Quantum of Solace
November 24, 2009
Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 106 min Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Daniel Craig’s second turn as James Bond was something of a disappointment in the theater. Casino Royale was such a successful reboot, that expectations were high, but Quantum had problems. However, on DVD I find myself a little more forgiving. Even bad Bond is pretty good.
The first direct sequel to a Bond movie, it starts about 15 minutes after Casino Royale ends. Bond’s in a high-speed car chase in Italy. Then we get a rooftop chase scene in Siena, during the Palio horse race.
I point out just for the record that since there are two Palio horse races in Siena a year, each lasting about 90 seconds, the chances of Bond just happening to get into a chase across Siena rooftops at the same time as the horse race are approximately 85,000 to 1, if my back-of-a-napkin calculation is accurate. This isn’t a criticism of the movie, just pointing out how James Bond is some kind of force who affects probability at a quantum level in his universe.
But where was I. Oh yes, Bond gets into a bizarre trapeze-fight with a bad guy in a Siena church in the midst of restoration, killing said bad guy in the process. Soon there’s a revelation that there’s a new super-secret bad guy organization that MI6 knew nothing about. Some damn thing (maybe an address on a book of matches, who knows) causes Bond to fly to Haiti. There he kills another guy who attacks him when he enters his hotel room.
Bond seems to spend most of the rest of the movie like this, finding random clues that lead him back and forth across the Atlantic, not really knowing who he’s pursuing or why, but pretty confident that if he just keeps racking up frequent flier miles and defending himself against (and killing) whoever attacks him in the next place he visits, he’ll get a clue and another international flight.
Somewhere in there his boss M declares him rogue and cancels his credit cards and passports and such, but this almost seems more like she’s doing it as an incentive to make him work even harder.
Of course, Bond encounters beautiful, damaged women (if they weren’t damaged before he knew them, they soon are). Gemma Arterton as Ms. Fields (and to the movie’s credit, I don’t think they ever reveal her first name on screen, but, if you know Bond girls, and a certain Beatles tune, and her hair color, you can probably figure it out), and Olga Kurylenko as a woman seeking revenge.
Eventually Bond discovers that the main bad guy is a business mogul trying to buy up seemingly useless land in Bolivia, posing as someone championing the environment but actually doing the opposite. It seems like some of the locals might have noticed his scheme, but it takes Bond crashing a plane in the middle of nowhere to figure it out.
Then there’s a showdown in the Bolivian desert at a fancy hotel that seems to be built out of explosive bricks (Actually filmed at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert).
So, it seems like a plot that even Bond doesn’t so much figure out as just play an elaborate, violent version of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego.
The movie seems to be trying to emulate the Bourne movies, in the frantic pace to the action sequences and the sprinting from one international location to the next with the main character not really knowing why. So… for Bond 23: Stop!
But, despite all this, the movie is never boring, and it’s very stylish, getting Bond into all sorts of scenic locations for the next chase/fight/etc. And it’s very atmospheric.
A lot of people seemed bewildered by the title, wondering what a Quantum of Solace was. It’s a Modicum of Comfort. Now you know.
DVD extras: There’s a regular edition of this and a 2-disk Special Edition.
Regular: “Another Way to Die” Music Video, Theatrical Trailers
Two-disc Special Edition: The above, plus on the second disk: “Bond on Location” 24-minute documentary, plus 5 short (5-minutes or less) Making Of bits (Start of Shooting, On Location, Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase, Director Marc Forster, The Music), and about 50 minutes of Crew Files, basically excerpts from a web video blog during the making of the film. Unfortunately, there’s no commentary track on the film.
Popularity: 62% [?]
Seen it? How many stars do you give it?