Reviews

Quantum Of Solace

3

The difficult second mission. Casino Royale - with cheese...

Two films in, and Daniel Craig's rookie 007 is racking 'em up nicely: African arms dealers, international terrorists, high-roller lowlifes, gangster bankers...

But, with his girlfriend forced into suicide by the murky QUANTUM crime syndicate, can he outfox the hunters and still secretly serve Her Majesty through a tear-streaked sheen of melacholy flashbacks?

Perhaps fearing a lovestruck Bond playing as a bit of a moper, and mindful of producer Barbara Broccoli's promise of "twice as much action", director Marc Forster has cranked the action up to 11 - and in some cases, 12.

The lights have barely dimmed before we're hurled straight into Bond threading the Aston along a dusty mountain road, scattering pursuers with machine-gun fire, screeching and swerving around oncoming tractors, skidding motorcyclists, fist-shaking locals...

Then it's Bond in a crowd-chase, Bond in a speedboat, Bond in a sewer pursuit (underneath a horserace)... Bond leaping over rooftops (like in Hulk), Bond on a motorbike, vaulting onto a boat... Bond in a dogfight, Bond in a fist-fight (in a lift, handcuffed, nailing a quadruple-captor takedown).

Best is a Bond-vs-baddie clash on collapsing scaffolding which ends with both men jangling and dangling on chains, straining for their dropped weapons...

But, since most of this is frontloaded into the first hour, the pace is fidgety and unsettled, with finger-drumming patches of muddled, talky, plot-exposition functioning as downtime while the stunt-guys set up the next sequence.

With an over-caffeinated, Greengrass-lite, handheld style and a twitchy finger on the Big Explosion button, Forster has delivered a 24-nodding, Bourne-winking action flick which happens to have James Bond as the main character. And that isn't really the same thing as a Bond movie. With 007, the pleasure is in the measure. This is shaken, stirred, whisked and centrifuged. Even Craig looks dizzy.

But Forster at least has the chops to add a sprinkle of artsy spice into the formula, most notably with a spectacular set-piece at the Bregenz opera-house: Bond in feral frenzy, gunning his way out of a restaurant, slaying a mini-army of goons, intercut with the contrasting clinical theatrics of an on-stage death-scene.

Craig and Dench are the twin pillars of class. As M herself remarked, Casino Royale's fledgeling agent was a bluff “blunt instrument”. Here, he's sharper, more angular: a tumbling knife of ire and intent. All the same gristle and bristle, but now glinting with inner steel.

An inevitable torso-shot embodies the progression: wirier, wilier, easy on the beef... And, given his reported creative input, Craig is clearly having fun dialling up Bond's rage-blinded brutality: ruinous low-blows, eye-bursting elbow-smashes... "There's something horribly efficient about him...” (M again). Indeed... As seen in the scene where he calmly waits for a battered henchman's pulse to stop before moving off. Brr.

Dench - chilly, watchful, maternal - glides on by, straining to shorten her mad dog's leash but always packing a quantum of menace. Never before has a woman applied face-cream with such homicidal propulsion.

Shame they're both forced to hump along such a ragged train of supporting characters. Bond Girl 1 Olga Kurylenko is stunning but stiff, with a limp back-story. Bond Girl 2 Gemma Arterton has little to do but play it plummy ("Oh my gosh!") and service a cute Goldfinger riff.

Bond Baddie - the awkwardly mortgage adviser-named Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) is just a diplomat with a good tailor; more shifty and shrewd than proper-evil. He's like a stern defensive midfielder: solid, unspectacular, holding the centre, protecting the plot, feeding the major players, neither straying from his mark nor stirring the blood.

"We have begun destabilising the government!" he winks to a clique of lackeys. Blofeld would have dumped him straight down the pirahna-chute.

So perhaps this is work-in-progress more than end product, with the producers cooking up a colder revenge-dish, tracing a more protracted story arc for their rebooted Bond's rooting-out of the QUANTUM ringmasters.

But if they're serious about mining deeper psychological channels, exposing the grief-tainted mechanics whirring inside the mind of a killing machine, they need a director who can do both action /and/ artistry. Someone with a stark, stirring rep for taking a thespy actor and burrowing to the dark heart of a flawed hero. Paging Chris Nolan...
 

Andy Lowe

Verdict:

Mystifying title, accident-prone production, awkward end-product... This is 007 in mid-story crisis; a festival of blaring action set-pieces propping up a scrappy script and undercooked characters. From blond Bond to bland Bond.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • PiggyBean69

      Nov 14th 2008, 13:52

      3

      It was a bitter disappointment to what was going to be one of the films of 2008

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    • AnneFay

      Nov 16th 2008, 23:07

      3

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    • BenCh

      Nov 17th 2008, 16:47

      3

      Needs to lose some weight in the actions scenes, and bulk up the plot if it's to compete with the likes of Bourne or Syriana

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    • Silenus66

      Nov 17th 2008, 18:34

      2

      I agree with the two previous comments. I really enjoyed Casino Royale but with this one I was looking at the watch to see when it ended. Just did not engage me at all. There are the usual dry comic moments and the action scenes were very good but as a whole it didn't work for me I'm afraid.

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    • redpaul

      Nov 18th 2008, 23:00

      1

      What a let - was so looking forward to a bit of escapsim. Found myself not being able to watch some of the action scenes as it made me dizzy they changed so fast. Then some of the editing was really odd too. Oil instead of gold! Not just painted drunk it too. Ah well lets hope they get back to making a proper Bond film in the next one.

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    • beardedone

      Nov 20th 2008, 11:43

      2

      A great disappointment. The plot was obscure, the choppy, frenetic action scenes left me more seasick than impressed and the famous Bond humour was almost totally absent. And no M! To me the worst Bond ever.

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    • Goodland

      Nov 23rd 2008, 12:26

      3

      Hmmm. I saw it last night and, for me, Broccoli's boast of "twice as much action" is exactly where it falls down. Quantity over quality. Look at the action scenes from Casino Royale: The Freerunning, the stair-well dust-up, the car-flip, the building collapse... they were all really impressive. The impression I had in Royale was that they knew that, they knew they had quality there and they didn't feel the need to rush it or try and artificially induce adrenaline with shaky camera and hyper-active adrenaline. They wanted you to see what was going on. In QOS, there is the feeling that they recognise that they have nothing special in the roof-top chase, the car-chase or the boat chase etc, they are all pretty standard and just get slotted into the plot. As for the end, and I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but it is just a standard 70s bond climax. Just a crippling lack of imagination or ambition really... I feel that even they realised that, they knew that there wouldn't be anyone trying to copy or use their ideas because there isn't an original one there. Total film identified it, the race back-ground to the sewer-chase was nicked from one film, the roof-chase was used in Hulk, the boat-chase was standard bond fare... Doesn't mean that I hated the film. Some of the films that generate heated feed-back aren't the Batman and Robins of this world, they're the Alien 3s... the ones that were good but could have been exceptional. The Bourne films were maybe a hint that Bond should have acknowledged but, in reality, those films were an adrenaline shot but will never have any true resonance. Who will remember them in another five-ten years time? In adopting (nicking) their style, Bond has embraced that problem: QOS was just pretty insubstantial.

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    • Crezzy123

      Nov 24th 2008, 19:13

      I was a bit disappointed with the plot, it just got really difficult to follow. Action scenes were amazing though, although the film in itself just didn't seem to be like the tradtional Bond movies.....wouldn't fall pver myelf to see it again. Royale was better =]

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    • jfield

      Nov 26th 2008, 10:58

      2

      If you built a hotel in the middle of the desert, particularly in a country that's had all its water snaffled by a creepy Frenchman, wouldn't you try pretty hard to make sure it wasn't flammable...?

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    • pegmiester

      Dec 4th 2008, 0:26

      4

      in all you have to give it credit it was a good film! but it wasnt a bond where the hell is Q and the whole shaken not stirred line gone. casino royale yes was better but it still wasn't a bond without his gadgets and stuff, i think i counted about 1 gadget in quantum a mobile!!! i strongly suggest that in the 3rd part of this lil trilogy they've got going they put Q in it. overall: good film not a bond

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    • bartolomewjay

      Dec 16th 2008, 20:10

      la peli es una reverenda cagada,y las escenas de accion estan muy mal filmadas,burdamente copiadas de bourne el ultimatum

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    • mallardb

      Dec 18th 2008, 14:48

      3

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    • steelneil

      Dec 22nd 2008, 11:26

      2

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    • casinoheat

      Dec 22nd 2008, 19:50

      3

      Daniel Craig was great, but its not as good as Casino Royale.

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    • lordofthepies

      Jan 7th 2009, 19:12

      1

      Welcome to James pond! If you want action and no solid story stay in with any Rambo film. Watch this if you want to see James Bond as it should never be seen.

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    • JohnB

      Apr 6th 2009, 22:50

      2

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    • user098197

      May 2nd 2009, 22:56

      2

      ...not a bond fan but it was bizzare, no particular Bong glamour, just tired conspiracy, begs cinicism !!

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    • thekillingjoke

      May 21st 2009, 17:46

      3

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    • sjsmith88

      Jun 25th 2009, 13:53

      2

      I'd rather watch Moonraker any day. I get the darkness of the new Bonds but this was just rubbish.

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    • gdavies

      Jun 25th 2009, 20:34

      I thought it wasn't as bad as all that. I was mostly disappointed by the lack of gun sight at the start and the far too subtle use of the bond theme - it's the music that maketh these films. I think i must be the only one who absolutely loved the action - but wish the film could have been a touch longer with much LESS subtle links (i.e. such as him getting the suit in Bergenz). I give the film 4 stars.

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    • Auston

      Dec 19th 2010, 9:49

      3

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    • kobirana

      Dec 30th 2010, 12:34

      Found myself not being able to watch some of the action scenes as it made me dizzy they changed so fast. Then some of the editing was really odd too. Oil instead of gold! Not just painted drunk it too. Ah well lets hope they get back to making a proper Bond film in the next one. Pneumonia symptoms

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      Jan 11th 2011, 17:14

      4

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      Jan 23rd 2011, 2:54

      5

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      4

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