Quantum of Solace (2008)

quantum of solace

“I think you’re so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don’t care who you hurt. When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go.”

The Scoop: 2008 PG-13, directed by Marc Forster and starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko and Mathieu Amalric

Tagline: Bond is Back

Summary Capsule: James Bond, still blatantly hurt by his true love’s betrayal, lives up to his double-oh status by traveling the world to find out exactly who or what is trying to pull a whole lot of powerful strings.

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Kyle’s rating: I find a quantum of solace every time I eat French fries.

Kyle’s review: Although the fracturizing of pop culture into niche-centric shards makes it difficult to comprehensively analyze the ripples any one work creates, it does seem fairly ‘off’ that Quantum of Solace didn’t resonate as much as (perhaps only I believe) a Bond film should. Chalk it up to a mass-perceived inability to live up to the epic-ness of Casino Royale, a lot of confusion about what this movie is actually about, or maybe real world concerns simply overwhelming all available time for conversational discourse. Some might say that’s a sign of poor quality, or even creative fatigue.

Ultimately, it is a James Bond flick. Glory be.

Quantum of Solace is flawed, to be sure. To a surprisingly extensive degree. Even beyond the filmmakers’ inability to have any kind of gunplay or violence interrupt the real-life horse race the pre-title action uses as a backdrop, the sequence establishes an important element you’ll need to adapt to in order to properly enjoy QoS: things will happen that not even repeated viewings will clear up or explain. Friends, some die-hard Bond fanatics, have tempered their positive reviews with the admission that entire plot developments make absolutely no sense to them.

Amusingly, they’re so happy to have Daniel Craig as Bond that you can tell all the vitriol they used to bring to bear against my boy Pierce Brosnan is being purposely bitten back in lieu of polite compliments, much to the detriment of their internal organs. How’s that spleen, haters?

Never mind politics: There is clearly a global division over what the people want in a James Bond film. The classic Bond film formula, arguably definitively defined in Goldfinger and religiously observed across decades until (others would say) it was utterly corrupted to sickening excess during later Brosnan films (so many point to Die Another Day as the ultimate in plasticky overindulgence), became an object of derision once Jason Bourne films became ascendant. What did the tired, predictable James Bond franchise possibly have to offer that the stream-lined and angsty Bourne films didn’t render irrelevant? What did the modern world need from James Bond?

But just as some never turn their backs on favorite sports franchises, no matter how bleak things get, James Bond endured. The iconography of Bond, including the most famous drink order ever, ensures cultural immortality beyond the films all around the world. All it would take to revive Bond’s relevance is a great Bond film, and Casino Royale was it. The inspired casting of the magnificent-in-every-way Daniel Craig as a James Bond just starting out as 007 was a masterstroke, and though overly long, Casino Royale served to serve notice that Bond was, for all intents and purpose, back for good. Hooray!

Matt Damon (star of the Jason Bourne films) doesn’t think too highly of the character of James Bond. Damon explained exactly why he thinks Bourne is (presumably) a much ‘better’ character than Bond: “Because Bond is an imperialist, misogynist sociopath who goes around bedding women and swilling martinis and killing people. He’s repulsive.”

It would be far too easy to reference Team America: World Police here to discredit Damon’s take on, well, anything. So let’s avoid that. I only bring this up because it’s very amusing, and on the big screen the war between spies comes down to Bourne versus Bond. Others pop up and occasionally make an impression, but box office numbers ensure immortality, so you’ve got to focus on the titans.

I enjoy the Bourne films, don’t get me wrong. But I worship James Bond; what that says about me, especially in the eyes of Matt Damon, I prefer not to know. What I love about Bond, and what fully redeems QoS for me beyond all faults, is that the heart of the film series is a charismatic actor portraying an incorruptible man of action fully aware of how the world works and skilled enough to find a way to make it work better.

Quantum of Solace is no exception. Whatever bizarre plot contrivances or leaps in logic occur, I go along with it all quite happily because Daniel Craig is Bond. If he thinks saving a mysterious femme fatale furthers his plan for justice, or if he thinks uncovering a Lex Luthor-esque water rights scam in a smallish country will be one more essential step in saving the world, I’ll trust him. He is Bond. What other pedigree does he need?

I’m not trying to make excuses for QoS; I don’t believe it needs it. There are plot holes and confusing developments and artistically-staged fight sequences that all combine to confound expectations and separate the true enthusiast from someone looking only to see idiot action scenes. My only concern is whether or not it’s a good Bond film, and because it allows James Bond to be James Bond (with enough emphasis on his burgeoning ultimate Bond-ness to acknowledge the accelerated evolution of Craig’s newish 007) with plenty of situations where only Bond could thrive and survive, it’s fair to say this is a good Bond film. I personally go further with my love, as I find Quantum of Solace to be a rollickingly fun adventure of my favorite secret agent. I understand why some found it dull or difficult to follow, but I think there is enough here to warrant your attention. Even if you’re fully behind Bourne (hopefully not only for the moral reasons), wouldn’t it be darkly pleasurable to see how the other spy lives?

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Justin’s rating: Somebody needs anger management counseling…

Justin’s review: With the advent of the movie remake/reboot craze of the mid-2000s, filmgoers have been pleased and disturbed alike with the results. Pleased, because in many cases a remake/reboot of a franchise can shake a studio out of a tired or undesirable rut that it’s plowed into, and pave the way for great restarts like Batman Begins. Disturbed, because in even more cases, filmmakers go about their chore without the slightest clue as to what made the original so special and unique, and end up churning out something that just sullies the franchise even further: Rob Zombie’s Halloween, for example.

It wasn’t without a sense of irony that J.J. Abram’s rebooted Star Trek trailer appeared before Quantum of Solace, because Star Trek represents a massive gamble on Paramount’s part – do it right, and a whole new generation of fans await to hand you their dollars. Do it wrong or lackluster, and you won’t have many more chances, period. If Quantum of Solace had been the initial “rebooted” James Bond film instead of Casino Royale, I sincerely believe the franchise would’ve died right then and there.

Whereas Casino Royale did a lot of things right in restarting the James Bond series – making it grittier, more kinetic, less cheesy – I was a little unnerved at how it was taking its cues from modern spy thrillers like the soulless Bourne series, which were all action and no heart. For all the good or bad that Bond films have given us over the years, it’s always been about personality and memorable characters and groan-worthy lines and over-the-top villainy. Royale didn’t go far down that path at all, turning Bond into a relentless, invincible assassin who doesn’t even confront the big bad guys so much as get his man-parts smashed to prove his manliness.

Missing the point completely that people wanted to see Bond continue to become more like the Bond we remember as the new reboot developed, the makers of Quantum of Solace must’ve assumed all we wanted was action scene after action scene until the end credits arrived and millions were in their pockets. As completely stupid and outrageous as Bond films grew in the early 2000s, now they’ve swung so far the other way that Quantum represents a Bond who is merciless, soulless and humorless – who, at one point, offloads a friend’s body in a dumpster with the explanation of “he wouldn’t care.” What, you and he had a heart-to-heart about post-death corpse dumping? How would you know? Saying that doesn’t make you any less of a jerk.

This is a James Bond who might be all jumping and marksmanship and never-say-dieness — but it is not a person, just a scripted program. He sleeps with the sexy woman not because there’s any spark there, but because it’s what is expected (and, c’mon, worst come-on line ever). He backpedals away from all of the trappings that have made 007 what he is that so many of the Bond staples are glaringly absent – no pre-credit gun barrel POV, no “Bond, James Bond”, no gadgets, no Q, no Moneypenny, no double entendres, no villains with overly elaborate schemes (the guy in here is just dull, has an IKEA fortress and steals – spoiler – water), and no “shaken, not stirred”. Instead, we get a gun-toting bunny rabbit who hop, skips and jumps through scene after scene, killing and smirking and killing some more until everything blows up and the movie ends.

In many ways, Quantum of Solace feels like both an epilogue to Casino Royale and a prologue to whatever film they conjure up next, but it never manages to be its own person. At 106 minutes, it might be one of the quickest Bond films ever made, but it’s also the emptiest.

Ah, the walk of shame… who hasn’t been there?

Intermission!

  • Bond is pretty good about covertly grabbing souvenirs, but then against he is a superspy.
  • The iconic gun barrel sequence finally returns to the series; presumably to serve notice that Daniel Craig’s Bond is now, after two films’ worth of tryout, fully James Bond, 007.
  • In many of the posters, you see Bond with a giant-ass gun. Yeah, he only uses this in the pre-credits sequence, and just once. Everything else: tiny gun.
  • The plot point of Bond informing a female British spy that her lover is an enemy agent (in espionage terms, a “honeypot”) comes from Ian Fleming’s short story “007 in New York.”
  • “Quantum of Solace” is one of the tales from the “For Your Eyes Only” short story collection. Bond appears only in the framing sequence; after a dinner party, he remarks offhandedly to the host that if he were ever to marry, he thinks he’d like to wed a flight attendant. The host proceeds to tell the story of a friend of his who married a flight attendant, how she eventually cheated on him, and his incredibly cruel revenge. There are no spy elements, being an attempt by Fleming to show that Bond’s exploits pale in comparison with real-life drama. No elements from this story appear in the film.

Groovy Quotes

    • M: The Americans are going to be none too pleased.
    • Bond: I promised them Le Chiffre and they got him.
    • M: They got his body.
    • Bond: Well, if they wanted his soul, they should have made a deal with a priest.

Camille: So, what’s your interest in Greene?
Bond: Among other things, he tried to kill a friend of mine.
Camille: A woman?
Bond: Yes. But it’s not what you think.
Camille: Your mother?
Bond: She likes to think so.

M: When someone says that they have people everywhere, you expect it to be hyperbole. Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn’t mean that they have people in the bloody room.

Camille: You sent someone to kill me?
Dominic: Please don’t talk to me like I’m stupid… it’s unattractive.

M: You killed a man in Brigenz.
Bond: I did my best not to.
M: You shot him in cold blood and threw him off a roof. I would hardly call that showing restraint!

M: This is about trust. You said you weren’t motivated by revenge.
Bond: I am motivated by my duty.
M: No… I think you’re so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don’t care who you hurt. When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go.

M: Ask him about Slate.
Tanner: She wants to know about Slate.
Bond: Slate was a dead end.
Tanner: He says it was a dead end.
M: Damn! He killed him.

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