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Quantum of Solace

Film Two Stars
Well it took me a while to go and see the new James Bond film, and that wasn't just down to illness, I was slightly sceptical of how good Quantum of Solace was going to be after hearing some pre-release reviews.

However I do love James Bond, and I have loved these films in the past when they've tried to modernise and toughen the character, as they did with Timothy Dalton and slightly in Pierce Brosnan's last film. Now though they've gone all the way with Daniel Craig, and Casino Royale (Filmstalker review) was a master stroke for the Bond franchise.

So could Marc Forster manage to carry that on with the second film. Let me put you out of your misery now. Absolutely not.

QuantumofSolace.jpgI was thoroughly disappointed with Quantum of Solace for many reasons, but first let's look at the plot and see where we are with this film.


Plot.pngQuantum of Solace starts off pretty much where Casino Royale (Filmstalker review) left off. Bond has met with Mr White of this mysterious organisation and has bundled him into the back of his Aston Martin heading off to have him interrogated.

It's here that he and M discover first hand that the organisation is much bigger than they first thought. From this moment on Bond is on the chase, and once again he's going against his own guys and M is unhappy.

His chase leads him to the next step in the organisation, a man who is overthrowing a South African country's leader in order to gain a large piece of desert. What everyone doesn't know is that there's something special about that desert, something that they've been preparing for some time. It doesn't end there though, they're also playing the CIA for oil rights in order to be left alone, something Bond and M don't agree with.

Along the way Bond meets Camille, played by Olga Kurylenko, who is out for revenge against the man who will be the new leader of the country, and they form an alliance of convenience to achieve both their goals.


TheFilm.pngI have to open with the biggest problem I found with this film, and it struck me within a few minutes of the film, let up briefly for about a minute, and then just kept getting worse and worse even to the final scenes. The editing.

If you read my reviews you'll know that I hate the Bourne style of editing, close cropped and two to three cuts every second, hide the fact that the actors can't do have the stunts, and fast cut to give the impression of excitement and pace, because that seems to be the only way to do it these days.

However Quantum of Solace was much worse than that. The action scenes were, at times, nigh on incomprehensible, and once again there was the feeling of catch up – not seeing the action happening and being engrossed by it, but during a slower cut realising what had just happened through the last few moments.

What's even worse about the way that the editing is used in Quantum of Solace is that it starts to cut apart the story, particularly at the ending of the film. You know looking back on the film as the credits rolled I wondered just how much extra there was of the film sitting on the cutting room floor, and perhaps a director's cut might just deliver an extra twenty to thirty minutes.

The opening of the film sets the tone, and I have to admit as the camera flies over the water, zooms into the tunnel, and we hear the wonderful sound of the Aston Martin racing along, my heart began racing, a smile leapt to my face and I was caught.

Within seconds that was gone as the action began and we began to see cuts of up to three to four a second and so tightly cropped that it's hard to see what's happening as it happens. I remember getting a sense of something sticking through the car door, and only because we had a close cropped shot of something sticking out from somewhere near the front of the truck, then the car hitting the truck, and Bond looking down a couple of times at his door. We did see something there in a couple of fast cuts, but again it was so closely cropped I didn't have any awareness of where it was.

I was marvelling at some of the car deaths, but not truly understanding what had happened to get the car there, sure the stunts were amazing, but frankly they were destroyed by the editing.

The following action sequence was similar, and I was struggling to keep up, but there was a reprise. The third action sequence saw Bond being attacked by a man with a knife, and rather than follow the same template as the rest of the film, the camera pulled right back to see them both and showed them fighting. Well done. Yet it's back to business as usual with the next action sequence.

The opening car fight sequence was pretty hammered by the editing, as was the much anticipated plane battle sequence which, while filming, was promised to be utterly spectacular. It had elements that were, but overall it was wasted. We got lots of two planes flying side by side and one doing some stunt flying on its own, then some panicked goings on inside the Dakota that Bond was flying before a few more powerful moments of climbing the plane to leap out.

However, like the first car sequence, the destruction of the bad guy seemed to be by accident and incompetence on the part of the aforementioned bad guy.

In the last big action sequences in the desert hotel the cutting started getting heavily into the story, not that it hadn't been before, but here it gets really bad.

There's the two separate fight sequences happening at the same time, not only do they cut the fights but they also cut between the two fights, ramp up the speed and the confusion. It ends up going something like this - oh she's done something that's hurt him, he's done something to hurt him, I think he's fallen off, oh the walkway has fallen...and that's how it goes.

The reason for the fire is even more unclear, jeep, shooting, reversing, crash, huge unexplained explosion, other things start exploding, fire through the hotel, and it's only when you see the final explosion about to be kicked off that you realise exactly what was going on, that and the previous explanation by an ancillary character.

As I said though, it's not just the action sequences, it's the story that gets hurt too. The biggest example of this is late on in the film where Bond walks out of a burning building and sees the man he's after running away across the desert. The next moment he's in a car driving along the desert – what, he's found a car and he's driving to get him I hear you say, that's not too surprising – oh no, for the next scene he gets out of the car and drags the man out of the boot – well he caught him and put him in there, that's not too much of a stretch I hear you retort – oh no, for the man reveals that he's already been interrogated and told him everything he needed.

That is probably the most extreme example of what happens in the film, but it happens a lot, cutting the story progression down in favour of leaping to the next over edited action scene that tries to out-Bourne Bourne.

There's a lot of unnecessary editing and leaping to different angles throughout the film, and something that was annoying me was the desire to grab every characters reaction to everything, at times it almost turns into a comedy sketch. In one scene in the hotel when the bad guys are all meeting and there's some revelation, the camera shows each character in turn with fast cuts – bang, bang, bang – oh look, they were all shocked. I really got bored of this after a while and started to anticipate it happening. It was getting to be a little bit of a joke.

Looking back on Quantum of Solace it feels fast, shiny and sparkly to attract your attention and go oooh, ahhh, rather than concentrate on the story and engage the audience, and that's a shame because there really are some strong points in the film.

Olga Kurylenko and Daniel Craig are good, actually I was more impressed with Kurylenko than anyone in the film. Both gave great performances.

The locations are superb, and the cinematography (when the camera stops) is wonderful, and there are some great teased Bond moments. For example the moment Bond says “I was looking for the stationary", that's a great moment and has Bond written all over it, or the Goldfinger-oil moment which was a lovely nod to the past, or future depending on how you view it.

There are some excellent moments in the development of the Bond character too, when he's holding his friend and talking to him comfortingly, Bond preparing Camille for her first kill, Bond holding Camille in the fiery room, Camille talking to Bond in the car about her feelings about revenge and what fulfilling it means to her, and how that ties in with the moment that Bond has his chance to exact his own revenge.

These are strong moments, and you really do feel the power in them, but even with these great moments the rest of the film is mishandled. Even that closing scene of revenge just seems to fizzle out and pass you by.

The ending after that was a bit poor as well and delivers the studio two options, stay with the concept and do a third film as they climb up through the Quantum organisation taking out more of the members, or leave it and move on.

Believe it or not I'd actually like to see them keep going, the story is an interesting one and it's just the film that harms the run of the new franchise. I like the idea of this big organisation manoeuvring events behind governments with MI6 racing to catch up with them. It's not just Bond growing up, it's M and the whole organisation.

Yet that leads me to one last negative aspect of the film. Quantum and the bad guy that leads the film. What exactly have they done wrong? How come they are so bad?

In this film the bad guy has made a few dodgy deals and played people off of each other to make some money, isn't that every international organisation in the world? He's not really that bad, okay there is one thing that suggests he's bad, one of his henchmen shoots someone. That would be the man that just feel onto his car from the rooftop and looks rather menacing, I think most armed bodyguards might react in a similar manner.

Still it doesn't warrant MI6 trying to track them all down and put them out of business and kill them one by one. Then what has Quantum done? They've loaned money to some other organisations who have used the money to do some bad things, yes that's every bank in the world barring the Co-operative Bank.

So MI6 and Bond are chasing after the members of an international bank and killing businessmen.


Overall.pngI think it's very clear what I thought of Quantum of Solace and exactly why I thought so. It's a clear disappointment for Bond fans and fans of Casino Royale, and yet it's getting better box office figures. Well that's probably from the hype of the previous film attracting potential new fans and the fact that it's running uncontested in the cinemas at the moment, so for those looking to watch the biggest film at the weekend, that's the one.

There will be those that will like it though, the MTV, Michael Bay, Bourne fans will recognise what they like – sharp, flashy, quick fire images which please the eye and get the heart racing through rapid flashes.

There are some strong moments in the film though, it's just a shame that they are lost in a sea of everything else. I do get the feeling that perhaps a director's cut could bring a longer film with more meat to it, particularly that missing ending, but until then this is an MTV Bond/Bourne for those with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


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Comments

While I agree with your concerns about the editing, I think you're overly harsh on the "It's a clear disappointment for Bond fans and fans of Casino Royale". The story is strong, the acting is good and the movie has the gritty feel that was rebooted with Royale. Yes, the editing spoils an otherwise excellent movie. I love the Bourne movies, but the editing in Quantum doesn't enhance anything, it takes away from it. However, it doesn't destroy a good film and people should still go and see it and they may find they enjoy it.

The story isn't strong. Bond goes to investigate a shady businessman who is either part of, or borrowing money from an international bank who have secret meetings in strange places.

Sure he's holding helping overthrow a South American leader and in the process selling rights to oil that might not be there and retaining water rights for himself, well that's the world we live in right or wrong, and it's hardly a terrifying Bond villain.

Yes he has big eyes, yellowish teeth and creeps around a little, scared of doing much except threatening women, but he's no Bond villain.

Bond and Camille are the strong part of the plot, and that takes up about twenty to thirty minutes of the film.

Completely agree. It's missing most of the 'Bond', the bits that make a Bond flick a Bond flick and not a Mission Impossible or Bourne. The editing is far too distracting, and blasphemous when it comes to the DBS, hardly got to see one of the prettiest cars in the world due to the editing style.

I hope they bring a 'propper' editor/director on board for the next one, and it would be nice to know what the Quantum are, as your right, at the moment we don't care about them.

Quantum of Solace was entertaining for sure, but sometimes i got the feeling that the movie was making fun of itself... everywhere pane of glass Bond crosses was broken, he can't get a gallon of milk from the store without it turning into a chase scene, and every time he punches someone in the face, they die

Personally I felt the story was pretty strong, it resolves a couple of threads (one of which I really liked) and leaves a couple hanging. It's clearly been written to lead into a third story, making Quantum the 'one in the middle', and as such potentially weaker in structure than it would have been as a stand alone story. I don't feel it's missing anything that made Bond, Bond. I think it's jettisoned the stuff that made Bond a cliche. And yep, I think it was poking fun at itself a little.

One of the very rare times I will disagree with my friend Richard here, but whose opinion I still highly regard.

I was advised not to bother with the film by I suppose well-meaning people but I am determined to see it regardless of and I wasn't a tad disappointed, unlike my dad who is a hard core Bond fan was really disappointd with it. I was surprised that there wasnt a lot of violence in it, or that it didnt have a lot of sex scenes like what is expected in the earlier Bond films and perhaps that was why it failed to appeal to some people.

I have to say I didnt bother taking the film seriously, looking into the technical aspects like editing or what-have-you, as it pushed all my buttons to what I was prepared to see that evening.

i am not sure taking Bond into an entirely new direction was the best gamble with Casino Royale then through to Quantum of Solace-sometimes an action piece is best experienced as a long and cleverly memorable part of the film and i must admit to Richard's observation-the action jumped -it was good but surgically edited possibly to try and squeeze less active screen time to allow emotional human interaction between the characters-If you enjoyed the prolific Ian Fleming's novels then Daniel Craig is the literary Bond personified on a visual level-Timothy Dalton was close to that characterisation-in my experience the people that read the books seem to appreciate Daniel's portrayal.And we cannot argue about the intellectuality of the storyline either because many of us -are aware that world politics is directed by an elite few -in all its glory of corruption and manipulation-Quantum is nothing more than the 'broadsheet' exploits of Illuminati groups that work on a global height.I reckon this will be a 'Quantum ' trilogy- this is all a far flung multi-dimensional interpretation of the Bond movies of yesteryear-in those days eccentric 'megalomaniac billionaires' tried to destory civilised worlds through imaginative weapons of mass destruction-now we have a more insidious weapon-'new world orders' who use lure of finance to transform socio-political landscapes to fit their belief of existence- sounds familiar anyone?????

I only recently watched the latest Bond film, and as a proud Bond fan of many years, i was sorely disappointed. i have to agree about the editing problem; it gets to the point where you just feel like telling the movie to slow down so we can see what is actually going on.
One thing I've found particularly different with these two films is it seems to be 'missing Bond'. Daniel always appears so serious! Where's the fun of Bond? The little witty remarks that Pearce Brosnan portrayed so well? What about Q and the gadgets? The only thing I can hope for is the next film develops his character to what we've all come to enjoy.
Overall I actually found the plot extremely hard to follow; in particular when people spoke I could barely hear what they were saying! Its really sad to say, but I honestly don't consider these true Bond films; but more as just action movies.

I didn't get this movie. LOL.

I must say, I actually enjoyed this film and I think given the test of time, it will hold up pretty well. Well I hope.

I wouldnt say that this was the worst Bond movie, thats still reserved for On Her Majestys Secret Service with George Lazenby but its certainly down there. Quantum Of Solace barely even registers as a Bond movie, no gadgets to speak of, the Aston Martin features in only the first 5 minutes, no light hearted humour anyway. All of the above are a big part of Bond movies in my opinion but are sadly lacking in this one. Right from the get go the editing was atrocious. The car chase would have been excellent had it not been so fast and furiously edited, then Bond chasing the bad guy around the rooftops, you could hardly tell who was who. I will say that as the movie went on it wasnt quite as bad but still not great.

I don't know, Lazenby was a not bad Bond, and the film tried to do something different with the franchise, something that Dalton did again and now Craig has managed to pull off. That more realistic and gritty Bond.

"I wouldnt say that this was the worst Bond movie, thats still reserved for On Her Majestys Secret Service with George Lazenby"

Really, have you seen the movie recently? OHMSS is one of the all time great Bond films and sticks very close to the Fleming novel. A lot of us write it off when we see it as a kid and can't get past the Connery/Moore sized hole, but once you get over that (and that silly line about "The Other Fellow" ) there's a cracking Bond movie to be enjoyed.

This is not a lone voice either, I think you'll find that most serious Bond fans feel the same way. Check out the DVD reviews on Amazon...

The film could have been a lot better, if the editing wasn't so bad. It's very realistic as to what it happening in Bolivia, which is by the way in South America. It's obviously based on the water war in Cochabamba in 2000. I thought Bolivia was portrayed as very bleak and boring. They could have made it shown so many more colors and really shown the beauty of that country. The music is good in the film. I kept hoping that Danjaq/EON would come back and rerelease the film with much better editing. Then it could be a really good film.

Hey Kees I don't think that it was solely the editing, I think we could add scripting and direction in there too.

I never realised that it was based on those events, I'm guessing it doesn't hold very close to the actual events though.

No one said me just about RSS submissions at rss submit service. But, I tried it. I used to be really surprised because of issues. They were cool. My internet site received good page rank!

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