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"Quantum of Solace"

Directed by Marc Forster.
Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
Starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric and Judi Dench.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  11/21/08

Folks--

How else can I say it?  "Quantum of Solace" is not good, and not good in strange ways.

Essentially "Casino Royale 2", "Quantum of Solace" is a sequel, no doubt--minutes after "Casino Royale" and its storyline end, we pick it right back up, as Bond (Daniel Craig) is racing to a safehouse in Italy with Mr. White (Jesper Christiansen) in his Aston Martin trunk.  It turns out White works with a network so clandestine that no one in the world knows who works with White...uh, except Bond, who 20 minutes into the film has figured out who at least a half-dozen key figures are.  That Bond is crafty!  So, we run all over the world chasing leads, most notably a man named Greene (Mathieu Amalric, very French but playing someone vaguely European), who is about to get rid of an undercover Bolivian agent named Camille (Olga Kurylenko, from "Hitman"), who is about to rub out another killer, who is somehow linked to some other guy...

The plot isn't important in "Quantum of Solace"; strange, because it was important in "Casino Royale."  "Quantum of Solace" is also about 30 minutes shorter than "Casino Royale", baffling considering that most Bond films are long.  "Quantum" also sucks in a lot of ways, mainly tied to the fact that the film is incredibly empty, emotionally and sometimes visually.  Take, for example, the fact that there are action montages in "Quantum"; I can't think of a time when shootouts were glazed over in a Bond film.  Like "Casino", "Quantum" starts off well, with a quick 15-minute segment of action, title sequence/Bond song, action/chase scene.  Then, the film gives us more, and then even more action scenes, mixed with shots of M (Judi Dench), or "Mom" as she is called throughout "Quantum", trying to track down Bond.  Then, there's a brief break before the film ends on another three or four straight action sequences.

Director Marc Forster is my pick for the reason why this Bond isn't very good...Forster has made good films before (I loved "Finding Neverland", and he got Halle Berry an Oscar for "Monster's Ball"), but in an action setting, he almost seems lost trying to figure out the balance between set pieces and storytelling, and he errs on the side of set pieces.  I watched "Casino Royale" earlier in the day before seeing "Quantum", and save for that initial burst of action in the long chase sequence early on, "Casino" is a very un-action-y movie.  That was okay because the characters were great, the poker sequences were engaging, and there was some real mystery in the plot/ending.  The locations in "Casino" are as lush as they are in "Quantum", and Craig is great again as Bond...but, otherwise, this movie is a major disappointment.  And, I could go on for days about how much the bad guys are sucking in the Craig Bond flicks; in "Quantum", Amalric's Greene is so bad, he's almost an afterthought, like the writers and producers remembered last minute, "Oh yeah, we should have a bad guy in this sequel, right?", and totally underwrote the guy.  Here's a testament to how bad the Greene character is--Amalric plays a man who can literally only move his eyelids in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (a great rental, it was nominated for four Oscars at this year's ceremony) and he had more to do in that film, moving JUST HIS FUCKING EYELIDS, than he does in "Quantum."  Yikes!

Most people will leave the theater saying "it was alright", and that's probably true, although I don't think I will watch this movie as often on cable reruns as I watch "Casino", which is damn near every time it's on.  And, at the end of the day, the movie made a shit-ton of cash, so all is good with the world as Bond rakes in the dough.  But, here's to hoping that the Bond producers--who probably are as guilty as Forster for sticking to too much action--try to re-hire Martin Campbell to direct the next Bond flick, since he was money with both "Casino" and "Goldeneye", Pierce Brosnan's only great 007 venture.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09