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Quantum of Solace – Movie review

November 11, 2008

Being a die-hard Ian Fleming/James Bond fan, I am rather critical even of well-made Bond movies and this movie is no exception. And Quantum is certainly not the best of the Bonds.

To me to the James Bond movies have all been about subtle humour and the wit, and in fact the repartee between James and Miss Moneypenny is something I always looked forward to. I also prefer a slower pace (for the Bond movies) and like to watch the plot thickening and the action building up. The villians are also important. Remember Jack Spang (Diamonds are Forever) and Gold finger? Well, the villian in Quantum of Solace, the international businessman Dominic Greene, falls quite flat. Not in terms of acting, as Mathieu Amalric does a great job of being and acting evil – in fact I have yet to see a cinematic villain who appears so ordinary but is able to exude evil. It was the character of Greene which fails to make an impact…

This film is also moves too fast…so fast that one needs to have superhuman vision to follow the action sequences. I also confess I didn’t understand the plot fully. I think it is difficult for the average viewer to figure out what’s happening. In fact, this movie is being compared to the Bourne movies and has actually been called The Bond Identity but well, The Bourne Identity is a better movie, with a an intriguing plot which I could follow easily…maybe because I had read the novel.

The plot (no spoilers)
The plot in Quantum, if one manages to follow it there and then, is all about a businessman plotting to get rich at the expense of the poor masses and about a corrupt general in Bolivia willing to sell out his people. As for our double-o-seven, he seems less bothered about saving the world and more concerned about taking revenge for the death of his girl-friend Vesper, who was killed in the previous Bond movie, Casino Royale. And as for “M” she has a bigger role in this movie but seems to be out of sync with what Bond is doing, a little odd considering that he is a favourite agent whom she understands so well.

The actors and characters
I was impressed with Daniel Craig. He does a great job and has the Bond look – a combination of wickedness and kindness. Two things are missing, which I feel are important to the character of Bond. One is the humour. Even “M” was funnier than him! And there is also his lack of bonding with the women… a complete lack of chemistry. James is supposed to be flirtatious, but that doesn’t come through in this movie. Well, I have no problem if the director has deviated from the original Bond character, but that is not the impression one gets. One feels that he is indeed trying to make Bond come across as Bond.

No James Bond movie is complete without its beautiful women. And there are two here… Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who has the big role. However her backstory seems cliched. She is hobnobbing with villain Greene, and right from the start James seems interested in her…but it is never explained as to why. Maybe it is because James feels that she can help him or because she is beautiful or because he has a kind heart and wants to “rescue” her. Who knows.

The other pretty woman in the film, Agent Fields (Gemma Arterton) has a bit role and again, no chemistry between her and Craig.

Okay, if this seems as I am tearing the movie to shreds, that isn’t the case. The movie is tightly edited, well-directed and entertaining. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and now am certainly a Craig fan. I guess one should not compare this movie to the best of Bond, and one should go with an open mind and then one can enjoy it.

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2008 10:56 am

    I watched it First Day, First Show!! Awesome movie! I loved it! I’ve watched every bond movie that’s been released at least thrice… Dad has all the old ones in the VHS format at home, I’m gonna convert them to a DVD… :D
    This movie was particularly good because all those unanswered questions in Casino Royale have been answered! :D

    Well I do love the bond franchise too…but for me the questions were not answered. It was never clear to me why he changes his mind later about the revenge. It felt as if the director just used the revenge thing as a plot ploy. – Nita.

  2. November 11, 2008 11:37 am

    I watched it yesterday !!

    Not so good as comapred to Casino Royale ..

    It’s a movie not about Bond’s mission to save the world but it’s about his vengeance and vendetta .. So the whole motto and thus the attitude of Bond has changed .. So that makes the movie dull and boring at times ..

    No powerful cars .. no powerful gadgets .. no heart-breaking stunts .. and even no good chicks ..

    I hope these statements make the story clear !

    You have put it well Soham. I forgot to mention that – no powerful gadgets!!! A Bond movie without gadgets is pheeka!! – Nita.

  3. November 11, 2008 12:22 pm

    @ Nita : I agree with you about the pace of the action sequences and the weak story. I also agree about Ms. Money Penny. I also missed Q. What I do not like though as well is ‘James Blond’. Bond is supposed to be tall, dark and handsome! I also do not quite like his accent and his way of speaking. Doing away with the charming part was perhaps not a good idea. Although if you like your bond dark, murderous and brutal sure he has done that part well.

    I didn’t mind the blond Bond but if you ask me, Brosnan is still my favourite. He had that roghish twinkle in his eyes that I thought was so Bondish! – Nita.

  4. November 11, 2008 12:39 pm

    @ Nita

    Bond returns to his roots with CR and QOS and from your review and from the comments on my post and Quirky Indian’s, I see that the gap between expectation of cliches and non-delivery is too huge for audiences. Sadly the point that these films are a cinematic flashback, albeit updated for modern times and modern mores of inter-gender relationships, is sort of lost. I think more is the pity, for Daniel Craig is a much preferable sort of man than the misogynists earlier.

    Shefaly, I got the point about the modern mores very well as I think that was in our faces, but stubborn me says why can’t Bond be a charming flirt without being a misogynist? It is possible I think. And also I believe that characters are grey creatures, and it is possible for a man to have an abnoxious wicked quality and yet be a cinematic hero. In fact when I was a teen I used to fantasize about how Bond would try and charm me and how I would reject him!! That sort of would give me a sense of power! :) – Nita.

  5. November 11, 2008 12:46 pm

    I think Craig definitely has the chops to be Bond.

  6. November 11, 2008 3:08 pm

    Compared to Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan was better (Though former is not bad either)
    I didn’t like the previous flick “Casino Royal”, and not made any plan yet for “Quantum of solace”

  7. November 11, 2008 3:11 pm

    I watched the movie, first day, and I was frankly disappointed. I expected a better plot for a Bond movie, and felt that other than the car chase in the beginning, nothing in fact translated into Bond!

    The actors acted well, did their part well, but the story was just plain missing.

  8. Vipul permalink
    November 11, 2008 3:44 pm

    Nita – Another disappointing part: Bond movies are always supposed to have 2 women – the good and the bad. No sexy vamp in this one :(

  9. November 11, 2008 4:13 pm

    frankly speaking i dont like james bond movies… but i liked pierce brosnan (I hope i have spelt his name correctly!! ;) ) and thats the only reason i have watched a movie earlier…

    I am not planning to see this one… :)

  10. November 11, 2008 4:46 pm

    lol :) I agree with you on most of it :) But Craig looked dead to me in certain places… :)

  11. November 11, 2008 7:50 pm

    I dont like Craig so no QOS for me. I havent seen CR yet!

  12. November 11, 2008 8:48 pm

    wow!! I cant wait to watch this movie.

    I did not really like Daniel in Casino Royale although he did a pretty good job. To me, Bond = Pierce Brosnan.

    And to my dad, Bond = Sean Connery……and no one else!!! He has watched all Bond movies and absolutely loves them all !!

    But you’re right. Daniel has those wicked/seductive looks. (but he doesnt match up to Pierce in my opinion :D )

  13. November 11, 2008 9:29 pm

    Nandu, yeah 80 percent! :)

    Vivek Mittal, I prefer Brosnan too! But if you like fast paced action movies where the story doesn’t matter, you will like this one.

    Aathira, I agree. In fact I didn’t what the story was!

    Vipul, Camille was quite alright I think but yeah, she was the good one! :) There should have been more, bad or good doesn’t matter. I always like movies with a couple of women characters with significant roles.

    Sakhi, I am surprised to see so many people liking Brosnan! I guess he isn’t just Bond to many. In fact I used to like him since his Remington Steele days.

    Vishesh, I know what you mean! :) A piece of meat. ;)

    Reema, if you don’t like Craig, keep away from this one!

    snippetsnscribbles, me too thinks that its Brosnan with the wicked seductive looks! And no way does he match up to Brosnan. In fact until Brosnan became Bond, it was Sean Connery who was my favourite Bond. However I think Craig is good too. Only thing is he lacks the warmth and humour of Brosnan…but I think its something to do with the director too/

  14. Fox permalink
    November 11, 2008 11:42 pm

    First of all we have to keep in mind that its a reboot so its not right to compare Bond portrayed by the first 5 actors with Craig’s Bond.I loved the way Connery did it but after CR i prefer Craig.To me Brosnan’s Bond was little boring compared to Connery’s and Dalton’s.He had the style but something was missing.Probably its the effect of watching Sean Connery’s 007 movies so many times.I watched QOS on the first day.Though the story was a little draggy in the middle i liked the entire package.But i was expecting the famous gun barrel sequence in the beginning.If you ask me whether its CR or QOS i would say CR.I think i expected more in QOS.

  15. November 12, 2008 12:52 am

    @Reema and @Sakhi:

    Craig is not that bad as a bond .. He acts well and he looks well while posing as 007 – bond ..

    You must at least give it a try .. U will like him !!

  16. November 12, 2008 1:45 am

    I never liked the bond movies because they are so unreal, and doesn’t affected me as a viewer. After a good tightly plotted casino royale(I also liked Daniel Craig) I expected something similar in this film but they made it as a run-of-a-mill bond film :( So I am going to give a miss for this one.

  17. November 12, 2008 7:31 am

    Well, it only gets released in the coming weekend in US. But I haven’t heard a bit of good review till now. Well, I did not like Casino Royale either :D I am not a great “bond” fan!! But will watch it for all the hoopla! :D

  18. Joss permalink
    November 12, 2008 7:01 pm

    Oy oy oy … you Indians are so knowledgable! You know all the Bollywood films and all the Hollywood ones too. And then there are all the languages.

    I’m afraid I have never been to see a Bond movie, as I’m just not a fan. So, neither has my 11 yr old son. He has, however, seen Dhoom and Dhoom 2 and Main Hoon Na. We much prefer action heroes who can sing and dance as well as fight!

  19. November 12, 2008 9:29 pm

    hm,”appears ordinary..but exudes evil”??
    ..if smebdy managed to do em>that
    in the film, am going. to watch it. was dragging feet coz of such bad boring review. urs was inspiring :)) thanks.

  20. November 12, 2008 9:49 pm

    I have not seen the earlier one too :-/ :(
    will watch it soon :)

  21. November 14, 2008 12:21 am

    I am yet to watch Casino Royale. I have very long Backlog of movies to watch. So sounds like I hve to watch CR first and then watch QS. As for Villians, the one in Firewall was very good. A normal looking male, yet very evil!

  22. November 15, 2008 9:29 am

    I liked Casino Royale but now I am thinking of giving it a miss. Many people are saying that there is nothing “Bond” about it.

    Amit, if you are a Bond fan, don’t miss this movie. It’s actually very enjoyable and the movie is well made. – Nita.

  23. November 16, 2008 1:02 am

    Nita, I watched this movie last night and didn’t really like it much. I enjoyed the action packed scenes and the cool gadgets on display, but the movie lacked a basic story line…maybe it was way too fast for my taste. I managed to fall asleep somewhere towards the end too. Maybe because I went for a 10 pm show :) But overall, I wouldn’t give it more than a 5.5/10.

    Ruhi, if you gave this movie 5.5 then you would give Dostana 0. :) – Nita

  24. November 16, 2008 12:19 pm

    Oh God :) Now that is something! Let me update you after I’m done watching that disaster. I feel like watching it just for the kick.

  25. November 17, 2008 1:56 am

    Quantum of Solace is entertaining at least… a lot of high quality visuals, but the movie as a whole could stand to lose six or seven fewer chase scenes

  26. greg clark permalink
    December 2, 2008 6:28 am

    Hi Nita, I happened across your website and thought drop in a few comments from a British perspective about Quantum of Solace. In Britain DanielCraig is almost universally being seen as the best Bond since Sean Connery (Im in Glasgow , Scotland) . Brosnan was too smooth and slick, his humour and that of Roger Moores had transformed the character of Bond into something a unbelievable cartoon type character. Craigs has made him real and human again.

    While I agree there are far too many action scenes I do think this was one fo the best Bond movies for a long time. I think this is because this mission is not about governments but is personal to Bond as tries to avenge is lovers death (in casino royale) and come to terms with her betrayal of him.

    I think this makes Bond more human than he has been in long time and rather than always being in contol he seems like a man on the edge and this adds drama.

    I think you miss the point when you say it was not explained why he did not carry out the revenge. Bond is first and foremost a member of the British Secret service . He is meant to fight for truth and justice deceny and democracy and the rule of law, for him to carry out his revenge would mean he had become no better than thugs and criminals he brings to justice.

    He threatens to do this and effectively leaves the service and has essentially “lost it” Of course he has a licence to kill when ordered however to kill this man would have been personal and vengeful and instead of being a top secret agent he has become a common vigilante and one of the the mob.. His choice not to lill him int he end is his is his moral victory. He has proven better than that and the criminals he pursues. He has in effect found his Quantum of Solace or his peace of mind..

    Because he did so he is ready to rejoin the secret service and is a better more discplined and smarter agent for it. In effect he is no longer just a junior agent . He has endured the greatest of trials and conquered his demons. He is now Bond 007 the greatest and toughest agent in the service.

    best Greg

  27. January 3, 2009 12:02 am

    Without a doubt, Connery & Brosnan were the gold standard of Bond & my darkest days where during Moore’s farcical portrayal of our favorite 00. So I am pre-disposed not to accept Craig as a bone fide replacement. But even in both movies, Craig is not the problem, the producers & directors are. OK. Perhaps my last comments were really a review of Casino not having seen QoS. Now I have seen it and there are so many problems with it I do not know where to begin. All the chases are herky, jerky, shaky staccato film clips. You can never really see what is going on. This is contrary to the traditional Bond flick replete with detail. And if Craig is gritty, moody, mean & vindictive one can still see a path by which he becomes a cooler if not a cold, uber-professional agent with a dry, sardonic sense of humor. This Bond clearly appeals to a feminine perspective that escapes me. I understood him not becoming ‘involved’ with the other women in the 2 flicks as having high standards and was at least relieved to see his response to Fields as, what we would term a normal orientation! (The women seem to love that Bond does NOT ‘hook up’ with the main girl in either film and broods ceaselessly like a forlorn Hamlet for his unrequited lover from Casino). Even the opening chase, usually one of the best, is almost visually incomprehensible. Car chase, rooftop chase, sewer chase, apartment knife fight chase, boat chase, plane chase, Chase-Morgan, certainly they all were purloined from the Bourne genre but somehow Bourne’s were more believable.

    The opening graphics were not as bad as I feared, but were definitely not 007 quality. Far too much of Craig shooting his Walther PPK .380; (don’t make me go into why that is a problem). We have grown accustomed to the sultry, sexual/sensual and awesome graphical intro to the Bond films. This one was not of the same caliber. Ditto on the theme song. It was not a good as past songs but I was fearing worse and it was actually passable relating somewhat to the general theme of the film. The barrel scene was placed at the end of the film. I prefer the beginning but in either case it should be presented with high quality graphics and punctuated with 007 theme song riffs. It was not.

    Lots of chases. Most are barely watchable. I actually liked the reference to the traditional 13th century Italian Palio horse race in which the riders can use their longer wooden canes to encourage their steeds or discourage their opponents; and the actual event was supposed to be occurring outside of the chase area.

    The knife fight was lame. How did the baddie die anyhow? Please tell me not with the little pair of cuticle scissors Bond had. And if the death blow was to the only wounded area shown, the left jugular, where did all the blood go as Bond let him ‘bleed out’. Not to worry the details because we are soon introduced to THE BOND GIRL. Well, a little anti-climatic because she is not quite as attractive as we are used to although she has very pretty lips. The rest of her seems strangely disproportionate for some reason. It’s also strange that she would return to the baddie who just tried to have her whacked. That has little probability for success for someone who we later learn is “Bolivian Secret Service”. Oh well, not to worry, we are off on another chase, this time with boats. It is perhaps the best done but for the last scene in which the grappling hook is somehow thrown onto the rubber speed boat and flips it from the front of Bond’s boat over the top to the rear…… can’t quite figure the physics out on that one. Not to worry, we’ve docked and Bond mysteriously hands the unconscious maiden who he has just rescued over to a dock attendant…what?

    Well were off to track this baddie and somehow reconnected with the GIRL in Bolivia where we eventually learn that the baddie, Mr. Greene of the evil Greene corporation in conjunction with the even eviler Quantum Criminal Consortium LLC has concocted a plot wreaking with the venom of true corporate greed, evil capitalism and nefarious financier-ship; to wit, steal all the fresh water in where? Why Bolivia of course and sell it back to them Bolivians at double the price! MUAHHAHAHAHAHA (evil laugh). We learn at a big party that times are tough in Bolivia because it is costing a weeks wages for an average Bolivian to buy a gallon of clean water! As I remember, the average Bolivian earns about $0.25 per day making the water cost about $1.75 a gallon; pretty much on par with market values in Cleveland. Perhaps this is not the best country for our get richer quicker scheme.

    No matter, we are off to the evil opera where the evil baddies are meeting to plan, well, evil. This is where we juxtapose a modernistic version of the Tosca operatic bloodshed whilst Bond dabbles in the real thing dispatching the body guards of the evil biggies who, now discovered & uncovered, are making a hasty retreat for the exits faster than attendees at an Al Gore speech.

    No matter, while in Bolivia we are matroned by the closest thing to a real Bond girl, agent Fields. Unfortunately we never really figure out what is beneath that trenchcoat although it appears that Bond does. Also unfortunately for Fields and us, she is quickly eliminated by the baddies in what can only be termed as a ‘crude’ theft of the Goldfinger modus operandi. I would have expected more of a mess but why waste camera time on the slickened Fields when you can spend it on bathroom scenes with….who else….M of course. Perhaps the most difficult what seemed to be15 minutes of the film (as if minutes were hours Mr. Spock) was watching M in her bathrobe apply & remove cold creme. The threat itself would have sent Mr. Greene permanently into pro bono philanthropy. Not finished with us yet, M draws her bath and the tension in the theater built noticeably as we all began to fear that we would be greeted with an au natural scene of her slipping out of the robe into the tub. Fortunately we were spared that experience (wait for the unedited version coming to DVD soon!). However, it just calls into question what fob with a mommy complex of some sort is calling the shots in these films.

    M continues to demonstrate why she should not be “M” vacillating from suspecting Bond to needing him back in 00 some 4-5 times during the movie. We did get a glimpse into the possible personality of M’s hubby when he meekly announced, “the calls for you dear on your private line”. Whatever.

    M may welcome Bond back with open arms or have him captured or killed, no matter, the BOND GIRL is rescuing Bond in her getaway car, a 1964 VW Beetle. I guess the Bolivian Secret Service does not get to roll like the 00’s in MI6. At least it was a 40HP!

    No matter. We are now off to a hotel in the middle of a high plains Bolivian desert. Time to charter a plane…no, not the little Beachcraft Bonanza that would actually be faster and more maneuverable. Choose the DC-3 with a load of cargo on board. Watch out though, you’ll get shot down by the Bolvian Air Force in a single engine Marchetti SIA1 (which I have been corrected on and is a fast little number) I guess the BAF doesn’t get to roll like the 00’s at MI6 either.

    No matter because they are both jumping out of that crate with the only parachute. Somehow everything turns out ok after wrestling for 10,000 feet with the BOND GIRL & parachute falling at 120 MPH because the chute opens 20 feet off of our LZ, a nice big soft slab of granite. BTW, the BOND GIRL walks for miles on granite stones in her bare feat…she’s a hearty lass.

    It’s off the hotel to find the baddies. The hotel, located in the high plains desert of Bolivia, is called the Plaza del Sol. It is completely self-sufficient and powered by…solar….no you idiot, hydrogen fuel cells. In fact, each room appears to have its own hydrogen fuel cell and its accompanying hydrogen supply tank. The maids must make your bed and refill your hydrogen tank when they replace the shampoo in the bath, I guess. Naturally the hotel, located in the high plains Bolivian desert is made substantially of steel & stone. Unfortunately, the steel & stone in Bolivia is not quite as durable as the steel & stone you and I have grown to love as we discover when Bond causes a baddie car to crash through a wall igniting a hydrogen tank. The rest of the hydrogen tanks ignite sequentially. Darn it, I hate when that happens, you just can’t get good hydrogen tanks anymore. Again, unfortunately, the Bolivian steel & stone burns more like paper mache. Bond battles the Greene baddie but aborts to rescue the BOND GIRL who is caught up in her own subplot vendetta too trite to be explained here. Mr. Greene escapes into the desert only to meet a cryptic fate induced by other unknown baddies and Bond’s 10W-40 payback for the treatment of luscious Agent Fields.

    You would be better off waiting for this to hit DVD. At least then you can slo-mo or replay the chase scenes making sense of them, spend more time with the slick Agent Fields and most importantly, FFW or skip over M’s bathroom escapades. You have been warned.

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