Film Review: Quantum of Solace

November 17, 2008

Bourne. James Bourne.

If I had to summarize the new James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” in three words or less, those are probably the three (two?) words I’d use.

With this film, director Marc Forster (better known for directing far superior films such as “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland”) has achieved the dubious distinction of creating essentially a clone of a Jason Bourne movie, but without the plot — a somewhat unsettling thing when one considers that the Bourne trilogy was fairly light on plot.

Here is a film that amounts to little more than an amalgam of chases (by car, but mostly by foot) and ass-kickings, with the kind of cut-cut-cut editing that we’ve come to expect from cheap thrillers and Michael Bay films.

Of course, there’s nothing cheap about “Quantum of Solace”; this is to be expected from a film with a budget of $230 million, much of which was apparently allocated for “things that go boom.” Everything looks beautiful, from the lovely scenery in what seems like every single country on Earth to the raging infernos that the lovely scenery is soon turned to. That’s wonderful. However, this movie is like a beautiful woman with nothing going on upstairs; she sure is stunning, yet you can’t help but wonder how great she’d be if there was some substance.

The storyline amounts to this: Bond (Daniel Craig, slick as a Bond ought to be, but darker than any other Bond has been), understandably upset over the betrayal and subsequent death of his girlfriend Vesper Lynd (you’re going to want to see 2006’s “Casino Royale,” if you can bear the mind-numbing final half-hour of it, before you watch “Quantum of Solace”), pursues the people responsible for forcing Vesper to betray him, which leads him to an organization called Quantum. Quantum is headed up by a fellow named Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), who is apparently a very bad man with a master plot to organize a coup in Bolivia so he can, um, take over the water supply and make a lot of money from selling the water to the new government.

Yes, the Bond villain is an environmentalist gone horribly wrong. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to care. Let’s put it like this: most everyone is all for people having drinkable water, but this man organizing a military coup in Bolivia so he can turn a neat profit hardly feels as though it threatens the very fabric of our existence, and to call his connection to the man who conned Vesper into betraying Bond tenuous would be an understatement. Apparently, we are supposed to understand that this man worked for Quantum, even though he is in no way involved in this storyline.

Oh, yes. There is a girl. Her name is Camille, and she’s played by Olga Kurylenko, who you may know from her very similar role (but, oddly, with more sex) in 2007’s “Hitman.” Kurylenko is certainly pretty enough for the role, but more importantly, Camille actually has some emotional involvement with the front-and-center storyline, which almost makes this film hers more than it is Bond’s. It seems that when Camille was a child, the general who Greene wants to install as the Bolivian dictator personally killed her father and raped and murdered her mother and sister before burning her house down. Also, we learn in passing, she’s some kind of secret agent for the Bolivian government, but apparently that doesn’t sufficiently motivate her to prevent this coup.

So, as you might expect, the film is roughly 100 minutes of Bond, occasionally with help, running and shooting and punching and stabbing and exploding his way to the top of Quantum, all while M (Judy Dench) makes a lot of displeased noises at all the killing and the audience wonders what in the name of Roger Moore this all has to do with Vesper’s boyfriend.

And the answer is: something. But you pretty much have to read the plot description to understand what, and even when you do, you won’t understand why the last five minutes of the film needed to come after the first hundred.

But at least it looks pretty.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: