Film Review: Quantum Of Solace

And so, the end is near. I can now officially say that I am part of a very nonexclusive club of people who have watched every Bond film. I’ve shared 23 missions with Britain’s best loved spy. And while we’ve had some impressive ups, some seriously low lows and a lot of filler in between, the friendship is strong and continuing.

Annoyingly though, our time for now is drawing to a close with Quantum of Solace. The last film in the “50 years of Bond” box set and therefore, until the 24th and as yet untitled film hit’s cinema’s in November 2015 is likely to be my lasting remembrance of Bond as Skyfall, arguably his and Craig’s finest outing, being a cinema treat rather than a home DVD experience.

Quantum of Solace has problems, issues, call them what you like. This film has some major flaws to the point that you question whether it should have been released or shelved. You almost feel that after the acclaim that was heaped on Casino Royale they wanted to rush out Craig again and Quantum of Solace was the vehicle to do it. However, based title only, on Flemming’s works the move sadly, walked straight into the 2007-2008 screenwriters strike, and such was it’s effect that you even have Craig writing parts and sequences of the film to help get it finished.

As a result, nothing feels connected. The plot almost feels like it’s been designed not with thought and plan but rather post it notes and PVA glue. There is almost a sense that the script has been compiled by simply taking every idea and angle and mashing them together, with the final result then given to a director who seems to have wanted to make a specific style of film without looking to see if the source material was capable of supporting it.

I am still not exactly sure what Quantum of Solace is exactly about. Everything seems a bit washed over with nothing ever really explained or examined properly. You have a villain, Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric, that just doesn’t look right. He’s too nice, too geeky, too friendly. I know they made a conscious decision to move his character away from the tough guy “mad man” villains that Bond has been dogged with over the years, but he’s gone too far the other way. Especially when you then combine this to a film which not only, verges on the grotesquely violent but also seems to simply stumble from action sequence to action sequence, with the story line being more a distraction from the stunts than the tradition other way round.

I am sure it’s all down to the writers’ strike and the old “too many cooks” adage that has caused this problem with the plot and storyline virtually nonexistent and noticeable in it’s failure to convince or convey. It doesn’t help that as a tie to Craig’s reinvention of Bond in Casino Royale they have brought back to the story previous characters and relationships. The continuing development of the Mother/Son relationship between Bond and M, the use of Mathis as the fixer and annoyingly, worse the washed out and confused use of Felix Leiter, a character so important to the franchise as a whole, as someone torn between loyalty and friendship deserve more than the glancing explanation they are ever given. A fleeting line that is forgotten as quickly as it is delivered serves to add nothing.

There is, however, one thing that I must mention and also find intriguing. The naked “Bond Girls” in the title sequence are back; While intriguing, I actually find this also slightly strange because this film tries on so many levels to break the traditions of nostalgia within the Bond franchise that to return something that is almost as iconic as the main character himself seems a bizarre turn or events.

And it’s when you start to look at the beyond storyboard elements to the film, to the smaller, almost unimportant elements, the technical side of the film: the style of photography, the cinematography and the soundscape you suddenly realise there is one major flaw with this film. It’s total lack of continuity. The style of film making changes on a whim and breaks up the flow and feel of the film. You’ll have dramatic slow paced planning shots married up to fast rapid fire cuts and tilt shift photography. It just muddles the world in which you are being taken and with such a poor script and plot to fall back to, this results in a film which sadly misses with every shot fired.

Even the use of sound through the film feels removed from the action. It’s attempting to be modern and yet suffers because while an orchestra can get the heart racing seeing Bond leap out of a plane, sans parachute, doesn’t quite have the same impact when accompanied by an indie rock rift.

People are harsh on this film. Professional film critic Mark Kermode refers to it, not as Quantum of Solace but rather Question of Sport. Even Roger Moore was scathing towards everything except Craig, calling it a “disjointed commercial“. And if you haven’t quite gathered it, I really don’t like it either.

I think the easiest way to sum it up is by saying that while I actually own it on both DVD and Blu-ray, having purchased it when it first came out on DVD and then gaining a second copy as part of the aforementioned box set. I’ve, therefore, seen it a fair few times in the 6 years since its release and yet as it started I didn’t remember a thing about it. Where it was going, where it was taking me wasn’t even a distant memory, for 90 minutes it was disappointing me anew and, honestly, I only remembered the final 10 minutes, the big final explosion, when we got to it because it’s so poor and out of place you can never forget it!

Bye-Bye Bond, our time has been fun. I’m just sad it’s finished on such a poor note.

4 out of 10 stars (4 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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