MARC’S REVIEW – Quantum of Solace

A writer’s strike never bodes well for a film. So the 22nd installment in the James Bond franchise, “Quantum Of Solace,” suffered because of it. Daniel Craig returns in his second film as Bond which begins as a direct sequel to the my favorite film in the series, “Casino Royale.” Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland”) directs, but not very well.

Much of the action scenes are very shaky and choppy. Forster seems to have adopted Paul Greengrass’ technique that works so effectively in the Jason Bourne films and “United 93.” However, Forster does not make clear what is occurring. You can’t recreate Picasso with crayons. The opening is a rush job of a car chase as Bond races away from enemies in his Aston Martin. Machine guns and heavy traffic and construction sites make way for his car to gradually fall apart but it’s hard to really see how the car becomes damaged in the first place. Just when exactly did the driver’s side door come off? There’s lots of spinning out of control and dirt flying with bombastic gun fire and engine revving. It’s all sensory overload to hide the preciseness in the car chase.

Later, Bond is attempting to rescue the girl Camille (boring name, boring girl) played by Olga Kurylenko when she’s held captive on a boat. He jumps into a motor boat and the chase is on. Bond fends off the bad guy by tossing a rope with a hook on it. Just tossing it up. Suddenly the bad guy’s boat flips over. What exactly happened here? How did the rope take out that boat? I didn’t see the connection. Film is visual. So show me the fundamentals from A to Z, please.

The story involves Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric) who appears to be an environmentalist with interest in a pipeline in Bolivia. (Bolivia????) At first Bond is under the impression this pipeline must be for oil. Later, it’s realized that Greene intends to charge the country enormous prices as he takes over the water supply. (“Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” did this all much, much better.). In exchange, Greene will assist a tyrannical Bolivian General in becoming President. This General raped and murdered Camille’s family. Naturally, she wants revenge. As Bond pursues Greene, he comes to learn that Greene is a member of a secret organization called Quantum. Hence the strange title.

Bond follows through with this assignment while trying to determine why his past love (Vesper Lynd from “Casino Royale”) was murdered and after MI6 is infiltrated.

The story is kind of all over the place. It has a lot of interesting threads like Bond’s need for revenge, Camille’s need for revenge and a secret organization that MI6, nor the CIA, were ever aware of. Threads remain as threads though if a writer’s strike interferes.

The story for “Quantum Of Solace” hardly gets fleshed out. We learn nothing of the organization, Quantum. When Bond finishes his mission with Camille, she just gets out of the car and walks away into the middle of nowhere. Where is she going exactly? The climactic battle takes place in a luxury hotel located in the middle of the desert. Unless this is Las Vegas, who goes to a hotel in the middle of the desert? I mean like ever?????

The film is a tremendous disappointment after the creatively artistic success of “Casino Royale.” Often sequels do not live up to their predecessors, but “Quantum” goes really off the rails. This film was a make up as you go.

Craig is fine in the role of Bond; consistent with his first film. Almaric is okay as the villain, but never given much to do. A second woman comes into play, named Fields played by Gemma Arterton, assigned by M to bring Bond out of service. She seems to have a personality that the Camille character lacks but she’s hardly given much screen time, save for a nightcap with Bond and later an image that harkens back to “Goldfinger.”

Jeffrey Wright (a great Felix Leighter, that I have not talked about yet) is belabored to share scenes with an obnoxious CIA partner played David Harbour. These two guys seem to be acting in a different movie.

Marc Forster was given a tool box but didn’t know which end of the hammer to hold with “Quantum Of Solace.” There are too many things wrong with this film to justify any merits it may have.

Maybe the most interesting moment happens in the epilogue scene as we learn more about Vesper’s past. The scene has next to no relevance with much of the main story at beforehand. But why couldn’t this film simply stay on this trajectory from the beginning? This is a thread worth pulling on and then tying off.

In other words, Vesper Lynd is far more interesting than the water supply in…ahem…Bolivia. 😕

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