Quantum of Suckiness

Movie title: Quantum of Solace (2008)
Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: PG-13
Director: Marc Forster
Producers: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Starring: Daniel Craig “James Bond,” Olga Kurylenko “Camille,” Mathieu Amalric “Dominic Greene,” Judi French “M,” Jeffrey Wright “Felix Leiter,” Gemma Arterton “Agent Fields”
Genre: Action/Thriller
Summation: Bond pursues a mysterious organization of organized crime in South America.
Spoilers ahead: No
In a word: Disappointing


I’ve always thought Daniel Craig is a good Bond. In fact, he makes a great Bond, giving Sean Connery a run for his money on more than a few levels. Craig gives Bond an athletic and modern, even a realistically “pretty boy” adjustment for a new day and age. He’s refined, he’s classy, he’s sharp, he’s eloquent and resolute, just enough so to compete with (and in some ways beat) old Connery’s Bond legacy. He also happens to be close enough in appearance to a Chip n’ Dales dancer to take the shaken-not-stirred-preferring, finessing lady-charmer strutting into the 21st century with turning heads. Casino Royale finely demonstrated that. The same can’t be said for Quantum of Solace, the ineptly directed and dry sequel to Royale.

I’ve never been a hugely devoted Bond fan, but I’m enough of an admirer to know a good Bond movie when I see one. Big-time Bond enthusiasts will be sorely disappointed with this one, I’m afraid. And what is it that Bond fans want? They want a charming Bond, a Bond with wit and a passion for wining and dining his way into the sack with the choicest ladies. They want a confident Bond, a sure-minded man with a mission. In Quantum of Solace, Bond may have a mission, but he has little else. And it’s not the fault of Craig who played his part well. It’s the fault of the director for dropping the ball on this one.

None of the traits that make James Bond who he is are here. Where was the character development? I didn’t like anyone. I didn’t care about anyone. I wasn’t afraid of anybody, much less interested. The dialogue was flat and the personal exchanges of nearly everyone were lifeless. It saddens me to say that I was actually bored most of the time, a few intense and well-choreographed close-quarter fighting scenes notwithstanding.

From the beginning, I was reminded of the Bourne series with the initial rooftop chase, and this isn’t a surprise as Marc Forster, the same guy who directed the Bourne series, directs the film. But mind you, Jason Bourne was a different guy. He struggled with himself. Bond should be just the opposite, and yet the film portrays him in nearly the same light. In fact, you could make Quantum of Solace a Bourne series movie and it would have been a stout improvement. Bad call, Mr. Forster! Bad call! The Bourne series was more enjoyable than this for the simple reason that Bourne remained consistent in character throughout every movie, but Bond is not Bond here. He’s not the Hemingway Hero we know. He’s someone else. Everything just felt wrong.

And by “everything” I meant the stunts as well. They were a touch too unbelievable, with close-by falling panes of glass to liven up fight scenes, and boat jumps that somehow manage to make other boats catch on fire and explode! The near maternal relationship between Bond and M was the only real connection in the film to the Bond we knew, but whipping the butts of an elevator full of fellow agents was yet another stretch in a movie that was already pulled too thin.

I enjoyed this just a little more than I did W. Movie, but less than Beverly Hills Chihuahua. That should tell you something, my friends! The plot was hazy. It tried to be complex and appealing, but it didn’t generate much interest the way it was developed. Everything seemed to race towards the action sequences—most of which were well done, but some of which were too abrupt, poorly alternating between action and story sequences, and always woefully lacking in finesse.

Add to that, even the title makes no clear sense. Every Bond movie has had a provocative title that tied in with the story, but I’ve yet to find a way “Quantum of Solace” applied to the film. But if one exists, it’s up to the director to ably develop the theme and bring out such facts, which it didn’t. And the villain, Dominic Greene, was totally forgettable and not at all flushed out. We learn nothing about his past or what drives him. Amalric does exhibit the right menacing quality for the role, but we’re never given anything else about him. The viewer is not prompted to inquire about anyone because the character development is so rotten.

Royale was deep and moving, but this was neither. The ending of the film was less than satisfying, as was the nearly ridiculous fate of Greene. The only way to appreciate the resolution of the film is to remember that Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale. To get the most out of the movie, Royale might ought to be watched again to be ready for this one. But be ye warned! The movie is too petty and too mundane to transcend the clutches of a typical Bourne-level fighting movie, making Quantum of Solace a big disappointment.