Bond Week: Official Quantum of Solace Review!
by Alex Billington
November 11, 2008
When it comes to James Bond, I'm a bit more sensitive than most moviegoers. In truth, I'm a big James Bond fan and have been all my life. Bond means more to me than nearly any other big screen hero or franchise in history, so when I go into a Bond movie, I go into it very critically. With that in mind, however, Quantum of Solace didn't let me down, at all. I walked out of it the first time so amazed and so stunned that a modern Bond movie could be that great, that I had to wait to see it a second time to confirm that it really was that good. So after finally catching it again, I'm able to officially call Quantum of Solace the best Bond since GoldenEye in 1995. Many will disagree, but that's because they're not Bond fans like I am.
The best move producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson ever made was to hire an independent artsy filmmaker for a Bond movie - Marc Forster. First off, I think Martin Campbell is a great director and I think he did a great job with Casino Royale, but for a Bond fan who loves the original movies more than anything, it was a bit odd to see at first. In the end I loved Casino Royale, but stepping into Quantum of Solace, we finally got to see a Bond film that took us back to his roots, finished a great story started in the previous film, and used a refined and minimalistic style unique to director Marc Forster. All of those combined resulted in an awesomely entertaining Bond film that I truly loved watching.
Quantum of Solace picks up right after the final scene of Casino Royale takes place, with James Bond (Daniel Craig) on the run (in a beautiful Aston Martin DBS) from henchman who started chasing him after he confronted Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) on the steps of his own home in Italy. From there the action just doesn't stop, as Bond and M's investigation is abruptly interrupted when an agent turns out to be working for the other side. Bond ends up with dual objectives in Quantum of Solace: discover what the new villain named Dominic Greene is up to, and find Vesper's old boyfriend so he can get his revenge. Along the way he comes across the feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who is looking for some revenge of her own.
There are plenty of basic attributes of Quantum of Solace that really stand out. Forster and his cinematographer Roberto Schaefer do a phenomenal job of making the film, and all of its exotic locations, look stunning on the big screen. And those locations, ranging from London to Italy to Panama to the deserts of Bolivia, are all subtle throwbacks to the Bond days of past; actually shooting on location at each of them greatly pays off as well. Bond's mannerisms, while still in need of refining, are definitely starting to improve, and Daniel Craig is really starting to fit in perfectly with the iconic James Bond image that Sean Connery and Roger Moore defined in the minds of many fans back in the day.
While there is a lot to love, Solace isn't exactly perfect, but no Bond movie is. And that's something that I think only true die-hard James Bond fans will recognize. Even Casino Royale had its flaws, but what makes them so uniquely enjoyable each time is that I'm able to look at the film and appreciate what Marc Forster brought to the franchise that I hadn't ever seen before. His directorial decision to intercut fight scenes with other events (e.g. the Tosca performance) not only pulled me out of the moment, but felt jerky and annoying. But on the other hand, his very sleek style and choice to include fight scenes set in the four elements (earth, water, air, fire) was what I ended up loving the most about this particular Bond movie.
In the end, I expect that most moviegoers might find that Quantum of Solace didn't top Casino Royale, but to me, that's not what I'm interested in seeing. To them, their interest in James Bond was recently rekindled in 2006 with an energetic, and quite different, reboot of the franchise. To me, I've enjoyed all of the 21 previous Bond films and walked into this just looking for the next entertaining film in a series that I hold very close to my heart. Not only did Quantum of Solace achieve that goal of providing some of the most solid entertainment I've seen all year, but Marc Forster gave us a movie with great visuals, great fights, and a story that wrapped up one of the most successful reboots of a franchise that I love.
Alex's Rating: 9 out of 10