Over its almost 50 year-long history, the James Bond franchise has gone through several revisions in order to adapt to the times. Perhaps the biggest revision was 2006’s Casino Royale, which could essentially be considered a “reboot”. It was controversial for audiences accustomed to the handsome dark-haired hero, stubbornly set in his ways as much as the producers who mindlessly followed the same formula for 40 years. Casino Royale proved that the series could still be relevant and that casting aside many of the series’ hallmarks was a good idea afterall, something that was all but frowned upon during original producer Albert Brocolli’s reign. Of course, you know that Hollywood rarely follows a good movie with another; so the question became would the sequel follow in Casino Royale’s footsteps trailblazing in a new direction, or would it play conservative by falling back on old traditions?
Curiously, Quantum of Solace is a little of both. Like Casino Royale, it feels gritty, as characters are actually portraited as human beings rather than flawless robots. James Bond is still growing into his job, rather than lounging around in it as Sean Connery did. On the other hand, Quantum of Solace feels similar to a Rodger Moore-era bond, without all the silly humor and offensive stereotypes. The film itself is shorter, to-the-point, with intense action scenes driving the story more than any real plot or character interest like in Casino Royale. Also, there is a return of the recognizable evil side, with henchmen and lackies that Casino Royale went without. Finally, Quantum of Solace does show a little originality by first-time-action-director Marc Forster, who makes the movie feel like a real spy thriller rather than another James bond movie with music-video-like edited action sequences, stylized locale titles, and a traditional opening title sequence without Bond’s trademark gun barrel. The result though is not a movie that is nearly as memorable or timeless as Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace’s purpose is to wrap up the loose ends of Casino Royale, and while it accomplishes this task, it does not have enough depth or originality to carry itself alone.
Synopsis: Eager to find the man responsible for making his beloved Vesper betray him, James Bond finds himself in another tangled mess of terrorists, double agents, and uncompromising superiors when his only lead escapes due to a terrorist agent infiltrated deeply into MI6. Now, more bent on revenge than ever, Bond ignores his orders and tries to straighten out the mess by himself. He is led to Greene, a wealthy buisinessman who appears benign, but later unveils a secret plan that Bond comes to realize is more important than his own personal vandetta. Now, joining forces with a fellow spy bent on a plan or revenge herself, Bond puts his resourcefulness to the test as he attempts to foil Greene and come to understand the importance of loyalty….
Acting: Good (22/25)
- Daniel Craig as James Bond: Great – Craig continues to evolve the character, showcasing grit and muscle more than wit and charm like his predecessors. People might complain that James Bond is evolving into just another thug with a gun without his trademarks, but I say that its time for a character with real emotions.
- Judi Dench as M: Great – Dench is again fantastic as M, with a continuing animostity towards Craig’s character carried over from the last film. A truely legendary actress that fits the role perfectly.
- Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene: Okay – Amalric is neither intimidating nor seemingly very intelligent in this role, I blame poor writing.
- Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes: Good – Thankfully her character is not just for eye candy as other past bond girls had been, but she may have played the empathy card too much.
- Supporting Cast: Okay – Greene’s henchmen are just as dumb and watered down as in previous bond outings and the baddies don’t really seem that bad. The only actors that do well are the ones carried over from Casino Royale.
Script/Plot: Okay (19/25)
- Dialogue: Great – The exchanges between characters, while short and brief, inject emotion and fire into an otherwise emotionally devoid piece.
- Script: Good – While entertaining at times, the script never seems to elevate the movie beyond ho-hum action piece.
- Plot: Okay – The story is delivered to the audience quickly, as if expecting everyone to understand what happened in Casino Royale in detail. It then gives little to no time to get familiar with what is happening before a twist or action sequence sends you back to scratching your head. In other words, watch this one twice if you really care about what is happening.
- Themes/Messages: Good – The main one here is loyalty to self vs. loyalty to others, also the story is focused on revenge. It would be nice to get a little more in this department, but the movie is rather brief and the focus is on the action.
Direction: Okay (15/25)
- Professionalism: Good – Marc Forster does well making the movie feel like a spy movie, but it feels like a Jason Bourne movie more than a Bond movie. It is missing some of the class that veteran director Martin Cambell brought to Casino Royale.
- Flow: Okay – The movie definately moves forward, perhaps a little too fast. Just slowing the pacing of the movie down slightly would have done wonders.
- Editing: Bad – The action sequences are so choppy that it is difficult to really enjoy them. I had to watch the opening car chase sequence twice before I understood what made it so dangerous that it cost the life of one crew man. There’s no point in making an action movie if the action is incoherent. Foster seems to be doing it more as a stylistic element than anything functional, which is a shame. Its should always be function before style, a mistake a veteral director would not make.
Special Effects: Good (23/25)
- Special Effects: Great – While the construction of the action sequences might be questionable, the detail and special effects required to pull them off is superb. The opening car chase sequence and the plane chase sequence are most memorable because of good stunt work and special effects. The opera scene is also stunning.
- Music: Good – While in general the music in this film from David Arnold, who has done other recent Bond flicks, is good, I have a bone to pick with the theme song by Jack White and Alicia Keys. The instrumental version written by White is fantastic, the final film version….not so much. It just sounds like a result of poor production. A shame really.
- X-Factor: Okay – Its the first Bond movie that is a direct sequel, but besides continuing to show the grittier side of Bond and great production values, it doesn’t stand out from other entries in the series.
The Verdict: (79/100) = C+
- What’s Good? Daniel Craig continues to shine as bond, great special effects, and it builds on the originality of the previous Bond film.
- What’s Bad? The movie moves too fast for its detailed plot to sink in, and the action sequences are difficult to follow. What’s worse is the movie doesn’t feel like a Bond film at all, loosing wit and charm for muscle and adrenaline.
- Summary: Bond stars in a generic spy movie.
My previous review: Rated: The Road (2009)