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Film Review: Quantum of Solace
In 2008, Marc Forster directed Quantum of Solace, a direct sequel to the 2006 Casino Royale and the 22ndJames Bond film. Starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Gemma Arterton, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench, Anatole Taubman, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rory Kinnear and Jesper Christensen, the film grossed $586.1 million at the box office. Awarded the Satellite Award for Best Song, it was nominated for the awards for Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects, Film and Sound Editing at the Satellite Awards, the 2009 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Action Movie, the Empire Awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Newcomer, Best Thriller and Best Soundtrack and the Saturn Awards for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film and Best Supporting Actress.
After the death of Vesper Lynd, Bond sets out for revenge against crime syndicate known as Quantum, which leads him to Dominic Greene, a Quantum operative who seeks to overthrow the Bolivian government. He also runs into Camille, a woman who has unfinished business with the general Green seeks to install.
While Quantum of Solace is a pretty decent action film, it’s quite awful as a James Bond film. On the surface, an organization such as Quantum would appear to be exaggerating when stating that they have people everywhere. M certainly believed so, stating that it’s like a florist that says they have people everywhere. But once her personal bodyguard turned and revealed himself to be a part of the organization, it becomes clear that not only is it not an exaggeration, but a frightening truth. And that’s what makes the idea of Quantum so interesting and fear-inducing: one simply doesn’t know who they can or can’t trust and must assume that everyone they meet is a part of Quantum and are against them, akin to SPECTRE in the original universe. And that’s what makes Bond the perfect agent to go up against them. Due to the events of the last film, he doesn’t trust anyone, except for M at times, and is able to make the necessary judgment calls.
Which goes into the way that Bond acts in the film. In Casino Royale, he had his entire world turned upside down with Vesper’s betrayal. And here, he’s much more cold and emotionless, which makes perfect sense as he’s essentially emotionally shut down and going through the motions of a vengeful rampage. Bond only manages to pull himself out of this state in the last moments of the film, when he’s finally had his revenge and it looks to be a somewhat realistic portrayal of those who have a one-track mind bent on something that borders obsession. Once that obsession has been lifted, like can go, at least a little bit, back to some semblance of normal. At least on the outside because those psychological scars will always remain with him, which is why Bond will continue to never be able to completely trust anyone other than M and remain a womanizer.
But while the above comes together to make a semi-decent action/adventure film, it’s tone betrays itself, making it seem like the film wanted to be more like a Bourne film rather than a Bond film. A possible reason for this could be that the script was being written during the 2007-2008 Writer’s Strike, leading it to be finished by Craig and Forster. And the resulting product was that nothing in the film other than going after villains felt like it belonged in a series like the James Bond series and barely any character was even moderately likeable (though it’s excused on the part of Bond).
Further, General Medrano is only halfway decent as a Bond villain. He's got the breadth and scope in his plans, which includes engineering a nationwide drought in Bolivia and framing its government for selling its rainforests. But his reasons for doing so are simply because he wants power and even decides that having power is worth not being in control. This feels more like a generic action film villain rather than a villain in the Bond franchise that has featured, among others, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who tried to throw the entire world into chaos twice just so he could have complete control.
There’s also Alicia Keye’s terrible opening song, “Another Way to Die,” which was chosen over a song called “No Good About Goodbye,” which would have been performed by Shirley Bassey.
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