Tuesday, May 1, 2012

007: Quantum of Solace (2008) Review

Quantum of Solace
Lots of shaking, little stirring
There are certain things one expects when viewing a Bond movie. There are the beautiful women, the megalomaniacal villain, the exotic locations, the breathtaking action scenes, the suave wit, and the fun of being a super spy. Quantum has most of those qualities but subdues the last two this time due to the loss of his love, Vesper Lynd, from Casino Royale. Bond is now an emotional wreck, and has too much on his mind to waste time. While that does hamper some of the enjoyment of the film, Quantum has a few tricks up its sleeve that help to keep it a very entertaining action movie.

Plot Synopsis: Picking up a little after the end of Casino Royale, we find Bond searching for the organization that forced Vesper to betray him and kill herself. Mr. White, a character from Casino that was kidnapped by Bond, is brought in for questioning and talks about the organization, called Quantum, which has seemingly never been heard of before. As Bond gains more information about Quantum, the clues eventually lead to an environmentalist, Dominic Greene, who has his sights set on Bolivia. By buying a huge amount of desert, Greene plans on cornering the countries water supply in the underground reservoirs so that Quantum can use it for various bribing deals. Along the way Bond meets Camille, a Bolivian secret service agent using Greene as a means to get to the man who killed her family.


First things first; as you have no doubt heard, Quantum of Solace is both the shortest and most action packed Bond film made. In fact there’s probably too much action, especially in the first half which barely gives any time to catch your breath. That aside, the action scenes are incredibly intense and visceral, which comes as a surprise since director Marc Forster has a history of doing small scale dramas. Forster even adds a few of his own visual touches to add to a scene. A couple of theses examples, such as the shadowy movement of Bonds car leading to a chase and having an opera intercut with a shootout without sound, really enhance the mood of the scenes and make them more interesting. The Bourne-esque fast editing technique does get tiresome in some scenes, such as the opening car chase, but for the most part it fits well with the rough edged grittiness of the films tone.


If Daniel Craig wasn’t so damned good as Bond then I would’ve given Quantum an average rating, but thankfully he puts on an intense show and makes Bond’s evolution much more understandable than what the script shows. We think that he’s making his mission into more of a revenge vendetta, but maybe he has actually learned from his mistakes from Casino and just merely wants some clear answers. This ambiguity makes Bond a more interesting character than before, and there are some bits thrown in that hint that he’s becoming more like the suave womanizer of years past. Camille, as played by Olga Kurylenko, is more than just your typical, disposable Bond girl. Like Bond she’s on a vendetta too, and the film has them forming more of an empathetic and friendly, rather than sexual, relationship. In the end, she gets something most Bond girls don’t get from Bond, and that’s respect. Mathieu Amalric, who plays Greene, proves to be just as menacing a villain as Le Chiffre was in Casino. But underneath those bug eyes, he likes to toy with Bond’s emotions sometimes, which makes him such a slimy bad guy we love to hate.

Playing more like a “Casino Royale Volume 2” than a standalone entry, Quantum of Solace satisfyingly puts an end to Bond’s fixation on Vesper. If Casino was the exciting beginning and slow middle of the story, then Quantum is the balls-to-the-wall action climax. It definitely could have been much better and had more plot, but that doesn’t mean that what’s here isn’t a well done or vastly entertaining movie. Let’s hope that the next one follows up on this film, hinting that Bond has now become the agent that we used to know and love.

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