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Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace

Released: November 14, 2008

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Quantum of Solace
J-Records (88697-37089-2)

Released: October 28, 2008

Format: CD (61 min)

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (Blu-ray)

by Dan Goldwasser
on March 23rd, 2009
[3.5 / 5] printable

After rebooting the James Bond franchise in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig is back with the next chapter in the series- Quantum of Solace.  The oddly titled film starts off literally minutes after the end of Casino Royale, making it the first Bond film to be a direct sequel instead of just another adventure.  In this film, Bond starts to investigate the mysterious organization that had blackmailed Vesper Lynd, and discovers a more sinister plot at work. The Quantum organization - led by environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) - is planning to stage a coup in Bolivia in order to take over the water supply. M (Judy Dench) doesn't approve of Bond's investigative methods (usually resulting in a high body count) and when an advisor to the British Prime Minister is killed, she orders him taken into custody.  Bond goes off the grid, and with the help of Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and the CIA's Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) gets to the bottom of the Quantum matter.  Along the way, he teams up with Greene's ex-lover Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) as both are seeking revenge and their goals are similar.

The biggest problem with Quantum of Solace is that it doesn't really fit the tone set in Casino Royale.  Bond is stuck perpetually in "sulking revenge mode", and there isn't much of an arc to his character.  He doesn't even sleep with Camille, making her one of the rare Bond girls who doesn't actually become Bond's girl.  Director Marc Forster tries his best to eek out some emotion from the characters, but it doesn't succeed as well as Martin Campbell's direction in Casino Royale.  The action sequences are really well staged and exciting, but are diminished by second unit director Dan Bradley's shakey-cam shooting that makes it feel more like a Bourne film than a Bond film. The fast-cutting doesn't help either, and sometimes it's just too confusing to tell what the heck is going on.  Given the way the film is structured (and how short it is), it works best as the final act of Casino Royale - making it an actually pretty solid 4.2-hour long experience.  But seen independently, Quantum of Solace is not one of the strongest Bond films, and coming off the high of Casino Royale, it can be seen as a bit of a letdown.

Released as a single-disc Blu-ray, Quantum of Solace sports an excellent film transfer.  Colors are solid but not oversaturated, and contrast is deep.  Film grain is subtle and adds a nice quality to the image.  The audio is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio, and is a reference quality, gut-punching track.  It will give your subwoofer a nice workout, while providing a wholly immersive experience with crystal clear fidelity.  Additional languages include Spanish, French and Brazilian Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital.

For special features, Quantum of Solace has a fine spattering of extras that delve into the filmmaking process - but not in the truly in-depth way of previous Bond "special editions".  Starting with the Jack White/Alicia Keys music video for (what I feel is one of the worst Bond songs in years) "Another Way to Die" (HD, 4.5-minutes), we quickly move on to "Bond on Location" (HD, 25-minutes) is a nice look at the production of Quantum of Solace, with interviews by all of the principle filmmakers and actors, and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. The obvious focus is the location shooting of the film and the various countries they shot in. 

A flurry of short featurettes are presented: "Start of Shooting" (HD, 3-minutes) is a quick look at the first days of production.  "On Location" (HD, 3-minutes) is a quick look at the film's variety of locations (kind of a fluffy piece in comparison to the "Bond on Location" featurette).  "Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase" (HD, 2-minutes) is a quick look at Olga's experience preparing for an action scene. "Director Marc Forster" (HD, 3-minutes) is a quick featurette looking at director Marc Forster's experience and challenges working on the film.  Lastly, "The Music" (HD, 3-minutes) is a quick chat with composer David Arnold about the score to the film, and shows him composing as well as scoring with the orchestra. It also looks at the "Another Way to Die" song with Jack White and Alicia Keys.  The problem with all of these is that they skim the surface of what could have (or should have) been presented, and it feels like there will be a double-dip in the future.

"Crew Files" (HD, 45.5-minutes) is a compilation of thirty-four "profiles" on a variety of crew members that were from the official website. These quick video podcasts are strung together (or viewed separately) and give you a nice tease about what some of the more obscure crew members actually do. It's interesting, shows some great behind-the-scenes and making-of material, and actually would make a nice solid documentary if re-edited into a proper feature.  Finally, the original theatrical teaser and trailer (HD) are included.

No commentary track or really in-depth making-of tells me that there is likely going to be another version of Quantum of Solace to hit Blu-ray in the coming years.  It's a film that is more enjoyable the second time (once you know the flaws and limitations) and looks great on Blu-ray.  It might be worth picking up for now, since it makes one heck of a home theater demo, but don't be surprised if you have to spring for a more feature-loaded version down the road.

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

by Dan Goldwasser
on November 12th, 2008
[3 / 5] printable

2006 brought us a reboot of the James Bond franchise. Surpassing most expectations, Casino Royale was a surprise at how exciting it made a game of poker, but also helped to bring Bond back to basics, and through Daniel Craig, show us how Bond became the Bond that we all know.  The next Bond film, Quantum of Solace, would be the first Bond film to pick up where the previous one had left off.  At the end of Casino Royale, Bond discovered that his (now deceased) lover Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) had betrayed him and used the winnings from the tournament to save her kidnapped boyfriend who was being held hostage by a mysterious terrorist organization.  The film ended with Bond seeking out Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), the man who last had the money, and shooting him in the leg.

Quantum of Solace continues the storyline, with Bond taking Mr. White into custody for interrogation. From there, we learn that the (never-identified) terrorist organization is much bigger than anyone knew, and they have people everywhere.  M (Judi Dench) is shocked at the size of the organization (which we learn is called "Quantum").  As Bond struggles to come to terms with Vesper's death, he also tries to solve the mystery of why she betrayed him and MI6.  His leads point to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), the philanthropic head of an environmental company that has a devious plan to destabilize Bolivia through a coup d'etat. Bond's journey takes him to Haiti, Austria, Italy and Bolivia, leaving a rather large body count along the way (much to M's shagrin).  He encounters some new faces: Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) is Greene's girlfriend, who has a vendetta against a Bolivian general, MI6 Agent Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) who works at the British Consulate in Bolivia, and Elvis (Anatole Taubman), Greene's second-in-command.

Quantum of Solace was directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner), and is a decent film. The action sequences are inventive and interesting, and there are more than a few passing nods to previous Bond films (including a great Goldfinger moment).  The biggest problem with the movie is that it's not clear what type of film it wants to be.  Bond spends most of the film vacillating between feeling down about Vesper's death, and the other half coldly killing people in some pretty decent action sequences.  It's a schizophrenic kind of film. Casino Royale allowed the filmmakers to reboot the Bond franchise and start from scratch, so technically the previous "Bond formula" shouldn't be applied to the new series.  Fair enough, but then we should hold the film up to how it functions as a sequel, and a revenge film.  It's not quite a Bond film, since it doesn't hold to the formula - there is very little spying, and it's more along the lines of a Jason Bourne film.  (In fact, one of my main complaints with the film is the involvement of 2nd Unit Director Dan Bradley, of the Bourne films. More on that later).  As a revenge film, it doesn't quite hold up, since he's never really out for revenge; he's just trying to find out what happened and understand his loss.  As a sequel, it's kinda wishywashy, in that it starts to ask more questions than it answers, and by the time the film ends, we're left feeling a little uncertain about why things when the way they did, since there are still plenty of loose ends that haven't been tied up.  The classic "gunbarrel" finally makes an appearance her at the end too, but feels tacked on.  I guess that's the problem with a "Bond sequel".... though they could have put it in the beginning.

The action sequences are well done, but sometimes they suffer from "shaky-cam" work, and the opening car chase looks like it would have been really neat to enjoy if I had a clue as to what the heck I was looking at half the time.  There are some good stunts, and some good shots, and the pros outweigh the cons.  Musically, the opening title sequence is probably the worst Bond song since Die Another Day.  Since The Living Daylights, the good Bond songs have been every-other-film (with the exception of David Arnold's "Surrender" from Tomorrow Never Dies), and "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys is just dull, without much of a melody.  David Arnold's score works much better than the song, even in the few instances where he hints at it.  Vesper's Theme makes a nice return during Bond's more contemplative moments, and overall it's an enjoyable score - but we don't really get the full Bond theme until the end credits again.

Taken together, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace would make a really good 4.2-hour long movie.  The story holds up better back-to-back.  But taken individually, Casino Royale is clearly the more superior film, and Quantum of Solace barely eeks out a 3/5 rating.  It's still definitely worth seeing  - just be sure to keep your expectations reasonable.  I look forward to the next Bond adventure - as long as it's got nothing to do with Quantum of Solace.



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