Quantum of Solace

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Quantum of Solace
Review (-/10)
(By Paul Fischer)

The twenty-second Bond film arrives amidst huge expectations and it is a curious work, with some stunning set pieces amidst a flurry of extraneous action scenes. This would be the first time in the franchise's history that a Bond film be a direct sequel to its predecessor, "Casino Royale", itself a strong adaptation of the Fleming novel.

However, insisting on taking the character on an extended journey from 'Royale', screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis have concocted a rather dark and sinister tale and a consistently darker interpretation of the character that was never part of either the Fleming basis of the character or previous interpretations from Sean Connery to Timothy Dalton. Craig's 007 is a little lighter in tone than in 'Royale' but his thirst for revenge plays havoc with an iconic character who, in 'Solace', is very grim. Of course the Bond films have never been about character development, and this one is no exception.

The film opens with a frenetic car chase through the back streets of Sienna, Italy and while it opens with a bang, not a whimper, its fast cutting visual approach employed by director Marc Forster doesn't serve the film that well. One has the distinct feeling that the opening is a generic action film and takes some time for it to settle into a Bond-like rhythm. Once it does so, "Quantum of Solace" evolves into a fine work, offering some verbal drollery that "Casino Royale" lacked.

There are some stunning set pieces in 'Solace' that prove what a formidable filmmaker Forster is, including a collage sequence during the staging of an opera which is beautifully done, counterbalancing the tragedy of that Puccini opera with gun play between Bond and those that make up this secret Quantum organization that Bond is trying to pull down.

There is an extraordinary mid-air chase sequence which is breathtaking, and cinematographer Roberto Schaefer, a frequent collaborator of Forster's, knows how to shoot in the film's disparate locations, accentuating a striking visual tone for the major locales that range from Haiti to earthly browns that represent Bolivia. Sharply edited by Matt Chesse, who cut many of Forster's films including the likes of Kite Runner and Finding Neverland, edits with precision, and Forster's direction is crisp.

Clocking in well under two hours, the shortest Bond film in years, one wonders how much was cut as the film's narrative seems to be less fluid than in 'Royale' and other Bond films, but Forster does elicit first rate performances from the fabulous Mathieu Amalric who makes for an interesting, complex villain, and the luminous Olga Kurylenko who is a very different Bond girl from what we are used to.

"Quantum of Solace" is visually striking and moves at a frenetic pace, but its over abundance of action sequences detract from a fluidity that is needed. Ardent fans of 007 will long for a return of a more charming, humorous Bond, but then the Connery films are in a league of their own. The film's title song is also mediocre and seems to suggest that the franchise caters for a young audience without really doing justice to Fleming's creation.

'Solace' is not a bad film by any means; it's energetic, entertaining and looks stunning. One hopes that moving forward the franchise develops the sly sense of humour that beautifully defined the earlier films. "Quantum of Solace" is a superb action film but only a 'good' Bond movie.


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