Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jame's Solace Is Not Bonding

Quantum of Solace

Literally picking up five minutes after Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace finds our beloved secret agent, James Bond, looking to avenge the death of his love. While interrogating the mysterious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), Bond quickly learns that something far bigger than he expected is at play. A powerful organization, named Quantum, appears to have been operating in secret for a long time. While following a series of thin leads, Bond stumbles onto Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), an environmentalist who has an unusual interest in acquiring a large patch of desert. Greene also seems interested in permanently breaking up with his girlfriend, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), through rather illegal methods. Bond must not only race to uncover Greene’s real plans; but also figure out how Quantum can operate without being detected by the worlds top intelligence agencies.

There has been a lot of critical backlash towards Quantum of Solace leading up to the film’s release, and not all of it is unwarranted. This film really tries hard to convert many of the fans of the Bourne trilogy who never cared for James Bond. Yet in doing so, it loses a lot of what made the revamping of James Bond in Casino Royale so special. Casino Royale did such a great job of balancing a well structured plot and heart-pumping action. The first half of Quantum of Solace suffers from a case of style over substance. It felt like the film did not officially start until the midway point (i.e. the Tosca segment); then it was over before you could blink. The first half of the film was non-stop action without any real subtext. The open car chase was not as suspenseful as director Marc Foster intended it to be. Mainly because all the quick edits did not allow the audience to really soak in the tension of the scene. After that, it was pretty much action sequence after action sequence. It also did not help that people died before they even utter a single word. Which made the introduction, and evolution, of both Camille and Dominic Greene very stunted.

Yes, this Quantum does feel more like a buffer to the next film, but there was still much to enjoy. The plot driven second half saves the film completely in my opinion. There are still several big actions sequences, but the added context makes them far more exciting than anything in the first half of the film. I loved the fact that Bond finally has an organization (a la SPECTRE) to do battle with again. I thought the whole segment at the opera was the highlight of the film, with the airplane sequence a close second. Also I really liked Kurylenko as a Bond girl, I just wish her storyline was pieced together better. Amalric was good but they needed to give him a menacing henchmen; it was a little hard to believe that Dominic could go hand to hand Bond. Quantum of Solace is very flawed, yet it is not the horrendous train-wreck that some try to make it out to be. While not great a film, it still ranks somewhere in the middle of the lengthy Bond canon.

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