James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organisation from eliminating a country's most valuable resource.James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organisation from eliminating a country's most valuable resource.James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organisation from eliminating a country's most valuable resource.
Does "Quantum of Solace" deliver? Well, honestly, the answer to that depends almost entirely on what you were expecting. If you were expecting a lengthy, down-to-earth, 'realistic' ('plausible' is probably a better description for "Casino Royale") character-based revenge flick, "Quantum of Solace" is not it. What "Quantum of Solace" does is weave the characterization into the plot and action to the point where we don't have room to breathe. The criticisms against the movie for lacking in character development are downright absurd- it's all there, the movie just doesn't stop and explicitly tell you what it's doing. If you're paying attention to what Bond's doing throughout the film surely you will understand why he is motivated to do those things. It's pretty careful and refined writing from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (with the addition of script polisher/editor Paul Haggis).
What "Quantum of Solace" doesn't do is deliver a repeat of "Casino Royale". I'm actually quite amazed at the venomous reaction to the film by fans who seem to adore the more humorous, faster-moving Bond films. I mean, this isn't exactly right up their alley, but it's sure as hell not as drawn-out and slow-moving (although I didn't feel that was a bad thing in CR's case) as "Casino Royale", it surely doesn't spend most of its time on the dialogue and characterization, and it surely isn't as significantly divergent from the Bond formula as that film was. This is, ultimately, not unlike several Bond films we've seen before. There's snarling foreign villains with accents, a shadowy evil organization with political motivations, there's plenty, plenty of action. The "Bourne" comparisons are especially confounding. So, because Robert Ludlum once took from the Bond character and stories to write his "Bourne" novels, the Bond film series can't go back to Bond's roots in Fleming's great novels for inspiration? I'd say that "Quantum" has more in common with Bond films of the past than any of the Bourne films. If they're talking about the action scenes here, then while they lack the coherence of some of the greatest action scenes in Bond history, they are still much easier to follow than anything in Greengrass' "Bourne" films. Outside the first 15 minutes there's barely anything here that resembles a Bourne film at all, actually. The first two action scenes- the car chase and foot chase- are over-edited for sure, but the rest of the action scenes are grand, particularly the plane scene and climactic action scene at the hotel.
The technical aspects of the film are all good, director Marc Forster doesn't mess up (which, given the quality of many of his previous films, was perhaps the greatest danger this Bond installment faced) the David Arnold score is not one of the great Bond scores, and his (or the producers') refusal to use an orchestral version of the score much during the actual film is quite frustrating, but it's quite good and certainly not among the worst scores the series has had. Craig is an absolutely superb Bond, Olga Kurylenko is a find Bond girl and fairly well-developed but not at the expense of Bond or the story, while Gemma Arterton's limited screen time is an unnecessary diversion. Arterton's not the only flaw here, the design is a bit naff at times, and there's several things that could have been done better, especially during the first 15 minutes, but the movie works as a whole, and it's not nearly as humorless as some are suggesting; there's some genuinely funny stuff here, without descending into over-the-top camp. Actually, "Quantum of Solace" sees a welcome return of a deadpan delivery to the one-liners which evokes Connery's best moments. No winking at the camera, no raised eyebrows, just the jokes. Felix grabbing a beer and looking nonchalant as the SWAT team tried and failed to capture Bond, Bond stealing the bike from under the informant ("I missed!"), Bond and M at the hotel... So many great moments.
"Quantum of Solace" is perhaps not one of the great Bond films, and while I would not like to see "Quantum of Solace" become the template which the Bond series will follow in the future (it is only completely satisfying when taken in context as part of a larger storyline), it is still not just a good action thriller, but an often gloriously enjoyable Bond film, and a fine entry in the series.
- Nov 12, 2008