Anthony's Film Review
Quantum of Solace (2008)
The 22nd James Bond film unfortunately deviates too far from the familiar Bond formula...
The James Bond movies have been and still are one of my favorite movie series. I like how this set of spy action films can follow a basic formula, the Bond formula, without being a repetitive series of movies. All of the films have exciting action, gorgeous women, and memorable villains. Most have gadgets and high-tech toys. Some even have a dose of humor, particularly those in the Roger Moore era. Each film can emphasize one ingredient and cut down on another, depending on how much the filmmakers are willing to experiment with the formula. Overall, it's fascinating to look at the Bond series, both as a whole and in terms of its individual entries.
Naturally, the Bond films do vary in quality. Some ideas can work quite well and produce a real hit. Others don't and result in a miss. Quantum of Solace, the 22nd James Bond movie and the second Bond movie to star Daniel Craig, is unfortunately a miss in my book. It's one of those Bond movies that focus on realism rather than fantasy spy action and attempt to steer from the Bond formula. I have no issue with such a movie if it still maintains the very basic elements of the formula. However, Quantum of Solace moves way too far from the Bond formula, leaving behind the familiar elements only in trace amounts.
To help illustrate, here's the plot. Following the events in Casino Royale, James Bond is on a mission to infiltrate a worldwide criminal organization by following every possible lead into it. On the way, he meets a woman named Camille (Olga Kurylenko) and learns about the suspicious Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). Bond goes after Greene while his superior M (Judi Dench) and the British Secret Service watch his moves carefully, in case Bond's efforts jeopardize their chances to bring down this mysterious criminal organization. Bond also meets with CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), but only briefly.
From this, I can point out a lot of flaws. Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale but assumes you have already seen the previous Bond movie. That, however, is the least of its problems. The Bond women, Camille and a British agent named Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), share very little romance with Bond. In fact, Bond's romantic or sexual moments with these women are less than a minute in duration. As for the villain, Dominic Greene is an ordinary movie villain whose scheme is relatively limited in scope, not a megalomaniac whose plot has vast implications. Perhaps the biggest surprise involves Bond himself. Even though he is supposed to be a ruthless killer working for the British government, he seems so cold that he is more like a loose cannon than a hero we can cheer for.
Now, if there's one thing I liked to some degree, it's the action. The movie has about six action scenes, all of which I thought were cool enough to see. Nevertheless, even they have flaws. The camera shots shake frequently, zoom in way too close, and last for less than five seconds. There is too much jumping around to appreciate the excitement of close combat, gunfights, and explosions. The result is a somewhat dizzying and confusing series of images, not the kind of action that serves as eye candy. Also, there are two sequences that alternate between shots of Bond chasing a bad guy and shots of a crowd of people nearby, even before the two groups of people collide.
And this leads to my final complaint. The non-action portions of the story overemphasize scenery. James Bond may be arriving at a place where he expects to meet Dominic Greene, but the shots focus much less on Bond and more on the villainous characters and even the extras crowding the set. The director, Marc Forster, has experience with films about human drama, but not action films. Quantum of Solace definitely suffers by having the wrong kind of director at the helm.
Even as a James Bond fan, I was quite disappointed by this movie. It has a decent amount of action outweighed by numerous script problems, the near absence of the Bond formula, and an unmemorable title song "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys. I hate to say it, but Quantum of Solace marks a low point in the series, at least for me. It wouldn't matter if this same movie removed all references to the world of James Bond and presented itself as a non-Bond spy thriller. It's still a film with too much sluggishness in plot.
I think the people behind the next Bond movie, which I'm sure will be made, should review the Bond formula and remember why this spy series has been unique since 1962. It's not supposed to be any kind of spy movie. It's supposed to be a spy movie in its own class altogether.
For more information about Quantum of Solace, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unofficial James Bond Films