Quantum Of Solace (2008) – Movie Review

 

Give Me Solace From This Movie

12 years ago I remember watching Quantum Of Solace in the cinema and wanting to walk out midway through. Fast forward to 2020 and jumping back into Daniel Craig’s second venture on the big screen is not a pleasant experience. In fact, it’s actually worse than I remember it being and somehow solidifies itself as one of the worst Bond films ever released.

Instead of the hallmarks that make James Bond so iconic, Quantum Of Solace bears far more resemblance to the Jason Bourne series instead. This is important to note because Solace released at the peak of that franchise’s success and the similarities are plain to see.

The result is a film that showcases the importance of editing, good action and a competent Director. If Quantum Of Solace had any of these three it may have passed as a decent film. Instead, it’s not only a terrible Bond picture, it’s a really bad movie in its own right too.

Unlike Casino Royale, you absolutely cannot jump into this one without seeing the previous film. To save you the 2 hour 30 minute return trip, Casino Royale ended with Bond watching his lover Vesper Lynd drown. She was being blackmailed by a powerful man known simply as Mr White who was working for a higher power.

Giving him this tip-off, the final scenes of that movie saw Bond approaching Mr White after shooting him in the foot and proclaiming that his name is “Bond. James Bond.” It’s an iconic ending and one that topped off a decent movie.

Quantum Of Solace’s nasty streak begins the minute the film starts. There’s no explanation as to what’s going on and the movie forces you to play catch up before you’ve even begun to get invested in the characters again.

This is made all the worse by a big action set piece that gives a taster of how bad these segments get. This disorientating, dizzy car chase through the twisty mountain roads of Italy should have been a show-stopping segment.

Mr White is bundled in the boot of Bond’s acquired Aston Martin (the car he won last movie in a poker game) and bullets rain down around Bond as he tries to evade his pursuers. Cars hit traffic, there’s some neat jump sequences and even a couple of close calls against the mountain range. You’ll be hard pressed to see this though as the rapid jump cuts leave you wondering just what’s going on.

Bond’s hell-bent on causing as much destruction as possible this time around too, topped up on a heady cocktail of anger and pain. Killing anyone in his way, his bloody crusade leads him to a shadowy organization called Quantum who happen to have eyes everywhere… even inside MI6.

The real star of the Quantum show though is a corrupt environmentalist known as Dominic Greene. He has big plans to monopolize and control Bolivia’s water supply.┬áIn doing so, a mass drought across the country would manufacture a humanitarian disaster and bag him a tidy profit to put right.

If everything goes sideways or a deal isn’t met, this could spell certain doom for the inhabitants of this third World country… unless Bond can do something about it.

With so much revenge and moody brooding through the 100 minutes there’s absolutely no time to include any of the special ingredients that make a good Bond movie. Sure, there’s the Bond girl in Camille but aside from her there’s nothing else remotely James Bond-like here.

The closest the film actually comes to showing someone being wooed or engaging in bedroom antics is an implied and incredibly questionable rape scene during the third act of the movie. Honestly, I have no idea how that ended up here and it’s even more awkward on reflection all these years later.

The faults here though lie squarely with the script and Directorial decisions of Marc Forster. Everything here betrays what makes James Bond so memorable. There’s no shaken and stirred martinis, no clever quips and certainly no humour. There is, however, plenty of bloodshed, violence and action. Unlike Casino Royale, the action here leaves a lot to be desired.

Quantum Of Solace is the perfect example of how not to shoot and edit a film. Every action sequence is intentionally obfuscated to frustrate and annoy audiences. Yes this may work for Jason Bourne but not for James Bond.

After Casino Royale’s excellent array of set pieces, Solace’s by comparison are actually worse than some of the stunts shown in the 60’s. It’s frustrating because a kung-fu segment in an elevator, a high-speed car chase through Italy and even a falling plane look like crazy and exhilarating segments on paper.

The harsh truth though is that the 60’s get the nod here – at least in those films you could see what’s going on.

Instead we get 60-scenes a second showing extreme close-ups, blurred images, shaky camera work and generally a variety of unpleasant and annoying tropes. It’s like riding the Teacups at a fairground but for some reason your spinner is 100x faster than you expected.

The dizziness quickly turns to an unpleasant sense of nausea and you just want to get off and stop. That is literally what Quantum Of Solace’s action scenes feel like.

Daniel Craig does the best he can do with the material but there’s really little scope to progress out of the nasty killer he is here. He kills people without thinking twice, throws bodies in dumpsters and generally shows little regard for anyone who’s shown him a shred of kindness in the past. While it’s understandable he doesn’t trust anyone, there’s no moment of vulnerability here to level out his character.

Perhaps most frustratingly is just how much potential there could have been for Dominic Greene in all this. Mathieu Amalric has a great presence on screen; a nasty streak that could have evolved into something great. Instead we get a bumbling axe-wielding dude who wants to take over a water supply for nefarious means.

When you compare this to Casino Royale it’s really night and day how different the two are. Casino Royale gave Bond time to dwell on his actions and gave him a couple of vulnerable moments to open up and show a softer side.

There’s none of that here and absolutely nothing to suggest this is even a Bond film. If you slapped any other title on this and changed the lead character it would be difficult to discern the difference.

Therein lies the biggest problem with Quantum Of Solace. It’s not a Bond film. It’s not a good movie. And it’s certainly not worth watching.

Not only does the film fail to hold up today, it’s actually somehow a worse title 12 years later than it was at release. It’s poorly shot, sloppily edited and generally an unpleasant experience that’ll have you reaching for the fast forward button.

I honestly had to move my phone into another room while watching to avoid turning away from this – it’s that bad. Quantum Of Solace is a perfect example of how not to make a James Bond movie. Unless that experience is a nauseating rollercoaster you want to leave of course.

In that case, Quantum Of Solace certainly achieves its goal. This is one ride you won’t be returning to in a hurry and to be honest, it’s probably advisable never to return again if you can help it.


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