Indignant Online

The Quantum of Solace (Movie) Review

Quantum of Solace is the extremely disappointing follow-up to Casino Royale and serves as a stillborn transitory state as the franchise seeks to move from Royale’s reboot to something closer to the status quo of the Bond series.

This film has a ton of problems, from director to editor to recycled plot elements to a bad title song and worse title sequence, but the biggest problem is the film exists more as a cipher than anything else. The big bad villains of the classic Bond films would be S.P.E.C.T.R.E., the terrorist outfit headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Thunderball and named in all the films leading up to it. The trouble with S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is the cinematic rights are part of that dispute with former Ian Fleming collaborator, Kevin McClory, that kept Bond off the screens for several years in a lawsuit.

In the original books, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. came in towards the end of the series, whereas most of the villains of the early novels were backed by the KGB (even Live and Let Die’s drug smuggling operation was backed by the Russians in the literary version). With S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in dispute, the producers have decided to introduce a new global terror organization, this time with a bit more emphasis on cash and dirty corporations. Quantum of Solace exists to introduce this new group of villains and apparently form a trilogy with Casino Royale and whatever the next film will be.

Director Marc Forster was an amazingly un-intuitive and wrong hire as director. I’d love to know what made someone think he could go from “Finding Neverland” to _either_ an action movie or an espionage movie. Quantum of Solace fails in both genres. The scenes never seem connected enough to bring any tension to chasing down the villains. The action sequences are plagued by too may quick edit cuts and hand-held cameras, changing perspective too quickly to be able to appreciate the stunt work. One of the early action sequences is a remake, of sorts, of the urban running chase at the beginning of Casino Royale, except it isn’t nearly as well done. Forster also has the “I wear black and make art movies” tendency to want to intercut his action sequences with other scenes. Oh, a horse race intercut with Bond chasing somebody. Wow, a violent scene from an opera intercut with a fight. I’m sure Forster’s sophomore film professor at NYU would have found that profound, but I wasn’t watching this film in class and it only served to remind me of a friend who went home for break, shot completely random sequences, edited them together and got an A because her professor found profound meaning it. Ah, film school. And you wonder where some of this crap comes from. Bring back Martin Campbell to direct. Failing that, get Ridley Scott or Tony Scott. A Bond film should not be shot by a first-time action director.

That covers the bad directing and very questionable editing. The problems weren’t with the lack of gadgets, just bad and dull presentation. 

The song and title sequence were a surprising matter of tedium. Jack White’s title song inexplicably seems to be taking many of its cues from “You Know My Name,” Chris Cornell’s theme from Casino Royale, then R&B’d up a bit. Didn’t work. At all. Couple this with the most boring title sequence since the films returned with Brosnan and you’ve got a double-barreled dud where most of the films have turned expository credits into entertainment. Let’s face it, is there another film series where you look forward to the titles like Bond? White can very quietly not be asked to do another song for the franchise and we’ll all be better off.

I’m going to have to add a little spoiler space to get into the myriad of recycled plot elements that convince me this was cobbled together and tossed to the director. If you’re skipping the spoilers and intend to see this film, let me hope that you’re going to see a matinee, not a full-price screening.
































So many recycled plot elements, where shall I begin?

Much of the thrust of the would-be plot is Bond’s quest for revenge after the death of his one true love, Vesper at the end of Casino Royale. Bond on a rampage after his lady’s murdered? Where have I heard that before? Oh, right. That’s You Only Live Twice, only it was his wife that got shot, whereas Vesper technically killed herself. While S.P.E.C.T.R.E. isn’t part of the book or _named_ in the movie, Blofeld is the target in both.

The rooftop chase just after the title sequence is very derivative of the chase just after the titles in Casino Royale.

Bond fighting with the bad guy as the enemy base blows up around him? How stale is that? I’d say The Spy Who Loved Me was the best film version of that little Austin Powers-parodied schtick.

Bond goes rogue, gets disavowed and chases after the villain? Yawn. Sounds a lot like both License to Kill and Die Another Day.

Clueless piece of eye candy from the embassy shows up to be the sidekick, briefly. Let’s see. Filmwise, Man with the Golden Gun’s Mary Goodnight is probably the biggest cinematic example of this.

The biggest slap to the face of a Bond lover has to be said eye candy sidekick found on Bond’s bed drenched in oil, just like Jill Masterson was painted gold in Goldfinger, with the lame addition of “having oil in her lungs” to try and make it seem more an homage than another piece of ill-considered recycling.

And to top off the all the derivative elements, this filmed lacked one of Ian Fleming’s strengths that has been frequently exaggerated since his death: the actually interesting villain and/or super-henchmen. No Odd Job, Goldfinger, Dr. No, Jaws (easily the best post-Fleming creation), or Pistols Scaramanga here. Not even a real stand-in for Blofeld. Just a mildly geeky corporate crook. Boring.

The Bond movies have always been at the worst when they strayed from the source material. This was a mash-up of elements not well structured and poorly executed. Even the title was cribbed from something else. Damn near color-by-numbers from scene to scene.

We can only hope, now that S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’s replacement has been named and Felix Leiter now in his proper place with the CIA, the next installment will get back to something interesting with, just maybe, some actual plot development.

Shop the Indignant Store

1 Comment

  1. 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.

Leave a Response