Quantum of Solace (2008)

Dir. Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, etc.

I don’t recommend this. (Larri didn’t care for this either.) The film is not terrible, but it’s not good either, and I think the film mainly avoided a three because Daniel Craig was in it. Btw, I really liked Casino Royale, a film you should see before seeing this. (If you like Casino, you’ll be interested in this film, but I don’t think you will like it.)

The next installment in the 007 series. The plot and the way it develops is so weak that I have little motivation for describing it, but here goes. The British intelligence discover a secret organization that is made up of high ranking people throughout the world. M (Dench) sends Bond (Craig) to learn more and gets on the trail of a businessman, Dominic Green (Amalric) of a “green” company, which is really a front for this secret organization. The organization supporting a dictator in Bolivia in order to get control of desert, which supposedly has oil. In the process, Bond connects with a former Bolivian intelligence agent seeking revenge on the dictator for killing her family.

Where Casino Royale advanced the Bond franchise two steps forward, Quantum of Solace essentially took the series two steps back. Besides Craig’s realistic and smouldering Bond and the lack of gadgets (two good things that made the series less cartoonish), this film is essentially a mediocre Hollywood action film. Gone are the intelligent dialogue, good acting and emphasis on story over special effects and action sequences; back are the emphasis on action and the Bond beauty played by a model pretending to be an actor.

The filmmakers do a terrible job of filmming the action, too. The action sequences are edit and shot in a way where determining what’s really happening to the hero and villians are impossible. (Why Hollywood tolerate this kind of filmmaking is beyond me? I can’t believe this style is more profitable than one where audiences can understand the action. There is actually one sequence, where Bond fights with a villian on a scaffold, that would have been interesing, reminiscent of a Speilberg action sequence, but the quick editing, poor camera angles and close-ups ruin it.)

These actions aren’t helped by Bond’s rapid and excessive traveling from one country to another. This prevented the character or the story to be fully grounded, creating an unsettling feeling in me. I think this exasperated the confusing way the story developed. I had a hard time following what was going on, as things happened quickly, but when I did piece things to get the development was so uninteresting I didn’t care.

I also didn’t care one wit about Camille (Kurylenko), the new Bond babe. Yes, she’s beautiful; no she can’t act, and there is nothing written about her that makes her interesting in the slightest. A big reason Casino Royale was so terrific was the presence of Vesper. She was a match–intellectually and psychologically–for Bond, and she was played by someone (Eva Green) who could effectively deliver the smart dialogue written for her. And it’s not like you had to sacrifice looks.

Another big disappointment was the villian, Dominic Green. He was bland, not menacing or inspiring of fear or revulsion that are qualities of effective villians, including the one played by Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre) in Casino Royale. Amalric is a good actor, but he was miscase here. Then again, the writing for the character has a lot to do with it, too.

If the filmmakers are listening, please return to the tact taken in Casino Royale. Go back to well-written characters and focus on developing a good story. Then follow that with some well-directed action sequences as a complement. Keep Daniel Craig, with his bleeding facial cuts and searing intensity. Get a better villian–Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and you’ll get the franchise back on track.

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