Quantum of Solace
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
For forty-five years, the opening of the newest adventure of James Bond has been reason for theatergoers worldwide to celebrate. Fans have flocked to most of the films, despite a semi-regular change of actors in the role, the tone of the story, and even the varying quality of the expected theme song.
The quizzically titled Quantum of Solace should likely keep the track record of ticket sales on pace. Unfortunately, however, it’s not a very good film. After a smashing debut as 007 in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig is back and is out for blood over the death of his beloved Vesper Lind in that film. In Casino, Craig had to re-image the Bond character so that viewers would believe him in the role…and succeeded admirably. In Quantum, he merely stalks…or runs…or speeds…through the landscape dispatching the bad guys left and right.
In fact, Quantum of Solace is not so much a Bond movie than it is a Bourne movie, as it seems to owe much to the second installment of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne series. The plot is a jumbled mess of a tale that lurches instead of flows. The rhythm is car chase…scenery. Boat chase…scenery. Fistfight…scenery. Foot chase…scenery. And in between the action and the scenery, the filmmakers introduce the bad guys, the peripheral characters, and the plot…if you can keep up with it all. The villains and others are extremely bland with one exception…the brief appearance of British model Gemma Arterton as an agent named Fields. She makes the most of what little she’s given to do, and steals every scene in which she appears.
The returning stalwarts…Judi Dench as M, Giancarlo Gianinni reprising his role from Casino, and Jeffrey Wright as CIA agent Felix Leiter are fine, but there’s nothing new for them to do.
The many actions scenes are filmed with the now-dreaded “shaky-cam” style that can almost induce motion sickness in one’s theatre seat. It’s as if the director of photography had the camera strapped to his chest while having a coughing fit.
The opening credits theme by Jack White and Alicia Keys is loud, tuneless, and instantly forgettable. The director of choice is Marc Forster, who helmed such acclaimed films as Monster's Ball, The Kite Runner, and Finding Neverland. He seems out of his element with a big-budget action thriller.
If you expect to learn the meaning of the title Quantum of Solace, it won’t come from the film. Instead, try doing a Google search for “meaning of Quantum of Solace” and you’ll find ample explanation, if, by the time the film is over, you even care.
And to add insult to injury, the first set of six Bond films in the high-definition, high-priced Blu-Ray DVD format has just been released in time for holiday gift-giving. They’re not in chronological order, and with the exceptions of Dr. No and From Russia with Love, don’t feature the best films in the series. Every Bond fan has his or her favorites, so it’s an argument that could go on for days. Suffice to say, it’s doubtful that For Your Eyes Only and Die Another Day would be anyone’s first choices for Blu-Ray treatment.
But Bond has survived every time over the years…a plethora of villains; the later, lame Roger Moore films; even George Lazenby, who played 007 one time in On Her Majesty's Secret Service to almost universal scorn, even though the film is one of the best in the series. So it’s quite likely that 007 will survive this cinematic misstep.
The good news is that the total running time of Quantum of Solace makes it the shortest of the Bond films thus far. The bad news is that it’s not short enough.