MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Quantum of Solace’

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: October 29, 2008
DIRECTOR: Marc Forster
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roberto Schaefer
WRITERS: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
MUSIC: David Arnold

Daniel Craig returns in his second outing as James Bond 007 in “Quantum of Solace”. This time around, Bond must uncover a plot being carried out by the shadowy organization known as Quantum. The organization was only hinted about in “Casino Royale”. Meanwhile, 007 must also fight back the urge to go on a revenge mission of his own to avenge his lost love, Vesper.

First things first. Does this film live up to the standards set in “Casino Royale”? Unfortunately, no. The film, however, is a classic Bond adventure that is in the same vein as “Dr. No” and “From Russia with Love”. The film has also got some very good action sequences and it was good to see Bond acting more like a spy in some sequences of the film.

Craig is the best part of the film. He continues playing Bond as an agent that is vulnerable and does not mind getting bloody while being more humorous in this film than his last outing, if only slightly. There is one simple moment with a motorcycle that I think will go down as a classic Bond moment.

Then there are the supporting characters. Judi Dench returns as M and some of the best personal scenes in the film are between her and Craig. Dench always worked well with Pierce Brosnan during his time as Bond, but the chemistry between her and Craig is far superior as she continues to play the tough leader of the “00″ branch and the tough maternal figure and mentor to Bond.

Olga Kurylenko plays Bond girl Camille and her story helps enhance Bond’s own revenge story. It was also good to see Jeffrey Wright back as Felix Leiter and I wish there could have been more screen time for him since his character is also going through his own personal conflict with the CIA.

Earlier, I mentioned that this film is not as superior as “Casino Royale”. This is because, during some sequences, it felt to me that director Marc Forster wanted to make a Jason Bourne movie instead of a Bond film. He uses the handycam technique mastered in the Bourne films and does not do a very good job utilizing it and you end up getting a headache instead of being thrilled by some of the action sequences.

Granted, I love the Bourne films, but they are not Bond movies. Also, Mathieu Almaric plays the main villain of the piece. While I am sure that he is a talented actor in France, he is not suited to be a maniacal villain in this film. He spends most of his time in the film bugging out his eyes while trying to look evil and ends up coming off as slightly goofy instead.

On one last minor note, the theme song for “Quantum of Solace”, written and performed by Jack White and Alicia Keyes, does not live up to the previous themes in past Bond films. Now, one should not look so harshly on White or Keyes considering that they were last minute replacements for Amy Winehouse who was set to come up with the theme but eventually had to drop out.

Anyway, despite all of the problems I had with the film, the Bond fan in me won out and I was thoroughly entertained by the end of the film. Granted, it did not live up to the bar set by “Casino Royale”, but that movie had already set the bar pretty high and I still think that “Quantum of Solace” got more right than wrong. If you liked the earlier ‘60s Bond films, then I feel you will be entertained by this latest entry in the 46-year-old franchise.

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