Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jesper Christensen, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench
Film matched beverage: Choc-mint martini (for Dominic Greene)
Synopsis: Following directly from the events of Casino Royale, Bond attempts to extract mission from Mr. White on the mysterious organisation Quantum. As he continues to follow the links in the chain, it is unclear whether his motives are professional, or if they are fueled by his hurt and anger over Vesper’s betrayal.
The biggest problem with this film is that it does follow Casino Royale. After the huge success with that film, Quantum had a huge weight of both anticipation and expectation. Unfortunately, this is a film that fails to live up to either, and while there are some spectacular elements to this film, and even quite a good story to it, there are also a number of distracting mis-steps that let the entire film down.
Most clearly, the action sequences in this film are handles very poorly. Forster, whilst having a strong background in drama, had not shot action before and it shows. The stunts themselves are expertly choreographed and performed, but it often feels like Forster was never happy with where his camera was pointed. He changes camera angle so often, it is enough to give one motion sickness. Rarely is there a single shot within an action sequence that lasts longer than five seconds, and often they are much shorter still. In addition, the opening twenty minutes of the film features three action sequences, a period of time that also squeezes in the opening credits. So clearly another area this film fails is in pacing, the action hijacking the rest of th plot, leaving audiences confused how they moved from point A to point B in the process.
Aaaah yes, mentioning the opening credits brings me to the theme by Jack White and Alicia Keys. Admittedly, it is not worse than Madonna’s attempt at a Bond theme, but it is not much better. Having already heard Adele’s theme for Skyfall, it seems we are finally getting the picture, that Bond audiences know what a Bond theme should sound like, and we are returning to that tradition. If only this film could also have stuck with another tradition. Why on earth put the James Bond gunbarrel sequence at the end of the film??? Sheer madness I tell you!! The famous gunbarrel sequence transports you out of reality and into the anticipation of a Bond film. I believe Mendes also has the gunbarrel at the end of Skyfall, but at least in his case he has told fans he tried his best, but that it does not work with his opening shot. So I wait until Bond 24….
My review to this point is full of vitriol, and that is a shame, because as referred to earlier, there is a lot to commend this film for. Kurylenko’s Bond girl, though not necessarily well acted, is well written, and could have been an interesting damaged soul counterpoint to Bond’s current fractured psyche. The fact that the impact of Vesper’s death on Bond is examined in great detail I think was also a very smart move. This is a Bond that does not move on to future adventures forgetting the past. Vesper has an understandable lasting impact, and that deserves to be covered in film just as it was in the novels.
Having a new “big bad” organisation is also a plus, and the concept of a group that is everywhere that no one knows anything about is itself a great idea. However, even great ideas can be poorly executed, and audiences are already ambivalent towards Quantum. It is not due to appear in Skyfall, but I hope they do bring it back, as it will provide a nice common thread between films is done correctly. A break from it is no bad thing though. After all Goldfinger had no mention of SPECTRE, yet that did not prevent their appearance in Thunderball from being iconic.
As for how this Blu-Ray is included in the box set,I am a little disappointed. All the other discs in the set featured a similar menu set up and feel like they all belong together. The Quantum of solace disc has had no changes from the original Blu-Ray release, and as a result lacks cohesion. It even still has a collection of trailers at the beginning for films that have no current relevance. Very lazy!!
All said and done, this is not a terrible film. It certainly does not sink to the levels of poorness some other Bond films have done. However there is a great story poorly executed, and that is the true crime. I welcome seeing Skyfall tonight to help wash the memories of its predecessor away.
3 stars out of 5
Choc-Mint Martini recipe
2 parts creme de cacao
1 part creme de menthe
Shaken over ice and served in a cocktail glass. Garnish with milk chocolate flakes.