Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

A rejuvenated James Bond is back for his 22nd feature film: Quantum of Solace. Building upon the blocks laid down in 2006’s Casino Royale, this movie further “evolves” the Bond experience — presenting itself strictly as a kick-ass, take no prisoners action movie, leaving in the dust the nuances that set 007 apart from being a Jason Bourne replica.

It only takes thirty seconds of viewing to come to that conclusion as Quantum of Solace starts off with an intense car chase through the Italian mountainside. Details and a cool focus on Bond (Daniel Craig) are a distant memory, replaced by frantic, sharp edits pasted together from multiple camera angles. There is so much going on at such a quick clip that if you sneeze, cough or blink you may very well miss the majority of an action sequence. Adrenalin junkies are going to love it though because there is a lot of these sequences (foot chases, car chases, boat chases and airplane chases) put in place of what I believe is a lack of a fully fleshed out, stand-alone premise.

And what I mean by that is there is little attention paid to the characters and their stories (which were staples in the plots of earlier works) — everyone is merely a stepping stone en route to make someone or something explode spectacularly.

The film itself is basically a hyped-up extension of its predecessor — Bond is smarting over the loss of his lady love, Vesper Lynd, and wants to exact revenge against those he feels is responsible for her death (a secret organization known as Quantum). His adventure takes him through various countries in the Carribean and Europe before he finally ends up in Bolivia as he hunts down Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), the head of an eco-friendly corporation Greene Planet and a fellow Quantum member. It turns out Greene is involved with securing land rights in the Bolivian desert in exchange for seeing a coup through that would put the exiled General Medrano (Joaquà­n Cosio) back in power. Involved with this subplot is Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who wants revenge against the General for the killing her family. Together, Camille and James form an uneasy alliance to see their outcomes met.

Back on point, whereas I would have at least expected to gain a further understanding into these main roles, very little is offered up. Mathieu Amalric brings a fair amount of harshness to the role of Greene but he was lacking a certain flair that would have made him memorable to me. Ms. Kurylenko brings the pain as Camille, popping in and out of the movie when it was convenient to write her in but I couldn’t fathom how or why she was there. Bond is more damaged and Daniel Craig does a good job straddling the line between right and wrong; he just needs to not play the man like a too tightly wound clock — Bond should never lose his refinement. “M” (Judi Dench) is the only character that comes to life on the screen. I noted when she first took on the role of head of MI6, I didn’t think she was a good fit. I take that back now — she finally brands the character as her own, mixing together the perfect amounts of motherly care with hardened decision making.

It’s clear the next Bond flick will continue down this story line (very little is answered in this installment), and while I’m not necessarily against that, I can’t help but want some of the old mainstays to somehow make their way back into the fold. Gone, just like the last film, is “Q”, the head of research and development for MI6 and the lone source for lighthearted and humorous pauses between the life and death struggles Bond found himself in. Gone also is the patent womanizing the Bond of old reveled in. It too was missing last time around but I was certain the casting of Olga Kurylenko was going to fix that. Putting her in as a Bond girl was a brilliant move, but not having her flash some skin or fall for one of Bond’s cheesy hook-up lines is criminal.

All said, I still found the film fun to watch. It was easy to overlook the storytelling blemishes because much of the action it links is some of the more entertaining I’ve seen recently — the stunt coordinators really deserve a round of applause for their work here. As a fan of the series, I’ll end by noting that while Quantum of Solace isn’t the best the franchise has to offer, it’s still a great way to spend $12 and fill 100 minutes of your afternoon. Welcome back, Bond.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)' have 12 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 9, 2008 @ 5:34 pm MP

    I am totally psyched to see this. Sorry to see Q left out again though – I love the toys he comes up with.


  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 10, 2008 @ 11:50 am Mircea

    Srsly…this was a below average James Bond film. :(

    – he never ever says the quote that made him famous
    – The real James Bond would have banged Olga

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 11, 2008 @ 6:11 am Doyle

    I completely agree with your review of Solace, up until you rate it. 2 piles??

    You say it yourself, the film is nothing more than action scenes linked together with minor plot reveals. It is missing everything that would make this Bond film a real Bond film.

    4 piles from me – at a minimium.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 11, 2008 @ 9:27 pm General Disdain

    …I love the toys he comes up with.

    Me too.

    – he never ever says the quote that made him famous
    – The real James Bond would have banged Olga

    Can’t argue with the truth.

    It is missing everything that would make this Bond film a real Bond film.

    It’s missing a few key ingredients. I still like his newer, grittier persona — just needs a touch more refinement.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 15, 2008 @ 9:50 am Alex

    I culdn’t agree more. The action in this movie kept me on the edge of my seat. Who cares about Q? This is the best Bond yet.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 15, 2008 @ 4:49 pm Aldo

    As long as they don’t turn Bond into a fag, I’ll keep on watching.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 26, 2008 @ 4:34 am Alex

    “As long as they don’t turn Bond into a fag, I’ll keep on watching.”
    LOL..I have some doubts about this after watching this movie. :)

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 28, 2008 @ 4:16 am K

    This is not a James Bond movie! Jambes Bond doesn’t ever say in the movie not for a single time “Bond, James Bond!”, it is the first movie without the appearance or even reference to Q, therefore no Bond cool gadgets, it’s the first movie, James Bond doesn’t sleep with the Bond Girl. Quite out of the frame this time.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 2, 2009 @ 1:43 pm 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.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 10, 2009 @ 4:07 pm Richmond Hill

    This is a great flick in the bond series. The series has seriously improved over the last couple movies into blockbuster hits.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 13, 2009 @ 4:26 pm Julie

    I didn’t think that this film was as good as Daniel Craig’s debut role as Bond in “Casino Royale”. It seemed to lack some of the rawness and pace that made his first film so special. Also, there’s not many gadgets and the end disappoints. That said, I’d agree with General Disdain – it’s not a bad way of spending a spare afternoon!

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2010 @ 4:13 pm Neil

    Daniel Craig makes for a seriously good Bond – the most believable since Sean Connery. Like in “Casino Royale”, there’s no fooling around or many “Bond” gags. This is full-on action thriller. Strap yourself in.

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