johnlink ranks QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)

Back to Bond. Revisiting CASINO ROYALE reminded me just how wonderful an entry that was. I remember very little about QUANTUM OF SOLACE, other than the fact that it ended in a desert with plenty of explosions. But with SKYFALL crashing into theaters this weekend, it was time to remember the rest of the story leading in. Unimportant to our conversation: This is movie number 477 for this project, and I’ve finally reviewed something which starts with ‘Q’.

I watched QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) on 11.10.12. It was my second viewing of the film, and first since seeing it in theaters.

Where CASINO ROYALE made a great effort to distance itself from Bond films of the past, QUANTUM OF SOLACE is interested in embracing its history. This is sometimes done with a nice touch, like the Bond girl who gets killed by being doused in oil in a faithful re-imagining of the girl who was killed using gold in GOLDFINGER. Sometimes this is done in a more clunky way, like the clichéd villains’ lair at the end of the film.

While I enjoy watching this, and I enjoy the experience, I can’t help but feel somewhat let down when watching it on the heels of the superior CASINO ROYALE. The first fifteen minutes of QUANTUM OF SOLACE contains exactly one short scene of dialogue. Apparently, the critics and fans who vocalized loudly their displeasure with the methodical pacing of CASINO had their voices heard. QUANTUM begins with an intense car chase. Gun fire, death, explosions, nifty camera work, quick editing. Next is a torture scene which feels the need to have characters speak to each other (for some reason), then we are back to a foot chase. Jumping, shooting, falling, breaking glass, guns, stunts, death.

I’m not here to bash chases, or to suggest action does not belong in, you know, action movies. But I will say that my personal taste is for character and plot creating action, rather than a chase being placed in a film for the purpose of pleasing people who need more fast cars. QUANTUM OF SOLACE has more dialogue-free action than CASINO ROYALE, and the film is nearly 40 minutes shorter. Craig, as Bond, comes out just fine. We already know him. His character doesn’t need establishing. Giancarlo Giannini and Judi Dench are utilized well because, again, we know them. But the villains are weak and limp. By making Dominic Greene so obviously a puppet for a larger organization  this  movie intrenches itself as a prequel to a third film. We know, fairly quickly, that bigger things are afoot. We don’t need to get to know these folks, because they won’t be here long. It is a classic case of treating a movie like a piece of a series rather than its own entity.

Again, the action is satisfactory, and Craig does not hurt his place as the best Bond since Connery. I’d still watch this over the Brosnan stuff, to be sure. While some were frustrated with the ’70s-slow’ pacing of CASINO ROYALE, that was one of its biggest assets. We finally got to know Bond as a man again. QUANTUM OF SOLACE has its moments of that, but they are fleeting. And they feel like filler until people get to shoot each other again.

I know there are people out there who will say that a Bond movie is supposed to be nothing more than action anyway, and CASINO got in its own way. To those people, I would argue that Connery is widely considered to be the best Bond there is. And if you go back and watch GOLDFINGER or DR. NO, you realize that the action heightened the characters. The characters were not there merely to serve as catalysts for action. The story was important (usually) in those older films. I guess that’s all I’m getting at. I’d like to feel like the movie respects its own story.

I was surprised to see this was directed by the man who did MONSTER’S BALL, FINDING NEVERLAND, and THE KITE RUNNER (Marc Forster). Perhaps he felt like he had gotten the drama out of his system, and he wanted to launch into something less heady. It makes me worry about his upcoming WORLD WAR Z. He is a man who has proved himself to be a very good director in his smaller films. I hope he can find that balance in his larger films.





~ by johnlink00 on November 11, 2012.

3 Responses to “johnlink ranks QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)”

  1. It’s notable that the film suffered from being completed about 2 hours before the 2007 Writer’s Guild strike, so that could account for the lack of character development beyond Bond’s own. I like “Quantum” as a sort of stylish “Casino Royale” epilogue, but I agree — it pales in comparison to that, as well as “Skyfall.” I’m anxious to see what they’ll do with Bond 24, however, and how exactly this Quantum organization will possibly fit in!

    • Great point about the writer’s strike. We tend to forget just how large an impact that had on the film world (and how many reality shows were spawned because of it). Heck, the writer’s strike was one of the major reasons I chose to leave Los Angeles!

      • I should probably clarify — the SCRIPT was completed, not the film 😉 I’m sure it was obvious what I meant, though!

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