QUANTUM OF SOLACE

 

 

THE PLOT THUS FAR

Daniel Craig hasn’t lost a step since Casino Royale–this James Bond remains dangerous, a man who could earn that license to kill in brutal hand-to-hand combat… but still look sharp in a tailored suit. And Quantum of Solance itself carries on from the previous film like no other 007 movie, with Bond nursing his anger from the Casino Royale storyline and vowing blood revenge on those responsible. For the new plot, we have villain Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), intent on controlling the water rights in impoverished Third World nations and happy to overthrow a dictator or two to get his way. Olga Kurylenko is very much in the “Bond girl” tradition, but in the Ursula Andress way, not the Denise Richards way. And Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Giancarlo Giannini are welcome holdovers. If director Marc Forster and the longtime Bond production team seem a little too eager to embrace the continuity-shredding style of the Bourne pictures (especially in a nearly incomprehensible opening car chase), they nevertheless quiet down and get into a dark, concentrated groove soon enough. And the theme song, “Another Way to Die,” penned by Jack White and performed by him and Alicia Keys, is actually good (at times Keys seems to be channeling Shirley Bassey–nice). Of course it all comes down to Craig. And he kills.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

“Quantum of Solace” picks up only minutes after the end of “Casino Royale” and we are presented with a very damaged and changed James Bond. As revealed in the first film by Vesper Lynd’s assessment of him upon their first meeting on the train, James Bond is a man who came up from humble beginnings and was given a privileged education but never allowed to forget his low origins. This has made him a very guarded loner with a chip on his shoulder, a perfect candidate for recruitment by MI6. In his words to her later on in the film, Vesper has “stripped me of my armor.” But by the end of that film he is a man scarred by the death of his love, the armor is back on never to be penetrated again. He is now becoming the Bond of legend and a man bent on revenge.
So in “Quantum” there is no reason for the old fashioned quips or much humor in this man. Yet if you pay attention the character of James Bond as played by the incomparable Daniel Craig he lets us see that there are cracks in the armor. Something of a human heart still exists in him. This is played out in the scene after the plane crash where Camille asks him about his past. Craig shows it in his eyes in the most marvelous example of his layered and subtle acting style. Craig builds and molds a deeper, darker more complex Bond than we have ever seen before, a character more true to the books than in previous incarnations of Bond.
The action in the film is superlative and stylish. The opening car chase is indeed a nail biter only surpassed by the Sienna chase moments later. This too is then topped by the DC10 aerial battle towards the end of the film. The stunts are breathtaking and propel the film at top notch speed. But perhaps the most stunning and original sequence is the gun fight in the restaurant at the Opera house. This is played without sound effect as the score of “Tosca” commands the ear and heightens the emotion of the scene. This is inspired and brilliant film making taking in account all aspects of editing, cinematography, score, and acting. And since I mentioned music I cannot leave out the incredible delicious score by David Arnold who has infused his Bond scores with the much need taste of John Barry. He captures the glorious Barry sound and builds brilliantly upon it.
All the principle players give superlative performances. Judi Dench command attention as she always has as “M”. Giancarlo Giannini redeems himself and is truly touching as Mathis. Mathieu Amalic is appropriately slithery and devious as the villain Green. As Agent Fields, Miss Gemma Arterton brings a light and fun light to the film. Finally in the role of Camille, Olga Kurylenko holds her own opposite Daniel Craig. This is no mean feat and she is wonderful, athletic and touching in the film.
In the end Bond does find a quantum of solace and ends the film in a telling way. A small gesture that lets us know he is now moving on but not without a tinge of sadness. This beautiful sad ending is a refreshing and moving way to end a Bond film.
 
The DVD arrives in a two-disc special edition that covers a lot without really saying anything. Sure, the A/V Quality is top notch for DVD. But, I don’t need so much room on the discs wasted on people applauding the choice to score a scene using Tosca. Plus, what’s up with the constant praise for abrupt cuts and the quick fade to nothing at the end? I would like to see real material presented, rather than false praise. Still, I’d recommend it as a purchase for Bond fans. 
 
RELEASE DATE: 03/24/09

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