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Quantum of Solace (2008)
A short, sharp, sombre thriller.
The Brocollis have produced another thrilling adventure. This time it's personal. With the film picking up just where the last one left off, it makes no apologies for people who haven't seen Casino Royale, as you are thrusting us into a close-quarters ride with a beginning destructive car chase filmed fast and frenetic. The story continues with Bond trying to find out the organisation the captured Mr White is working for. Which in-turn proves Bond doesn't know who to trust, as another MI6 agent is behind it also, which prevails into pulsing foot chase, from the sewer tunnels of Sienna, Italy to the rooftops ending with a spectacular fight entwining on the ropes of a construction site. This film moves like a bullet (with Bond doing more globe trotting and faster than any other picture) - upon second viewing the story was much more easier to grasp, but if you haven't even seen the first film, you'll be struggling slightly (but then again how could you have not seen CR). Where with Casino Royale is more of an epic that established the groundwork and story of Bond, this allows Quantum to go all out as well as extending the story as a short, taut, sharp thriller. While majority a critics and Bond fans even, have bashed this film for some reasons I can understand, it still holds up as a great addition to the franchise. Marc Forster is a very artistic and unconventional director that infuses some artsy font captions, scene transitions and music (especially the opera sequence, highlighting the opera's music with some action) makes it very interesting and different for the Bond picture, and shows this is a very different film to CR - being more dark and bleak. Daniel Craig is great again, and can say he is definitely the best bond, playing multi-layers of his character - keeping his emotions in-check while pursuing Quantum. One scene in particular shows a different side to Bond, with Bond and Mathis on a plane to Bolivia, in which they share private moment of understanding from one another, while Bond drink 6 martinis suppressing his emotions for Vesper. Olga Kurylenko is a great bond girl; very strong woman out for the revenge for her parent's death. Both Bond and her create a strong team to bring down the main villain. People have complained the main villain, Dominic Greene is not a superior match for Bond - some even commenting on no threatening features to hold over bond. But this is what the whole reinvention was about. People have still seemed to have missed the point after the success of CR. This is meant to a realistic depiction of the Bond world. Mathieu Amalric plays the villain as a very smarmy and calculated bastard. With this film there is no Bond and villain casual-friendly rapport between them before they try ultimately to kill one another. They instantly know each others motivations, and are not shy about their feelings toward each other, which allows Greene to give Bond a verbal beat-down at one point. The story and characters are very cut-to-the-chase, as well as the editing, but never allowing the film to feel short. It feels an acceptable length. Although there is double the action (with about 3 chase scenes in the first 30 minutes), it doesn't affect the story and dialogue scenes, as the action does have motivations and consequences resulting into the next scene. The plane dogfight sequence stands out for me, as a very impressive action sequence with Bond and Camille being shot from another plane while they're in an unarmed one. This sequence very much subtly shows this Bond does rely of his wits and physical prowess; to which I'm glad to see no dodgy gadgets. A few scenes do pay homage to the previous outings, with the demise on one character that directly taken from Goldfinger. Also, Bond's emotions get the better of him, making him out of control character, in which he shortly goes rogue. I find this idea interesting, much what they did with Licence To Kill, as Ian Fleming's Bond is very much his own man, and Bond is a figure to challenge authority, and I respect that move. Much anticipation was on this film after Martin Campbell relaunched Bond again with Goldeneye his first and CR his second, luckily QoS didn't fall into a Tomorrow Never Dies affair, but more of a For Your Eyes Only & Licence To Kill crossover, which is not a bad thing. My only criticisms, is the title sequence could have been better and more inventive, but the song has kind of grown on me, but it is not particularly a catchy or memorable tune. My other is Mathis returning to help Bond, which doesn't sit right, though the scenes is brilliantly acted, but felt like a story re-write so they could get Giannini to return. Though it is nice to see most of the cast return from the last one, as you accustomed to the characters. The end is very fitting, rounding off the Vesper storyline and Bond getting his 'quantum of solace', allowing the return of the traditional gunbarrel to proceed, signifying the making of Bond. This is definitely a wink to the audience that there will be a return to form in the next one with the traditional opening and bond theme tune - just hopefully no silly gadgets (which this didn't have), but I do agree with critics that Bond should enjoy himself a bit more next time now that he has closure. David Arnold's score is punchy and much more aggressive compared to CR's majestic and operatic score, which suits the tone and style of the film. It was always going to be hard to top CR, but QoS made a right move, keep it more solid and taut. I have feeling this film won't be as much as remembered as CR, but it is a sufficient follow up, and my trepidation has subsided.