Quantum of Solace, 2008.
Directed by Marc Foster.
Starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench, and Gemma Arterton.
James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organisation from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource.
Though the James Bond series is over 20 films long, it is very rare any of them contain continuity references to the previous films. It is rarer still for a Bond film to follow-up on a previous film. This makes Quantum of Solace unique in the franchise as it is a direct sequel to Casino Royale.
Following Bond’s capture of Mr. White, Bond takes it upon himself to discover and dismantle Quantum, the mysterious organization behind Le Chiffre’s operation and Vesper’s betrayal and suicide. This leads him to Dominic Greene, an influential environmental activist who also happens to be one of Quantum’s top leaders. Bond’s quest, however, puts him at odds with M as she believes his drive for revenge is interfering with his better judgment.
While Quantum is an adequate Bond film, it has several problems that hinders ones enjoyment of the film. First off, its plot is rather convoluted. You don’t really get a sense of what it is Greene and Quantum are after until well into the movie, and even then its explanation is rather quick. It’s also got a lot of moving pieces as so many characters have different goals: there’s Bond, Camille, the CIA, MI6 and Quantum. All have different motivations, yet very few of them mesh well together. This can be in part due to the grounded realism of office politics, but it’s still rather tough to follow.
Speaking of tough to follow, the next problem is the action scenes. They’re edited with very quick cuts and oftentimes shaky-cam. I like to say the film suffers from The Bourne Envy, emulating the editing styles of The Bourne Identity and its sequels. It’s so hard to tell what’s going on in the action scenes, particularly during any vehicular chase (which Bond gets in several), that viewers will spend more time trying to figure out whose who instead of enjoying the scenes. That said, the scene of Bond at and his escape from the opera might be the best scene in the film.
One of the few positives is Daniel Craig once again does well with the role of 007, continuing Bond’s emotional evolution as he simultaneously hates and grieves for Vesper. Much like Licence to Kill, Bond’s fairly single-minded in his need for revenge and has to weigh that against the cost of the mission. His chemistry with Judi Dench’s stern M grows here as their respective character’s relationship deepens. Yet despite being emotionally vulnerable, Craig’s Bond is still very cold in his ruthlessness, shown as he deposits his friend’s body in a dumpster and later avenges his death.
What also works is Bond’s partnership with Camille, a Bolivian agent on her own revenge mission against a general who killed her family. What makes this relationship work so well is the fact that it is not a romantic one, making Camille one of the few Bond girls he doesn’t sleep with. Olga Kurylenko does a fine job with the role, even if her chemistry with Craig isn’t as great as Eva Green’s was.
Mathieu Amalric makes a decent villain as Greene. Viewers will definitely want to see him get smacked down after many of the things he says and does, but he’s also a rather forgettable and underdeveloped villain. Likewise for Gemma Arterton’s Strawberry Fields (though her first name is never said in the film interestingly), who is rather wasted in the role of the secondary Bond girl, never doing much except for falling very quickly for Bond and being used as a tool to further his revenge.
The last major problem with the film is the mystery around Quantum. The group is built up as a severe and dangerous threat, a replacement for SPECTRE as production did not regain the rights back to the evil organization at this time, yet when it comes to answers regarding Quantum the film abruptly doesn’t give any. It ends with Greene telling Bond he’s told him everything he knows, but none of the information is relayed to the viewer, making it a bit of a copout. Don’t be surprised if Spectre somehow retcons Quantum’s significance. Overall, Quantum of Solace is a decent Bond film, but one that doesn’t deliver on Casino Royale’s promise.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★