Mini-Review Monday: Quantum of Solace

Quantum Of SolaceRelease: October 31, 2012

Story: James Bond (Daniel Craig) is still reeling from a terrible loss he experienced in Casino Royale. While he says he’s not, Bond is out for revenge. Standing in his way is a dastardly organization, Quantum, that claims to have people everywhere, even MI-6. Dominic Greene (played by Mathieu Amalria) is a lead member of Quantum, posing as a rich businessman supporting environmental issues. His job for Quantum is to gain control of Bolivia’s water supply, because controlling water equals controlling people. With Bond’s rage growing every minute, M (Judi Dench) is having a heck of a time keeping him in check long enough to complete his mission. Thankfully, Bond is getting help from Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a Bolivian agent on her own personal vendetta, and two characters from Casino Royale – CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright) and René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini).

Thoughts: An advantage of a long plane ride is, even in coach, you can watch free movies. On my way to and from Europe this month, I had a chance to see a few. Some were films I was revisiting. Others new discoveries. One of the latter was Daniel Craig’s second James Bond flick, 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

I had seen Craig’s first and third outing as the man with a license to kill. His first, Casino Royale (2006), was fantastic. It was a bit long near the end but it’s a tense, masterly constructed, action packed Bond film. Skyfall (2012) I’m less sure about. It certainly has the best opening title sequence (visually anyway) of any of the Bond movies I’ve seen. It’s undoubtedly a good movie, too, even if it may not be my favorite.

Quantum of Solace misses almost every mark. Whereas his other two Bond movies had great stories to go with great action, Solace’s story is often incoherent and its action underwhelming. In fact, if there’s one word you should take from this review, it’s underwhelming. The movie finished and I thought, that’s it?

This was the first Bond film to ever be a direct sequel to its predecessor and to continue the story of the last film. I love that. It was a great opportunity to do something never before done in the Bond franchise. I think the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike doomed that idea. I’ve read that the story didn’t become a direct sequel until after the strike and Craig and director Marc Foster made rewrites on the script. Their method of making this a direct sequel was mostly lousy. We see the return of old characters from Casino Royale, but they seem written in just to write them in and give us the illusion of a continuing story when one doesn’t really exist except for at a few junctures. The film starts out as a continuation but quickly mutters off in another unintelligible direction. Quantum is hardly even explored after being so hyped in the beginning minutes of the movie (and it’s doubtful we’ll see much expansion on the organization with the newest film set to see the return of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.). To give credit where credit is due, Bond’s grief for his recent loss is effective and Craig does a wonderful job bringing it to the surface periodically throughout the film. Meanwhile, we get a horrible mishmash of action scenes where the movie throws not just the kitchen sink at us but the whole kitchen in a desperate attempt to get something to stick.

That’s what this film is, sadly. A director, a group of actors, and some writers mixing everything they can think of into a blender hoping the dull concoction will  please someone. If you haven’t seen Quantum, I would give it a pass and watch Royale and ride out its high right on into Skyfall.

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