007 December – Quantum of Solace (2008) – What About the Twinkie?


007-December Blogathon

Here’s a review by Kieron of What About the Twinkie? of Quantum of Solace (2008).

Thanks Kieron!

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Director: Marc Forster Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench & Olga Kurylenko Synopsis: James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource. All the while, he still tries to seek revenge over the death of his love Rating: 12A Runtime: 106 minutes

It was never going to be an easy task to follow-up Martin Campbell’s excellent 007 reboot, Casino Royale. The film launched James Bond into the modern era, stripping away his gadgets, his Q’s and Moneypenny’s, and deconstructed the character, only to have him fully formed again by the film’s end. So what should we have expected in Quantum of Solace? The Bond of old returning, womanizing his way around the world and killing enemies whilst delivering a glib one-liner? Or a more a natural character development where 007 earns his stripes but still suffers from the losses of the first film? Director Marc Forster has gone for the latter. He see’s Bond as revenge driven and not quite as fully formed as we thought. It makes for an interesting, and at times very enjoyable film, but one that also feels like an awkward addition to the franchise.

Quantum starts off straight after the events of Casino Royale. Bond has a captured Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in the boot of his car and is taking him in for questioning alongside M (Judi Dench). Upon his interrogation, Mr. White reveals that Mi6 and the CIA are completely oblivious to his organisation, the Quantum of the title, and how deep they really are. A fight ensues, as M’s bodyguard is revealed to be a double agent working for Quantum, and Mr. White flees while Bond goes after the double agent. The set-piece doesn’t quite match the free running escapades of Casino Royale, but it is nonetheless a breathtaking scene where you feel each bump, knock and punch that Bond takes.

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This leads Bond on a globetrotting adventure, taking in Russia, Bolivia, Austria and South America. We reunite with Felix Leiter of the CIA, as well as Rene Mathis as Bond attempts to uncover Quantum’s plans. It takes him deeper than he thought possible and reveals that major players who featured in Casino Royale were nothing but pawns in a greater scheme. The story, much like the action, comes at you so quickly it is hard to know what is going on at times and can be a bit jarring. Several times throughout the film I found myself questioning what was going on, and if I had missed something in all the rush.

Several new characters are introduced including Olga Kurylenko’s Camille, Gemma Arterton’s Agent Fields and Mathieu Amalric’s big bad Dominic Greene making the film feel so stuffed that Bond’s characterisation seems to take a backseat for a large part of the film. Instead he seems to largely remain the same person we saw at the end of Casino Royale, cold ruthless and distant. The only person who seems to be able to get close to him is Judi Dench’s M. She knows Bond almost better than he knows himself, and their constant back and forth with one another are some of the films more refined moments. Director Marc Forster has previously noted their relationship is unique as M is the only woman Bond does not see in a sexual sense. It has been one of the strongest points of the Daniel Craig era, and one wishes we could see a little more of it perhaps.

Forster’s direction here is, of course, different to that of Martin Campbell’s but Forster nonetheless finds a way to compliment what came before, whilst also embedding his mark on the series. He films some beautiful locations, but never seems to linger on any of them for too long, almost as if he believes that Bond must keep moving in order to overcome his loss and that the audience must move along at the same pace. A set piece never seems far away, and there is little warning of when the next one will come. It’s all very Jason Bourne esque at times, a fact perhaps driven home once you realise that the stunt coordinator also worked on The Bourne Ultimatum.

It all makes for a very fast paced affair. Quantum is the shortest Bond film yet, but whereas other entries can feel bloated, Quantum feels it cuts off at just the right moment. It may not be the most spectacular Bond film, and being sandwiched between Casino Royale and Skyall doesn’t really help its case, but it remains an enjoyable entry in the franchise even if it’s not the most memorable.

In summaryQuantum of Solace is a very serviceable action film, and one that is distracting enough for a nights entertainment. But as a sequel to Casino Royale, it is maybe not the spectacular follow-up we had hoped for.

 

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