Thursday, November 5, 2015

Movie Review: "Quantum of Solace" (2008)

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Movie"Quantum of Solace"
Director: Marc Forster
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour,46 minutes

James Bond (Daniel Craig) looks into the activities of a man named Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and his organization Greene Planet. He learns that Dominic is planning to help a Bolivian general overthrow his government in exchange for a seemingly baron piece of land. With this land, Dominic hopes to monopolize access to a valuable resource that he plans to sell for top dollar. Bond also discovers that Greene has support from the CIA while his own country and MI6 start to question if he's gone rogue on a quest for revenge.    

"Quantum of Solace" is the second Bond film since Daniel Craig took over as the titular character. Unfortunately, this sophomoric effort is far weaker than his debut in "Casino Royale." That doesn't mean it is an overall a bad movie, it just falls extremely short of the very high bar set by its predecessor. This sequel picks up about where the original left off. Bond, M, played by Judi Dench, and several other agents are interrogating Mr. White, played by Jesper Christensen, who was captured at the end of "Casino Royale." Through this interrogation, they find out there are leaks and moles in MI6, showing they can't trust anyone. Just then, one of M's bodyguards turns on her in an attempt to free White. This incident leads Bond to a man named Dominic Greene and his organization Greene Planet as Bond starts to uncover Greene's plan of overthrowing the Bolivian government with the surprising support of the CIA. Therein lies the mystery to why is the CIA helping Greene. Bond is trying to uncover this puzzle as M starts to question his motives and whether or not he is just on a rampage of vengeance over the death of his love Vesper, played by Eva Green, in the previous film.

There are a lot of good action sequences in this film that offer some mindless, adrenaline-filled entertainment, though often executed through a shaky camera which can get distracting. "Quantum of Solace" also showcases a dramatic difference in the emotional tone of James Bond as a character and as a franchise. There is also an addition of a new "Bond Girl" named Camille, played by Olga Kurylenko. Unlike Vesper, Camille is not a love interest of James Bond as he leaves his typical womanizing for a more minor character. Camille is  actually a stronger, more action-oriented character on her own quest of vengeance. Though revenge plays a huge role for both of these characters, it all feels notably less than its predecessor, and yet somehow still follows the same Bond-y type of format, but with a lack of focus.

Seeing trailers for the new James Bond film "Spectre" before its release, we can clearly see things in "Quantum of Solace" being set up as important plot devices for this upcoming sequel. In this aspect, filmmakers managed to do something right as this film is still self contained, but is also clearly setting up future sequels with connected plot points. Where this installment fails the most is in its villain. By far, the biggest step down for this sequel is Dominic Greene, who doesn't quite have the on-screen presence, stature, or look of La Chiffre from "Casino Royale." La Chiffre had a huge facial scar and a dead eye that cried blood. He could calculate difficult mathematical odds and statistics in his head easily. He had his knotted rope that he used to repeatedly flick James Bond in the testicles while he was naked and strapped to a chair. By contrast, Dominic Greene feels like a little weasel with the right government connections and a chip on his shoulder, hardly the villain we want to see after such a menacing looking baddie.
La Chiffre on the left, Dominic Greene on the right. We rest our case.
This is also by far the shortest of the Daniel Craig Bond films and is nearly 40 minutes shorter than the next shortest film in the series. This wouldn't be a big downfall for it if the story had nearly as much development as "Casino Royale" did. There is also a lack of more intriguing characters apart from La Chiffre. While Daniel Craig is as good as ever, it begs the question, what went wrong here? The movies before and after it are so, so much better. Was this just too big of a job for director Marc Forster to handle? It seems more like one long car chase rather than an action thriller from one of the biggest franchises in movie history. Like we said, not a bad movie, but definitely not the best Bond we've ever seen.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching:

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