Marc Forster, 2008
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Giancarlo Giannini, Mathieu Almaric, Judi Dench, Gemma Arterton
I realize a lot of people dislike Quantum of Solace. It certainly suffers from the sophomore blues and never would have been able to live up to the expectations established in Casino Royale. Regardless of its many problems, the fact remains that it is a Daniel Craig Bond film and for that reason alone is enjoyable and entertaining. Craig is a capable actor and is nearly able to carry this film on his own. The screenwriters must also be given an “A” for effort - they attempted the series’ only continuous film. Most Bonds are episodic, with occasional references to previous events, but Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale. Unfortunately the plot is messy and complicated, but there are some lovely set pieces and action sequences. The story is not a Fleming original, but the title is taken from the short story collection For Your Eyes Only.
Bond has captured the elusive Mr. White and is taking him for interrogation. On the way he gets into a fabulous car chase, where they put the poor Aston Martin through the ringer. Mr. White reveals there is a traitor in their midst, placed by the Quantum organization. It turns out to be M's private bodyguard and more gunfire and chasing ensues. Bond, spurned on by Vesper's death and M's near assassination, becomes obsessed with tracking down the Quantum organization. He is led to Dominic Greene (the fabulous Mathieu Almaric) who he tracks through the tropics, Switzerland, South America and the desert of Bolivia. He crosses paths with Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a Bolivian seeking revenge against the general who tortured and killed her family, leaving her for dead with her house burning down around her. Bond is forced to go renegade and convinces Matthis (Giancarlo Giannini) to join his crusade in South America. He also runs into CIA agent Felix Leiter. There are too many characters and sub-plots running around in the film, but everything comes together in a fiery showdown in the Bolivian desert.
The odd thing about Quantum of Solace, something that kind of works, but is never really aloud to stand on its own legs, is that there is a rape-revenge subplot. Bond is getting revenge for Vesper’s death (and later the deaths of others), but Camille is getting revenge for the rapes and murders of her mother and sister. Considering the double revenge plot, the absence of humor and lack of romance, the film is darker and more emotionally ambiguous than previous efforts. Gone is the fun, "shaken, not stirred" Bond; in Quantum of Solace he only drinks to him forget. The violence quotient has also increased. Bond leaves a trail of beaten, broken, shot and stabbed bodies in his wake, throwing caution, reason and rules to the wind. He gets several people killed and is utterly reckless in his pursuit of vengeance. Traditionally Bond is more of a strategist than a fighter, dodging blows and battles with gadgets and clever planning. This film solidifies the fact that Daniel Craig's Bond owes more to Steve McQueen than Sean Connery.
Craig is just as good in the film as he was in Casino Royale. Also as with that film, the entire supporting cast is great. Kurylenko is appropriately fiery and I actually believed (briefly) that she's Bolivian and not Ukrainian. Her desperate independence and self-destructive revenge quest give this flawed film slightly more of an emotional backbone. Almaric is a surprising choice for a villain, but he pulls it off with plenty of charm and sleaze. And I will always love Giancarlo Giannini. The real problem with these roles is the script, which becomes a confused mess very rapidly. Dominic Green’s aims are silly. Similar to The World is Not Enough, he stages a coup in Bolivia so that he can monopolize the water supply (in the previous film it is oil). This overshadows Bond’s attempts to seek out Quantum to the film’s detriment. Like Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, Green is not a strong enough or memorable villain to carry the second half of the film on his shoulders, which he is essentially forced to do.
Quantum is still worth watching, despite its flaws. The DVD I’m reviewing is the two-disc special edition. The second disc has a reasonable amount of special features, mostly interviews and featurettes about locations, action sequences, etc. It seemed a little paltry to actually require a second disc. There is also a single disc version available and a Blu-ray.