Quantum of Solace (2008) Movie Review

James Bond is back, and oh man is he pissed off. “Quantum of Solace”, the 22nd Bond film opens with a fast and furious car chase that leaves behind a trail of bodies. You know, the usual James Bond Sunday morning drive in the countryside. We rent a DVD and order in some chicken (or maybe a McRib or two if we’re feeling adventurous), but Bond, he trashes half the Italian countryside with a kidnapped victim in the trunk of his car, then caps the day off by torturing said kidnapped victim for information. When that doesn’t work, Bond grabs a gun and starts shooting. But first – much running, punching, and jumping across rooftops ensue. Man, I’m exhausted, and we’re not even ten minutes into “Quantum of Solace” yet!

So, the plot. As “Quantum” begins, we are just a few hours removed from the events of “Casino Royale”, with Bond and M. (Judi Dench) attempting to uncover the nefarious faces behind a mysterious organization that was pulling the strings of La Chiffre, the poker playing villain from “Royale”. M. is quite rightly puzzled and more than a little unnerved (especially after a near-fatal betrayal by someone close to her) that she hasn’t heard of this organization before. For Bond, the organization hits closer to home: they are responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green in “Royale”), his true love for whom he continues to mourn, albeit in silence. Needless to say, things don’t quite go as planned, and before you know it, Bond is once again globe-trotting. After all, there are only so many people you can shoot in Italy before you find the need to shoot people in other countries

Bond ends up in Haiti, where he runs into the strong-willed Camille (Olga Kurylenko), the girl toy of the vicious Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), an evil Frenchman who claims to be an environmentalist, but we know better because A) He’s French, so he has to be up to no good; and B) he has a bad toupee wearing henchman leering about in the background at all times. In fact, Green is currently working to facilitate the overthrow of a country on behalf of the organization that Bond is searching for. For you see, this is what the organization (called Quantum, as we come to learn) does: it provides favors for wannabe dictators in exchange for achieving small, seemingly innocuous goals that, inevitably, will lead to a higher, ultimate goal. And what’s that, you ask? Haven’t a clue. I’m assuming the screenwriters are saving that for the 23rd Bond film because, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but “Quantum” is clearly just the middle section of what is a planned trilogy.

Along the way, Bond runs into some familiar faces and new ones. Giancarlo Giannini returns as Mathis, who comes out of retirement to lend a helping hand when M. cuts off Bond’s resources after a fatal confrontation with another British agent. The CIA brother from Langley Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) also figures into things, with the CIA agreeing to look the other way as Greene goes about his shady business as the frontman for Quantum. For those still waiting for the Daniel Craig Bond Universe to re-introduce Q., the man who makes Bond’s gadgets, or Moneypenny, M.’s secretary, they will have to keep on waiting. New Bond girls are introduced in the form of Gemma Artherton, playing a field agent named Fields (she refuses to tell Bond her first name, although according to the IMDB.com credits, it’s Strawberry. Get it? Strawberry Fields?), while Russian model turned actress Olga Kurylenko (“Hitman”) fills the Tough Bond Girl role, which has become a must since the ‘90s, as previously played by Michelle Yeoh and more recently, Halle Berry.

As with “Casino Royale”, “Quantum of Solace” has remained true to its goal of presenting a minimalist approach to the new and (depending on your perspective) improved Bond universe. That means the only real “out there” gadget that Bond gets to use is a cellphone, the result of a multi-million dollar product placement deal, no doubt. And while M.’s office utilizes technology that could come straight from the set of Spielberg’s “Minority Report”, Bond himself is devoid of such geeky assistance, relying mostly on his fists, steely determination, and the amazing ability to punch, kick, shoot, and dogfight his way out of pretty much every tight spot he finds himself. And of course, the aforementioned cellphone, which like Jack Bauer’s handy PDA on 24, seems capable of doing just about everything except cook you dinner, although I’m sure it could do that too if you just ask nicely.

I don’t claim to be a Bond expert, but I’m reasonably certain that “Quantum of Solace’s” surprising 90-something running time has to make it the shortest Bond movie in the franchise’s history. This is actually a very good thing, as one of my biggest gripes about the Bond movies have always been their length. At times, sitting through a Bond movie and their many elaborate action set pieces have been an endurance test for me. That isn’t a problem with “Quantum of Solace”, which features very short spurts of action that manages to entertainment, but never overstays their welcome. Even the final shoot-out seems incredibly short by comparison to the sometimes 30-minute long sequences of the other Bond movies. It’s been said that the minimalist approach in “Casino Royale” was a direct result of the success of the “Bourne” films. If that’s the case, then “Quantum” not only continues the trend, but takes it even further. Personally, I’m not one of those people who went ga-ga over the overly frenetic and chaotic action of the “Bourne” films, which tend to rely so much on ridiculously choppy editing as to be cheating. But if you happen to like that stuff, “Quantum” has more of it, so enjoy.

In his second outing as Bond, Daniel Craig is certainly filling out the role nicely. That is, if you like your Bond cold, hardened, and gritty. This Bond is as comfortable strolling through a black tie tuxedo party drinking champagne as he is chasing bad guys through sewers. And keeping to the more grounded tone of “Casino Royale”, Craig’s super agent is not especially quick with the quip after killing a man, but then again, once you’ve thrown someone through a window and made sure he bled to death before making your next move, maybe a quip isn’t all that appropriate. (Of course, that’s never stopped all the other Bonds, but I digress.) But if the motivation for Craig’s performance was to separate his version of the secret agent from Connery’s, Moore’s, and more recently, Brosnan’s, then he’s certainly achieved his goal. So yes: no Q., no gadgets, no Moneypenny, and no shaken, not stirred martinis are to be found anywhere in “Quantum of Solace”.

It should be relatively easy to find reviewers who know more about Bond than I. In fact, I’ll go on record as saying that I don’t know all that much about the character, and I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve seen all of the 22 Bond movies. Every now and then SpikeTV will do one of their James Bond marathons (usually when a new Bond movie is coming out; funny how that works), and I’ll be able to fill in some missing spots that way. Honestly, I am not in any position to judge Craig’s Bond against all the others that have come before him. In that respect, I think this Bond will appeal more to moviegoers who didn’t grow up with Bond, which should certainly bode well for the franchise’s continued commercial success. I suppose in one regard the producers should be commended for having the vision and courage to change their very profitable character to better fit in with the new world order. Then again, I suspect many old school Bond fans may feel slighted by the general lack of “Bondness” in “Quantum of Solace”, which has to be, even more so than “Casino Royale”, so un-Bond as to be, well, more Bourne than Bond. And depending on your history with Bond, James Bond, that may be either a good thing or a bad thing.

Marc Forster (director) / Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (screenplay)
CAST: Daniel Craig … James Bond
Olga Kurylenko … Camille
Mathieu Amalric … Dominic Greene
Judi Dench … M
Giancarlo Giannini … Mathis
Gemma Arterton … Strawberry Fields
Jeffrey Wright … Felix Leiter


Buy Quantum of Solace on DVD



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • s

    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.

  • s

    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.