Solace - (n) alleviation or comfort
Quantum of Solace - (?) Absolutely meaningless. Not explained through any medium, specifically the 2008 film Quantum of Solace.
Bond is back and he's...not as good as he should have been in yet another 007 film. Quantum of Solace marks the 22nd official James Bond film of the EON Productions franchise, the 25th James Bond film of all time, and only the 2nd James Bond movie I've ever seen. Although Ian Fleming's character is not my cup of tea, I do know what to expect from the man. As I sat down to watch Quantum of Solace I nestled myself into my chair and waited to be astounded by the gadgets and fancy cars that make Bond so recognizable. What I received was a poorly filmed, sloppily scripted, decently acted hodge-podge that did not capture the spirit of a James Bond film at all. Being only somewhat entertained by 2006's hugely successful Casino Royale, I was surprised to find that I actually prefer that film over this one. Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, with only a 20 minute gap between the films. The plot to this film is nearly incomprehensible. I actually had to check the internet for a plot synopsis when I got home to make sure I wouldn't make a mistake in my review. According to Wikipedia, the film follows James Bond (Daniel Craig) as he tries to prevent a group called the "Quantum" from executing a coup d'etat in the country of Brazil. His main focus is on Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), an "environmentalist" who seems to be spearheading the whole operation. Helping Bond in his fight is Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a woman whose family was killed by the very man attempting to take power in Brazil. At the same time, Bond is also seeking revenge for the death of the only woman he ever loved, Vesper Lynd. (This plot synopsis took me a week and a half to write, mainly because I had a lot of trouble putting it into words that were understandable. It's not my best work, but it'll do.)
There are not many good things to say about Quantum of Solace. Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade all returned as writers for this film, but failed to live up to the precedent set by their previous work on Casino Royale. They created a lackadaisical script that doesn't explain itself very well, and was far too reliant on the first film. It is understandable that a sequel will use the original film as a jumping off point, but you would need to watch Casino Royale immediately before watching this film to get anything! If you've never seen the first film and you plan on watching Quantum, good luck. These writers also abandoned the use of plot development for this film, turning it into an hour and 45 minute marathon of explosions. One of the few things I enjoyed about Casino Royale was that it followed a well thought out script and centered on characters that you learned a lot about. Quantum of Solace gives no backstory to many of the characters, leaving you in the dark when it comes to actually caring about what happens. The shift in director could also be to blame for the mediocre downslope the franchise took in just 2 movies. Marc Foster took the reigns from Martin Campbell, and I would like to take this opportunity to ask him to give them back. Quantum of Solace is the first action film to hit Foster's resume which is comprised of serious pictures such as The Kite Runner and Monster's Ball. From this, it is no wonder Foster seemed out of his element helming a James Bond film. His camera work was utterly dreadful in even the simplest shot. Every action sequence looked as though the man holding the camera was having a seizure. Foster also manages to take all of the intensity and anticipation out of a long awaited film that should have kept the audiences heart's racing. Quantum offers no build up to a final resolution, and the showdown between Bond and Greene was so lackluster that I didn't even realize it was the final showdown until the movie ended five minutes later.
If there is a positive thing to say about Quantum of Solace, it is that Daniel Craig is just as dynamic as he was in Casino Royale as the suave super agent James Bond. His performance alone keeps this film out of the dollar movie bin at Stop & Shop. His dedication to the role actually had me believing it is that easy to be entangled in a series of ropes yet still have the ability to accurately shoot a gun. Sadly, not many of the people around Craig were very convincing. Olga Kurylenko, whose most recent films include Max Payne and Hitman, pretty much lives up to her resume in her role as Bond girl Camille. A flat performance topped off by an inability to understand a word she says really doesn't do much to make the film respectable. In some scenes, Kurylenko's character discusses some grim memories of her family being killed. An actress of higher caliber would have been able to make this monologue memorable, but instead I was left straining my ears, struggling to comprehend the words that were heavily coated in a thick accent. Mathieu Amalric is not bad playing the villain Dominic Greene and is sometimes very engaging. But a one dimensional character makes his villain a forgettable and fruitless minor inconvenience.
Quantum of Solace is (mercifully) the shortest Bond film in the franchise, and I believe that may have been a disadvantage to the film. Perhaps the writers were afraid they would lose the audiences attention if they made the film too long. Whatever the reason, added length could have given Quantum of Solace the honor of being told properly with much more development. But it is futile to sit here pondering "what if's" and I must talk about the film for what it was. With only one and a half good performances, Quantum of Solace is nothing more than a a brief itch that once scratched is gone from your mind for the rest of your life. My rating (3/10)