Quantum of Solace
Reviewed by Rick Klaw, © 2008
Directed by Marc Forester
||November 13, 2008
6/10 (What Is This?)
With the exception of Sean Connery's excellent 1963 From Russia With Love, James Bond actors have not fared well in their second outings. Roger Moore's 1973 debut as the famous spy in Live and Let Die exploded off the screen, falsely suggesting that a post-Connery Bond could be as exciting and interesting. Even the presence of the legendary Christopher Lee failed to salvage the critically-panned, financially disastrous 1974 follow up The Man With the Golden Gun. Some of Moore's later efforts such as Moonraker and A View To a Kill further demonstrated his inferiority to Connery and helped to elevate the weak Golden Gun's standing.
Timothy Dalton assumed the mantle in 1987's The Living Daylights, the grittiest, most faithful Bond interpretation since Connery's From Russia With Love. His next (and last) Bond film, the unmemorable License to Kill (1989), fell flat.
After a six year hiatus, the longest break since the series inception in 1962, James Bond returned with a new star (Pierce Brosnan) and for the first time in five films, a new director (Martin Campbell) with Goldeneye. The first Bond not derived from an original Ian Fleming story, the movie successfully modernized the venerable property while offering superior action and suspense. Sadly, Brosnan never returned anywhere close to this initial success with any of the next three Bond features, each worse than the other.
Campbell, who only directed the first Bronson, revisited the character for Daniel Craig's Bond debut in the 2006 film version of Fleming's first novel Casino Royale. One of the franchise's finest installments, the movie related the tale of the expertly-portrayed young Bond earning his 00 status and his subsequent mission in a realistic, exciting manner. Campbell successfully incorporated and jettisoned various elements from the previous 20 films, while remaining surprisingly faithful to the picture's source material. Craig's superior Bond hearkened back to the dark, less humorous visage of Fleming's novels.
Craig returns for his second go, sans Campbell, as the world's most famous spy in Quantum of Solace, a direct sequel to the previous movie. Sadly, like his predecessors, Craig failed to shake the sophomore doldrums.
In the midst of careening cars on the streets of Siena, Italy, Quantum picks up soon after the conclusion of Royale as Bond begins his quest to avenge Vesper's death. Following the opening credits, director Marc Forester attempts to recapture the excitement of the previous film's frenetic, parkour chase, but fails miserably. This sequence typifies a flaw throughout. By using too many closeups and jerky camera angles, the scenes become murky and indecipherable. The usually reliable Forester, who helmed the under-appreciated Stranger Than Fiction, makes his first stab at an action film.
During an opera, Bond uncovers Quantum, a secret global organization bent on -- what else? -- world domination. Forester manages to detract from the movie's best scene with more senseless action and overly dramatic music interspersed with slow motion fights and gunfire.
One of the many secrets of a great Bond film, the banter between Bond and the villain du jour, is sorely lacking in Quantum of Solace. The talk between 007 and the bad guy lasts all of a not terribly interesting ten minutes as opposed to the fascinating and lengthy mental gymnastics during the Casino Royale poker game.
While not a terrible movie, the forgettable Quantum of Solace offers a mediocre addition to the Bond mythos, along similar quality lines to Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies. Even with Daniel Craig's quality acting, the film pales on every level to its predecessor, making it easily the most disappointing movie of the year.
|RevSF Editor-at-large Rick Klaw writes the RevSF blog Geek Curmudgeon. He saw his first Bond film at eight years old and read all the books by the time he was 14. Klaw's obsessed mother named his younger sister Tracy, after James Bond's late wife from In Her Majesty's Secret Service.|
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OK. Perhaps my last comments were really a review of Casino not having seen QoS. Now I have seen it and there are so many problems with it I do not know where to begin. All the chases are herkey, jerky, shaky stuccato film clips. You can never really see what is going on. This is contrary to the taditional Bond flick replete with detail. And if Craig is gritty, moody, mean & vindictive one can still see a path by which he becomes a cooler if not cold uber-professional agent with a dry, sardonic sense of humor. This Bond clearly appeals to a feminine perspective that escapes me. I understood him not becoming 'involved' with the other women in the 2 flicks as having high standards and was at least relieved to see his response to Fields as, what we would term a normal orientation! (The women seem to love that Bond does NOT 'hook up' with the main girl). Even the opening chase, usually one of the best, is almost visually incomprehensible. Car chase, rooftop chase, sewer chase, apartment knife fight, certainly they were purloined from the Bourne genre but somehow Bourne's were more believable.
The opening graphics were not as bad as I feared, but were definitely not 007 quality. Far too much of Craig shooting his Walther PPK .380; (don't make me go into why that is a problem). We have grown accustomed to the sultry, sexual/sensual and awesome graphical intro to the Bond films. This one was not of the same caliber. Ditto on the theme song. I was fearing worse and it was actually passable relating somewhat to the general theme of the film. The barrel scene was placed at the end of the film. I prefer the beginning but in either case it should be presented with high quality graphics and punctuated with 007 theme song riffs. It was not.
Lots of chases. Most are barely watchable. I actually liked the reference to the traditional 13th century Italian Palio horse race in which the riders can use their longer wooden canes to encourage their steeds or discourage their oponents; and the actual event was supposed to be occuring outside of the chase area.
The knife fight was lame. How did the baddie die anyhow? Please tell me not with the little pair of cuticle scissors Bond had. And if the death blow was to the only wounded area shown, the left jugular, where did all the blood go as Bond let him 'bleed out'. Not worry the details because we are soon introduced to THE BOND GIRL. Well, a little anti-climatic because she is not quite as attractive as we are used to although she has very pretty lips. The rest of her seems strangely disporportionate for some reason. It's also strange that she would return to the baddie who just tried to have her whacked. That has little probability for success for someone who we later learn is "Bolivian Secret Service". Oh well, not to worry, we are off on another chase, this time with boats. It is perhaps the best done but for the last scene in which the grappling hook is somehow thrown onto the rubber speed boat and flips it from the front of Bond's boat over the top to the rear...... can't quite figure the physics out on that one. Not to worry, we've docked and Bond mysteriously hands the unconscious maiden who he has just rescued over to a dock attendent...what?
Well were off to track this baddie and somehow reconnected with the GIRL in Bolvia where we eventually learn that the baddie, Mr. Greene of the evil Greene corporation in conjunction with the even eviler Quantum Criminal Consortiuum LLC has concocted a plot wreaking with the venom of true corporate greed, evil captialism and nefarious financier-ship; to wit, steal all the fresh water in where? Why Bolivia of course and sell it back to them Bolivans at double the price! MUAHHAHAHAHAHA (evil laugh). We learn at a big party that times are tough in Bolvia because it is costing a weeks wages for an average Bolvian to buy a gallon of clean water! As I remember, the average Bolvian earns about $0.25 per day making the water cost about $1.75 a gallon; pretty much on par with market values in Cleveland. Perhaps this is not the best country for our get richer quicker scheme.
No matter, we are off to the evil opera where the evil baddies are meeting to plan, well, evil. This is where we reference a modernistic version of the Tosca operatic bloodshed whilst Bond dabbles in the real thing dispatching the body guards of the evil biggies who, now discovered, are making a hasty retreat for the exits faster than attendees at an Al Gore speech.
No matter, while in Bolivia we are matroned by the closest thing to a real Bond girl, agent Fields. Unfortunately we never really figure out what is beneath that trenchcoat although it appears that Bond does. Also unfortunately for Fields and us, she is quickly eliminated by the baddies in what can only be termed as a 'crude' theft of the Goldfinger movie. I would have expected more of a mess but why waste camera time on the slickened Fields when you can spend it on bathroom scenes with....who else....M. Perhaps the most difficult what seemed like 15 minutes of the film was watching M in her bathrobe apply & remove cold creme. The threat itself would have sent Mr. Greene into pro bono philanthropy. Not finished with us yet, M draws her bath and the tension in the theater built noticably as we all began to fear that we would be greeted with an au natural scene of her slipping out of the robe into the tub. Fortunately we were spared that experience (wait for the unedited version coming to DVD soon!). However, it just calls into question what fob with a mommy complex of some sort is calling the shots in these films.
M continues to demostrate why she should not be "M" vacillating from suspecting Bond to needing him back in 00 some 4-5 times during the movie. We did get a glimpse into the possible personality of M's hubby when he meekly announced, "the calls for you dear on your private line". Whatever.
M may welcome Bond back with open arms or have him captured or killed, no matter, the BOND GIRL is rescuing Bond in her getaway car, a 1964 VW Beetle. I guess the Bolivian Secret Service does not get to roll like the 00's in MI6. At least it was a 40HP!
No matter. We are now off to a hotel in the middle of a high plains Bolvian desert. Time to charter a plane...no, not the little Beachcraft Bonanza. Choose the DC-3 with a load of cargo on board. Watch out though, you'll get shot down by the Bolvian Air Force in a single engine Cessna. I guess the BAF doesn't get to roll like the 00's at MI6 either.
No matter because we are both jumping out of this crate with the only parachute. Somehow everything turns out ok because the chute opens about 20 feet off of our LZ, a nice big soft slab of granite.
Its off the the hotel to find the baddies. The hotel, located in the high plains desert of Bolvia, is called the Plaza del Sol. It is completely self-sufficient and powered by...solar....no you idiot, hydrogen fuel cells. In fact, each room appears to have its own hydrogen fuel cell and its accompanying hydrogen supply tank. The maids must make your bed and refill your hydrogen tank when they replace the shampoo in the bath, I guess. Naturally the hotel, located in the high plains Bolvian desert is made substantially of steel & stone. Unfortunately, the steel & stone in Bolvia is not quite as durable as the steel & stone you and I have grown to love as we discover when Bond causes a baddie car to crash through a wall igniting a hydrogen tank. The rest of the hydrogen tanks ignite sequentially. Darn it, I hate when that happens, you just can't get good hydrogen tanks anymore. Again, unfortunately, the Bolvian steel & stone burns more like paper mache. Bond battles the Greene baddie but aborts to rescue the BOND GIRL who is caught up in her own subplot vendetta too trite to be explained here.
You would be better off waiting for this to hit DVD. At least then you can slo-mo or replay the chase scenes making sense of them, spend more time with the slick Agent Fields and most importantly, FFW or skip over M's bathroom escapades. You have been warned.
-- s, 1:38 PM, December 08, 2008
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-- 111, 8:18 PM, December 01, 2008
I read an article about the preview, where Tom Cruise got laughed at when his preview of his movie came on. In the movie Cruise wears an eye patch. http://www.observer.com/2008/o2/quantum-solace-offers-peek-2009-watch-out-tom-cruise
-- vladg, 11:42 AM, November 14, 2008
It was the releasing hot day for New bond movie I heard. Wow it was going to be hot mad action I personally think that change of bond Is needed, happy to see different face. Ideal week end movie I should say. Are you still to see what you think of it? In http://www.80millionmoviesfree.com I seen and it will sure out play many movies to come near by.
-- certinora, 4:05 AM, November 14, 2008