- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
funny thing happened while watching “Casino Royale” for the second time: it wasn’t nearly as unfulfilling as I remember. In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite James Bond movies to date, but that still doesn’t change the fact that Daniel Craig is no 007. The actor’s hardly at fault, though. It wasn’t his decision to take a character best known for being suave and sophisticated and transforming him into a bullish thug that kills without thinking, even if he plays the part really well. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s Jason Bourne, because while “Quantum of Solace” may be advertised as the next James Bond adventure, it feels more like the fourth installment of the “Bourne” franchise than anything resembling the classic Bond that “Casino Royale” hinted at resurrecting.
Normally, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing (after all, the “Bourne” movies were what inspired producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to reboot the franchise), but so little actually happens in “Quantum of Solace” that it’s difficult to figure out what the movie even accomplishes. Picking up almost immediately where “Casino Royale” left off, the film opens with James Bond (Craig) in the middle of a car chase through Italy. He’s transporting Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to a secret MI6 location so that M (Judi Dench) can interrogate him about QUANTUM, the mysterious organization responsible for the death of Bond's former lover, Vesper Lynd. When Mr. White manages to escape, however, Bond travels to Haiti hoping to pick up his trail. It’s there that he meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a beautiful Bolivian agent who's using environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) in order to exact revenge on the man who killer her father. Greene is also a major player within the QUANTUM organization, and when Bond finds out about his sinister plan to reinstate a Bolivian dictator and take control of the country's natural resources, he’s forced to go rogue in order to take him down.
For all the leaps and bounds that “Casino Royale” made in reinventing the franchise, “Quantum of Solace” does very little to further that progress. Instead, it seems to exist solely as a mindless action flick with a story so thin that it can’t even fill an entire movie. The plot is merely a means to getting Bond to the next big action sequence, and there’s plenty to choose from here. Unfortunately, none of them are as memorable as the parkour chase or sinking building sequence from its predecessor. And in the case of the action-packed first act, all three set pieces are blatant rip-offs from the “Bourne” movies, including a rooftop chase through the city and a close-quarters brawl where household items are used as weapons. Using the “Bourne” trilogy as a jumping off point is one thing, but when you steal so freely from those movies, you might as well just be making “The Bourne Solace” instead.
To say that “Quantum of Solace” is like every other Jason Bourne adventure would be to grossly misrepresent that series. The Bourne character has only ever resorted to violence out of necessity, but Bond’s latest mission involves killing whoever he wants, whenever he wants, even if he doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere doing it. The whole point of the film is supposed to be about MI6 learning more about QUANTUM, but by the time Bond has finished shooting his way to Greene, they don’t know any more about the organization than they did before.
It all seems a little pointless, but that doesn’t mean the film is a complete bust. Craig is entertaining as usual as the hardened secret agent (and he even gets a few scenes that prove he can handle the lighter side of Bond), while Olga Kurylenko surprises as one of the best Bond girls in a long time. It’s too bad you can’t say the same for Gemma Arterton, whose sole highlight in her limited performance as Strawberry Fields is in a “Goldfinger” tribute that won’t be ruined here. It’s a bit of a disappointment to see such a talented actress (not to mention one of the coolest Bond girl names ever) go to waste, but that sums up “Quantum of Solace” in a nutshell. When you're as established as the James Bond movie franchise (44 years and running), you're allowed a misstep every once and a while, but to see it come so early in the Double-0's cinematic rebirth doesn’t bode well for the future.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
“Quantum of Solace” may have been a bit of a disappointment for fans of “Casino Royale,” but that’s nothing when compared to the Blu-ray release. There are no audio commentaries or deleted scenes, and the only behind-the-scenes material of any substance is a 24-minute location featurette (“Bond on Location”). The rest of the extras are made up of five mini-featurettes (none of which run for more than three minutes) on things like director Marc Forster and composing the score, as well as a series of video diaries profiling the various crew members. Whoever was in charge of producing the single-disc effort should be fired immediately – if not for failing to put together a decent collection of extras for such a big blockbuster, then for including two location featurettes that recycle the same footage and interviews.