Stale Popcorn » [Movie Review] QUANTUM OF SOLACE

[Movie Review] QUANTUM OF SOLACE

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Quantum of Solace is the first, we are told time and time again, “direct” Bond sequel in the franchise’s history. It starts “one hour” after the events of Casino Royale. In much the same way that The Bourne Ultimatum started almost instantaneously after The Bourne Supremacy. The film focuses on a highly trained spy/assassin breaking free from his leash and going rogue on a personal mission of revenge. Just like in The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum. It has motorcycle stunt work in exotic locations – like The Bourne Ultimatum. It has roof-top chases, quickly-edited fight sequences, scenes in which heroes walk into abandoned apartments and get set on by a dude with a knife and have to go brutally hand-to-hand with one another. You know, just like… You get the point, right?

I’m not trying to be be facetious. Honest. But Quantum of Solace (its action controlled by the Bourne trilogy’s second unit stunt guy Dan Bradley) cannot help but evoke constant memories of that masterpiece esponiage trilogy. It constantly feels like a glossier, more silly, less controlled version of those audacious Matt Damon movies, in much the same way that Cliffhanger and Passenger 57 were much less intelligent but hugely fun “samplings” of the Die Hard series. The most obvious thing that separates the latest Bond movies from the Bourne movies (asides from budget!) is that whilst the Bourne movies used copious action to tell one fluid, kinetic story in each of its films, the Bond movies still feel like action set-pieces connected together with stuff to keep you engaged till the next action sequence.

Now, I’m not the world’s biggest James Bond fan and, in the past, I have admitted that I saw the “re-boot” approach they were planning to take with Casino Royale [a la Batman Begins] as smacking of desperation. With the Bourne movies being infinitely superior over the course of two films then anything Bond has done in twenty-odd movies, I just questioned what the point was in carrying on with this franchise. I didn’t rate (but do now!) Daniel Craig as an actor and didn’t really have that high a hope for the film but judging from the internet and from listening to mates down the pub, it seemed I wasn’t alone. Then Casino Royale came along and really, really entertained the living daylights (pun intended!) out of me. I had a blast. It’s not the greatest blockbuster ever made like the media would like to have you believe but it’s damn well bloody close in my opinion and still a great cinematic ride. The opening action sequence, combining some great stunt work with some superb wire-free parkeur (free-running), was probably one of the best movie set-pieces of that year. It’s an unevenly loaded movie in that it is completely top heavy. It cannot best the opening sequence, but it tries commendably hard with the airport chase sequence. Then it struggles to better that but serves up the (very Bourne Identity esque) stairway fight sequence as an apology. By the end they haven’t got anything left so it’s almost as if they just shrug and go “Hmm, let’s go sink a building in Venice then huh?”

Quantum of Solace has learnt from such mistakes. It’s extremely heavy on the action (a good 75% of the film’s running time is action beats!) but it never suffers from having shot its load too early like Casino Royale. In fact, this film seems to exist with a vehicular checklist sat by the director’s monitor: “We’ve done stuff with the car at the start yeah? Right, let’s do a foot chase! Got that? Good, let’s do a motorcycle set piece now! Right, moving on, bring out the boats! Good, good stuff, yeah! Now, roll out the aeroplanes and helicopters!” Think of this as James Bond in Ian Fleming’s Planes, Boats and Automobiles if you will.

Press kits and producers keep talking about this being a “stream-lined” Bond movie and the “shortest” in the film’s franchise history. This is for a reason if you ask me – the film ain’t got a lot to it outside of the action sequences. You know when a film is padded because it feels bloated and plays longer in your mind then it actually is. This is the case with Quantum of Solace which has a simple enough storyline (seeking revenge for the death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond sets out to stop an environmentalist, who has ties to a shadowy organisation responsible for her corruption and subsequent suicide, from taking control of a country’s water supply) but always feels as if it is making it much more complicated and sophisticated then it actually is.

It certainly thinks that it is saying more about our current state of governmental affairs, oil and the environment then it actually is. It also thinks that (and I’m almost certain this is a Paul Haggis invention) it is way cleverer circumventing the “silly name” Bond cliches then it really is too. The whole thing with the unrevealed Christian name of Gemma Artherton’s under-used Agent Fields is nothing if not predictable. It’s eventually revealed in the film’s end credits but Beatles’ fans will be one step ahead of the game regarding this anyway.

On top of this, the film very quickly falls back into “typical” Bond conventions – the return of the Bond theme as an instigator for all musical cues, the villain’s secret lair out in the middle of nowhere prepared only for the movie’s climax, the sexy silhouetted ladies over the opening credits, the horrendous theme song, uncomfortably unsophisticated product placement (Hello Virgin Atlantic!!) – that you thought were long abandoned with Casino Royale. And, while we’re on that subject, let’s discuss that Jack White / Alicia Keys “Another Way To Die” theme song. God it is awful! You hear it the first time and you think “M’eh!” but when you hear it in context over the opening, and then realise that it is used frequently as orchestral incidental music throughout the movie, it just grates on you so badly! It’s quite possibly the worst Bond song of all the recent movies. And bear in mind, how bad that Garbage track was for The World Is Not Enough.

That’s the grumbles aside though!

The epic foot chase straight after the opening credits is an exceptional set piece that marks Marc Forster (director of Finding Neverland and Monster’s Ball remember!) as a guy capable of holding the reigns on solid action fare. There are moments when Forster and company try so hard to emulate in the action sequences the crazy-cam/fast-edits of the Bourne movies, that they disappear into the motion-sickness-inducing confusing territory of Michael Bay, but by and large the action is heavy, nothing if not regular, glossy and thoroughly involving.

There’s some neat touches outside of the action, along the way, too. I thought Forster’s location titling to match the locale as to where they were was brilliantly done. I loved Olga Kurylenko’s work as the mysterious Camille too, and she’s most definitely the strongest female character (outside of Judi Dench’s M!) that the franchise has seen in a long time. Less “Bond girl” and more fully realised character in her own right. She’s sexy, feisty and well written. Everything they told us Halle Berry was going to be in Die Another Day and then just embarrassed themselves with.

It’s unarguable that this is a thoroughly, thoroughly entertaining film. It is as exceptionally well made as you’ll have come to expect and as much of a Bourne knock-off as it may come across (you look at that penultimate scene in the apartment and tell me it doesn’t evoke memories of the finale of The Bourne Supremacy), it’s still a thoroughly solid action blockbuster well worthy of your time. It is flawed, yes, and it’s sort of “typical” Bond finale leaves you wondering just how well-mapped out this “epic story arc” is (that the producers speak of) and what the inevitable third movie can bring to the screen that three flawless Bourne movies and two Bond-led Bourne-rip-offs haven’t already, but it is a huge heap of fun action extravagance.

And, when it comes to Bond, do you really want or need anything more?

NB: The title doesn’t aggravate me as much as a) it did when it was first announced and b) the god-awful theme song BUT I still think there’s better. Here’s my TOP 5 suggestions for better titles:

5. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER – CUBIC ZACHONIAS ARE FOR THE LASSES YOU WANT TO SEDUCE INTO BED WITH MEANINGLESS FAKE MARRIAGE PROPOSALS!

4. AREN’T FOREIGNERS SUCH “MEANIES”?

3. THUNDERFLAPS

2. CASINO ROYALE II: CASINO ROYALER

1. I WANT BOURNE’S IDENTITY

37 thoughts on “[Movie Review] QUANTUM OF SOLACE

  1. HAZMAT

    well thank you for this early review! thats awsome! sounds really good

    4 popcorns? ill deffinately watch this

    happy halloween!

  2. Kristina

    I’m not a big Bond fan. To me, they feel like the same movie done over and over, just with different people. Casino Royale was enjoyable enough, but it didn’t rock my socks like it did with other people. I’ll see QoS in order to review it, but I’m not foaming at the mouth.

  3. Wazz72

    Why do people compare bond to Bourne? Surely everybody knows that Bourne is a total copy of bond and not the other way around. If borne is still going in 40+ years then then Ill be impressed.

  4. Gazz

    Kris – Strawberry Fields? Yup! Seriously!

    Hazmet – It ain’t early. We just get it two weeks ahead of the rest of the world!

  5. Gazz

    I think comparisons between the BOURNE trilogy and the RECENT James Bond movies are fair ones.

    In my opinion, the James Bond franchise – until recently – are blockbusters that harbour a check list of “cliches” that they need to adhere to; the gadgets, the locales, the women, the quips, the improbable action sequences etc. They were NOT what you would call proper “espionage” movies.

    The BOURNE trilogy came along and it revolutionaised the “espionage” subgenre and grounded it a sense of reality and a current day context. When THE BOURNE IDENTITY hit, it was exceptional but ever so slightly flawed. Hence the reason why Bond producers didn’t take much stock in it, and pushed on with their stale franchise and released DIE ANOTHER DAY.

    The reception to DIE, in my opinion, was hampered by the fact that it was shit and that audiences had got a taste for a different sort of “spy” movie, if you will, with BOURNE IDENTITY.

    Low and behold, when the Bond team came to “re-boot” the franchise they did it using the Bourne movies as a template. There’s no getting around that. The style, the pace, the grounding in reality that exists in the Bond movies now (with the last two movies) is a direct result of those Bourne movies.

    Bringing Dan Bradley on board with this latest movie, after the work he did in the Bourne trilogy, just edges one franchise closer to the other. The hand-to-hand fist-fights, the car chases, the roof-top chases, the motorcycle sequence that all exist in QUANTUM OF SOLACE are all stuff that is exciting and well done, but has been seen before in BOURNE.

    And there’s my argument; there’s stuff you’ve seen in the new BOND movies before with the BOURNE movies – but there certainly wasn’t anything in the BOURNE movies in terms of pace, action, design, execution, etc that had been seen before in the genre!

    QUANTUM OF SOLACE exists as a bastardisation of wanting to be like the BOURNE movies and fighting (and losing) against the battle to bring back old Bond cliches (the return of the Bond theme as an instigator for all musical cues, the villain’s secret lair out in the middle of nowhere prepared only for the movie’s climax, the sexy silhouetted ladies over the opening credits, the horrendous theme song, uncomfortably unsophisticated product placement).

    To say that Bourne is a “total copy” of the Bond franchise is something I totally disagree with; there was nothing in the Bond movies outside of empty-headed, fun excess. None of them had anything to say outside of being entertaining. None of them had a grounding in reality (until recently). Bourne was fresh. It could have so easily went down the route of stepping into Bond’s template and reigniting it in its own way. It chose to design its own template.

    If Bond had tried to keep consistency and solid story in the forefront throughout its franchise then it would not have survived. And that’s not a heavy criticism because what franchise could tell one fully arc’d story over 22 movies?!? Already with two movies in on the reboot, you have to ask whether it has the legs to push on with the story it is suggesting before people grow weary. Bourne told one complete story over three movies – perfectly!

    To compare the two, as of recent, is fair because CASINO ROYALE / QUANTUM unarguably ride the coat-tails of Bourne. To say that Bourne is the weaker of the two separate franchises or owes something to the Bond franchise is incorrect in my opinion!

  6. HAZMAT_LIKES_VAMPIRES

    “We just get it two weeks ahead of the rest of the world!”

    thats 14 days early
    or were 14 days late
    whatever
    i WANT to be you right now.

    ****jelousy****

  7. Gazz

    We always get our Bond and Richard Curtis movies well earlier then the US.

    We’d like to keep this going with the Bond movies but preferably give you the Richard Curtis ones, and not have them back! Thanks!

    lol

  8. Adam

    Hmm.. I have mixed feelings on this film. The camera was terrible but I enjoyed some of the acting. I was just wondering thought.. Gemma Arterton had like 5 seconds of screen time.. and why did she die? She tripped Elvis down the stairs but is that a reason to die?
    someone please enlighten me.. this is crippling me!

  9. Gazz Post author

    Unlike CASINO ROYALE, this doesn’t hold up as well with multiple viewings. But Adam, mate, relax…

    … Go rent THREE AND OUT if you’re an Atherton fan. Boobs out, full on sex scene and everything ;)

    Just a shame she’s sharing it with Mackenzie Crook! Lol

  10. Kristina

    I watched Casino Royale again a few days ago, and that free-running stuff is just jaw-dropping. Jesus, if this film has one sequence like that, I’ll be pleased.

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  12. Gazz Post author

    The opening roof-top is quite ace, not a patch on the free-running it has to be said.

    And it really is just a glossier version of what you’ve seen in the BOURNE movies.

    So, I’m going to go with ‘no’. Nothing to equal that, I’m afraid.

    PS
    Yes, Grundy, she does indeed. I’d love to stain them! :twisted: :blush: 8) :mrgreen: ;)

  13. HAZMAT

    what do you mean? theres no free running scenes in it?
    or as some people (and myself)call it, parkour.
    ah man! i was looking forward to the free running in this film!! mostly because CR had the awsome chase at the beggining…

  14. Gazz Post author

    There’s the roof-top chase at the start, but it’s not done in free-running style. It’s done in a more free-to-steal-from-Bourne style!

    See what I did there? Lol! Snarky Snark!

  15. HAZMAT

    when the avengers come out and captain america im so taking a vacation to where all of you guys live, in movies-come-out-weeks-before-they-do-in-florida-ville

  16. Gareth

    Hazmat, I would think that people in the USA would get to see The Avengers and/or Captain America before we do here in good ol’ Blighty. Don’t forget we had to wait an extra week after you to see The Dark Knight, for instance.

    And in some cases (The Mist for example) we had to wait months and months before it got released over here!

  17. Gazz Post author

    Hazmat, sir, I have explained this to you already. Let me try it again. Wait… let me get the finger-puppets on to help.

    Right, the US is ahead of us in terms of releases for the most part. MOST big movies are starting to get what is known as a ‘WWR’ which is a world-wide-release, because it combats piracy allegedly.

    But it doesn’t always work out that way. You’ve had ZACK & MIRI two weeks ahead of us, and you’ve had BODY OF LIES for 6 weeks. The average wait between a US and a UK release is ‘normally’, but not always, about a month.

    The exceptions, as I explained, are the BOND movies and Richard Curtis (or ‘Working Title’) movies. We always get them debuted first. Oh, and most foreign fare too… like [REC] which is awesome but you yanks had put it quarantine until after your ‘alright’ scene-for-scene remake came out which, ironically, was called QUARANTINE.

    I know I’m confusing you now aren’t I?

    Look, just remember this…. You yanks get most stuff before us! Let nothing else confuse you!

    LOL!

  18. HAZMAT

    haha! quarantine? body of lies?! zack and miri make a porno!? you guys got to see freaking james bond!!!

    lol

    well at least we get captain america and the avengers first…so ill remember to be extremely smug and brag alot about that. and ill spoil the whole movie too….

  19. Gazz Post author

    I’m willing to bet that Captain America, Thor and The Avengers will be “WWR”!

    So don’t get too excited about being smug ;)

  20. HAZMAT

    im sure some big time movie wont be a world wide release in the next 2 years

    im going to so spam you guys when the avengers come out if its not a wwr…”PEPPER POTS DIES AND CAPTAIN AMERICA USES HIS SHIELD TO SLICE RADIACTIVE MAN IN HALF TOWARDS THE END”

  21. Gazz Post author

    “within the next two years”

    Within the next 2 years James Cameron will have forcibly bulldozed all cinemas as we know them and built intensive, fully immersive, virtual reality tanks for us to be locked inside of to watch AVATAR: THE DIRECTORS CUT!

    Trust me! ;)

  22. Gazz Post author

    I know… But Kris, I should explain, we got an offer on taking on one of those creepy little 14 year old virgin kids as like a site mascot and it was a crapshoot between Hazmat, some Chinese Harry Potter fan or a Twilight obsessed fat girl.

    Best of a bad bunch, but Hazmat was the best I could get offered. We’re not AICN you know!

    :mrgreen:

  23. HAZMAT

    1) avatar is retarded. ive just seen pictures and comercials but- the only anime ANYTHING ive ever liked was DBZ

    2) aint it cool news is so gay…just the layout they use in their page makes me want to leave automatically (sorry if you like it) but everything about that website is repulsive…idk why. its on my hate list along with the jonas brothers, easter, shit, and the movie “bladerunner”

    3) i find the harrry potter movies to be disapointing and im not a HUGE twilight fan…i happened to enjoy the books…

    4) im eighteen!

    ah man id totally do anything short of sucking a dick to go to the punisher war zone screening…or watchmen.

  24. Gareth

    Hazmat……I’m almost speechless at you hating Blade Runner, but I’ll let that slide for now..

    Anyway, the Avatar that Gazz mentioned is actually James Cameron’s Avatar – a sci fi movie set to revolutionize cinema as we know it (maybe) and nothing at all to do with Avatar: The Last Air Bender (which is being turned into a movie by M. Night Shyamalan).

    Also, why would you want to ruin movies for others? That’s a little nasty. ;)

    Oh screw it. You want to see Punisher War Zone and don’t like Blade Runner?? What the hell is wrong with you?!?!?!?

    Kids. :p

  25. HAZMAT

    lol!!

    i would never spam a movie website ruining the end of one of the most anticipated movies (..talking about the evengers)
    i think i like my life

    oh i see i thought it was the stupid ass retarded anime show

    okay
    i understand you liked bladerunner. everyone does. i ADMIT im retarded for hating it. why do i admit to this? because ive NEVER EVER met a person that hated that movie. so i said to myself “well, it must be ME” but when i saw it…it was the biggest poddle of bat cum ive ever come accross. ive been explaining this for years..on every single movie website someones told me that im crazy for hating bladderunner and i have to type THIS to explain.
    i hate bladderunner and i LOVED spiderman 3.
    so no one evr agrees with me. if you do youll look extremely retarded. so i really dont blame you for liking bladerunner..or hating spiderman 3..(you should know im looking forward to tron 2)

    and watch the red band trailer for punisher war zone in which he sinks an arm chair in a guys left eye and jigsaw stabs a kid with a broken beer bottle

  26. Gareth

    I gotta be honest, Hazmat, I’ve seen the red band trailer for Punisher: War Zone and it really doesn’t do anything for me. But then, I liked the Thomas Jane effort and don’t really rate Lexi Alexander as a director. Also, the idea of “what could have been” in that brief moment in time when Walter Hill and Thomas Jane were both attached to it has really put me off. Saying that, I’m sure I’ll check it out when it hits DVD.

    As for Spiderman 3 – I know it wasn’t brilliant, but I quite like it too. Yes, it was muddled and rushed and nowhere near as good as the first two but I still enjoyed it for what it was. I certainly wouldn’t rate it over Blade Runner though! ;)

    And I’m looking forward to Tron 2, too.

    But never forget, it would be a boring world if everyone liked the same things. :)

  27. Kristina

    I’m still pissed at myself for spending $12 to see Spiderman 3 in IMAX. That movie was an overblown piece of shit.

    And for a film that cost a reported $300 million, the effects in that flick were utter tosh. How can Pirates 2 (another overblown piece of shit) cost less than Spiderman 3 and produce BETTER effects work?

  28. HAZMAT

    lmao- what? spiderman 3 ruled! i would do anythign to watch it in IMAX…:p

    lexi alexander is so badass in like 10000 different ways. thomas jane is too GQ model looking for frank castle and rey stevenson has a more rugged look about him…and his hair looks like the punishers…unlike janes who looked like a stylist had it done in 3 hours time

    you either love or hate tron. im one of those lucky adhd people that happened to worship tron

    i think that if i saw bladerunner in a movie theatre at the time it came out..i would have loved it. but at that time i was still in heaven/fetus mode. i saw it like in 2002 and laughed at it

  29. Gazz

    “it really doesn’t do anything for me”

    I remember when that used to mean something

    *sob sob*

    That goddamn mother****ing SPEED ****ing RACER review changed everything!

    :p

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