Tuesday, November 18, 2008

REVIEW: Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace

Year: 2008
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After the successful reboot that was Casino Royale, fans couldn't wait for the next installment in the famous 007 franchise. Seeing as how the last film turned out surprisingly good, I couldn't wait for the next film. However, my confidence soon turned for the worse when MGM announced the films title. I thought it sounded pretty stupid and aliitle weird for a Bond title, but I soon got over it. Than I got some what cautious when they announced that Marc Forster would be taking over directing duties from Martin Campbell who directed the last film, Casino Royale. This worried me alittle because Forster hasn't directed anything like this before. The final nail in the coffin was when I found out the film's running time. Being the shortest Bond film in history definitely had me wondering "whats going on over their". I knew because of all of this that this film wouldn't end up better than Casino Royale.

Plot Outline:
The film takes up where Casino Royale left off. James Bond (Daniel Craig) is still recovering from the loss of his girlfriend, Vesper. Setting out for revenge, he struggles to contain his feelings as M (Judi Dench) orders Bond to investigate the mysterious organization behind Vesper's betrayal. He soon discovers that Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) is a big player in the group and uncovers a plot to destabilise the existing government of a Latin American country. But he isn't the only one tracking Greene, he crosses swords with a beautiful foreign agent called Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who is also out for revenge.

Quantum of Solace is the first Bond film to be a direct sequel. It was essential to finish off what they started in Casino Royale, but here's the part where Quantum of Solace really disappoints in. The films script just isn't as interesting and satisfying as the one for Royale. It can also be somewhat complex to fully understand. I don't know who's idea was it to make M have way more lines than Bond when the film is clearly suppose to focus on him and his revenge. Quantum of Solace has a running time of about 1 hour and 40 Min's, making it the shortest Bond film in history. This isn't enough time to explain every little thing and just makes the film seem really cramped. Director Marc Forster is also part of the films problem. For Casino Royale, we had Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro) who is no stranger to action films since he has done some before. Campbell opted not to return for Quantum of Solace forcing Sony and MGM to go after another director such as Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland). The problem with Forster is that he hasn't directed any action films in the past. His movies although great, are mostly drama films. So the action scenes that we get in Solace are essentially chopping and badly edited. They are still pretty cool to watch, but just not as stable and impressive as the ones seen in Casino Royale. With all this said, Quantum of Solace can still be a somewhat entertaining film if you don't go in expecting a successor to Royale. Its got an intense car chase scene followed by good performances.

Daniel Craig returns once again as the famous MI6 agent, James Bond. He delivers a solid performance that is slightly better than the one he gave in Royale and one that fans are going to enjoy. I still prefer Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery as Bond since I enjoyed them alittle more, but Craig still delivers a good Bond. I just wish he had alittle more dialogue than M. Olga Kurylenko plays as Bond's female partner, Camille. She does a decent job here, but holds no candle to Eva Green's Vesper from Casino Royale. I'm also surprised on how Bond manages not to sleep with Kurylenko's character. I mean does that still make her a Bond girl? Mathieu Amalric plays as the main villain of the film, Dominic Greene. I don't know who decided to go with Amalric, but the guy seriously looks like a cat in many scenes. He just isn't as smart and convincing as Mads Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre. No offense to Mathieu Amalric, but I would have went with someone else. Judi Dench returns as M and shes really good in the film. Its nice to see her having more lines this time compared to Royale, but I don't know why she has more lines than Bond. She still delivers an M that we all know and love by now.

The visual look of Quantum of Solace is great. The film is on the same level if not better than that of Royales. The movie was filmed with mostly HD cameras resulting in a smooth image with hardly any film grain. Colors are vibrant and very pretty to look at. Their are a good amount of scenes that are outside mainly in the desert and these all pop with wonderful color saturation. Black levels are also very strong and hold up very well in some of the darker scenes. Flesh tones are spot on and also hold up pretty well. Detail is somewhat strong especially for a Bond film. It isn't as great as some other titles in the same genre, but its still very good. Close up shots show a good amount of detail on people's faces and is something worth watching for. Environments also look nicely detailed and are pretty to look at.

I thought the theme song in Casino Royale was pretty good, but just not right for a Bond film. The one we have for Quantum of Solace is simply atrocious. I have never heard a Bond theme this bad before. The song is sung by Jack White and Alicia Keys. The theme is just all over the place and never synchronized. Its like White is singing with Keys following through a second later. It also just has an annoying beat that doesn't come close to what a Bond song should sound like. The film also doesn't feature as much music or sound effects as Casino Royale did. That said, just like Royale, Quantum of Solace features a bombastic bass. Their are many sequences such as the car chase earlier on that just rumbles with good bass. Every gun shot is heard in crisp and clear sound. This is a good reference bass that should easily meet the expectations of those hardcore sound fanatics.

Quantum of Solace is a big disappointment compared to Casino Royale. The films writing just isn't as clever and interesting as it was in Royale. The films action scenes although cool, are very choppy and all over the place. They also made Bond too much like Jason Bourne. Bond is Bond and I hope the writers realize that for the next film. That said, the film is still somewhat entertaining. The cast is mostly great with almost everyone giving out solid performances. The visual look of the film is nicely cleaned and pretty darn detailed. The soundtrack is mixed bag with the film having a horrible theme song, but a damn well strong bass. In the end, I thought Quantum of Solace was a pretty good film, but just one that fell short of the great-ness of Casino Royale. The films run time just doesn't warrant enough time to do all these things. At least the story that started in Royale is finished so the next film can start from scratch. Fingers crossed for Q and his lovely gadgets in the next film.

Grade: C


Jaccstev said...

Good review Farzan..
I'm totally agree with you. One that I've missed to put on my own review and get reminded after read yours is I really didn't enjoy Alicia Keys and Jack White’s main theme “Another Way to Die”, which I felt was one of the weakest Bond themes around beside Madonna's "Die Another Day". And the villain in this film was lack of over-the-top ambition in threatening the world, which then made them look like small gangs operating for small gains instead.
What also a surprise is Olga Kurylenko who doesn’t drop her clothes here, she's just continuing the step of Michelle Yeoh who's got some action sequences dedicated to her, and the Bond girl that the womanizer spy doesn't bother to touch.

micky said...

your right again farzan, i really didnt like this movie. it was alright, but it could have been so much better

CruizD said...

Hey hey

Good review!

You highlighted some points I made and also made some other interesting observations I didn't make, but acknowledge as true nonetheless.

Farzan said...

Thanks, even though the theme song for Die Another Day sucked, I still liked it better than the one in Quantum of Solace. Maybe its just the beat

Thanks micky, the movie could have been better

Thanks Cruiz

David Bishop said...

After reading so much about how disappointing this movie would be, I went in with really low expectations. As a result, I ended up liking it quite a bit. I would have given it a B.

Oh, and I didn't like the new theme at all either.