as blatantly as what we’re used to. The Bond franchise has made a living off of the “this time, it’s personal” type of film in recent years, but this is the first time that it’s really worked well. When the viewer sees the events unfolding and how they ultimately conclude at the end of the film, it’s a great moment when it becomes evident how intertwined Bond and M’s efforts actually were in the grand scheme of things.
In addition to Daniel Craig, the rest of the cast also perform quite well. Mathieu Amalric’s Dominic Greene is one of the slimiest, creepiest villains in the entire franchise, and is refreshingly devoid of any physical trait that would automatically associate him as being a villain. Gone are the usual trappings of the Bond villains, and in its place is a very believable businessman who could very easily exist in today’s world. That’s what makes Greene all the more effective as a villain, he’s a believable one that a real-life James Bond might actually come across in the field. Amalric makes great use of his screen-time, and his showdown with Bond towards the end of the film is an all-time classic.
Olga Kurylenko stars as the Bond girl Camille this time around. Although a less effective Bond girl than Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, Kurylenko is fantastic in this film, and finally provides the franchise with a believable “Bond equal” after many failed attempts to do so. It was refreshing to see Bond develop a relationship with the lead Bond girl that didn’t revolve around physical attraction. They’re both individuals looking towards a common goal, which comes across very well on screen.
Director Marc Forster also shines with Quantum of Solace, one of the best films to date in an impressive resume of work. He takes the Bond universe in this film and turns it on its head, going even further than Casino Royale did in removing some of the more familiar elements of the franchise, such as Bond’s introductory line. These elements are not missed, and their absence makes the film stronger. The visual style that he provides the film with makes it a very distinct entry in the series, and its one that immediately recalls the early Bond films of the 1960s, as they have a great retro-vibe to them but also remain surprisingly current as well. The action is handled very well also, as its much more interesting than the action that we saw in Casino Royale, and unlike in that film, it also serves to drive the plot forward as well.
Overall, Quantum of Solace is a first-rate Bond film that takes the series in a direction that we haven’t seen before. Daniel Craig, with this film, firmly establishes himself in my mind as the best James Bond of them all, and has the series in the best place its been in several decades. Hopefully the current direction of the franchise continues in the next few films as it’s a very good change of pace from the usual type of Bond film that we’ve seen over and over again for the past 40+ years.
Keep turning to the CommanderBond.net main page—and our brand new Twitter feed—for continued Quantum of Solace coverage.
Devin Zydel @ 2009-05-03