HOLLYWOOD POV: "Quantum of Solace"

Filed in Gather Entertainment News Channel by on November 16, 2008 0 Comments

The first Bond film to continue a story line from a previous outing, and the 22nd James Bond film, QUANTUM OF SOLACE features a revengeful Bond with SpFx galore in an uneven and occasionally mumbled script with a bad guy who looks just like your nerdy friends from High School all dressed up in their Dad’s tux. Popular Frenchman Mathieu Amalric, might be a fine actor (check out his fine work in 2007’s
SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON aka DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY), but he is no evil-doing bad guy like the ones Bond has butted heads with in the past. Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved in 2006’s CASINO ROYALE, James Bond (Daniel Craig in his second appearance as Ian Fleming’s 007) is consumed with revenge and a deep cold anger. When Bond and M (Judi Dench ) interrogate Mr. White he reveals details about the secret organization that blackmailed Vesper, and they realize it is far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined.

Forensic intelligence links an Mi6 traitor to a bank account in Haiti where a case of mistaken identity introduces Bond to Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who has her own vendetta against the same people Bond is looking for. Camille leads Bond straight to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless business man and major force within the mysterious organization. Early on in the film M is attacked and Bond goes on the offensive to get the dastardly demons that invaded her office and almost succeeded in offing her.

On a mission that leads him to Austria, Italy, Russia, Haiti, and Bolivia, Bond discovers that Greene, conspiring to take total control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, is forging a deal with Camille’s target, the evil exiled General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio). Using his associates in the organization, while manipulating his contacts within the CIA and the British government, Greene promises to overthrow the existing regime in a Latin American country, giving the General control of the country in exchange for a seemingly barren piece of land.

Soon Mi6, following M’s command, brand Bond as a traitor that must be stopped and he goes on the run to avenge Vesper’s death, M’s attack, and his own life while he navigates a minefield of treachery, murder and deceit. Bond secretly allies with old friends like the CIA’s Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) in a battle to uncover the truth. As he gets closer to finding the man responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, 007 must keep one step ahead of the CIA, the terrorists and even M, to unravel Greene’s sinister plan and stop his organization.

Bond films transcend the usual and attract an audience that cuts through a wide swath of various demographics, and QUANTUM OF SOLACE is no different. Craig’s performance is full of revenge and a taut with-holding of emotion, and the audience is treated with only one topless Bond scene, darnit. The film is full of action set pieces that go quickly from one to the next, but the problem here is the director.

Marc Forster (MONSTER’S BALL, FINDING NEVERLAND, STRANGER THAN FICTION, THE KITE RUNNER) does well with stories with a wide scope and a detailed story, but he has not directed an action film before this and his lack of experience in the genre shows. Most of the fight and action choreography is shot in close-ups so the audience only gets to see the impact of a car smashing into a truck, or the impact of a fist striking a face. This means that Forster thought that the audience didn’t care to see the action, only the results of it. Forster should have shot wide masters of many of the action set pieces, but his shot choice in QUANTUM hints that he didn’t think, or plan, that far in advance. In addition, much of the dialog is mumbled and garbled making it impossible to understand much of what the actors are saying, especially the actors who don’t speak English as their first language… and there are many of those moments in QUANTUM.

While Bond theme songs usually garner an Academy nomination, the one here, Another Way to Die by the talented Alicia Keys and Jack White should not get a mention this year as it’s truly one of the worst Bond theme songs ever.

Of course there are some great set pieces, after all that’s what we expect from a Bond film.  The opening car chase through a busy narrow winding road in the hills traveling from Lake Garda to Sienna, Italy is breath-taking.

All in all, while QUANTUM OF SOLACE has some problems and doesn’t come close to the achievements of CASINO ROYALE, it’s still a dark and lively Bond film that still deserves to be seen on the big screen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2008 by Digital Dogs~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Digital Dogs rating: A-

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.

Running Times: 105 Minutes

Producers Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Andrew Noakes, Director Marc Forster, Screenplay Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis, from source material by Ian Fleming, DP Roberto Schaefer, Editor Matt Chesse, Richard G. Pearson, Music David Arnold, Actors Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Jesper Christensen, Mathieu Amalric, Jeffrey Wright, Gemma Arterton, Olga Kurylenko, Anatole Taubman, Joaquin Cosio, Tim Pigott-Smith

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Digital Dogs, Gather Movies Correspondent – Los Angeles
Digital Dogs’ column, HOLLYWOOD POV, published every Thursday to Gather Essentials: Movies is an insider’s look at the art, people, and product of Hollywood.

Digital Dogs is an opinionated writer, editor, and digital designer who lives and works in the Entertainment Capital of the world. DigiDogs’ unique reviews are usually written well before a film’s release date, and definitely worth the advance look at the films that influence the world.

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