Sunday, November 16, 2008

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

Movie Title: Quantum of Solace
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright and Judi Dench.
Genre: Action/Adventure/Thriller
Directed by: Marc Foster
My Rating: 8/10

The 007 franchise reboot continues with Daniel Craig starring as the British super spy in a first time direct sequel in the history of Bond movies. QoS continues where Casino Royale last left us, with James Bond picking up Mr. White for interrogation regarding the "organization" and Vesper's (Bond's deceased flame) involvement. Alfa Romeos chasing the hero in an Aston Martin in the mountains of Siena, Italy start the film. Mind you, this movie doesn't start with the "James Bond shooting the screen and splattering blood all over" sequence either, and I do hope the next in the series has it. I won't give away much of the story, but will summarize the characters and flow a bit.

The Bond girls:
Ukranian model and actress Olga Kurylenko made her presence felt in the movie. She wasn't one of Bond's bimbos, but a femme fatale with some secrets in the past who works for the main baddie of this story. She isn't easily charmed by Bond, but is no Michelle Yeoh or Halle Berry as far as giving him the burn goes. The only fault was, she did not look South American one bit, not even with the ultra tan. I wouldn't hold that against her overall performance and character development, though. I look forward to seeing where her career goes from here, many Bond girls don't have much of a post-Bond career peak.

The other lady, a very young Gemma Arterton plays a British field agent based in Bolivia. Not a bad looker, red-headed, speaks with a polished London accent and hardly an ass-kicker. The weaker one of the Bond girls, as there always is.

The villains:
French actor Mathieu Amalric made his mark in English movies with his short but powerful role in Steven Spielberg's Munich, and was an excellent choice to play a Bond baddie. However, he wasn't given enough screen time as he deserved, thereby his character didn't have a chance to establish well with the audience. As a natural resources baron, Amalric's Dominic Green helps a Bolivian general stage a coup d'etat, with the blessing of the American C.I.A., and in return get a certain block of desert which could potentially be an oil field, or just a water dam to hold off water from the famished locals and distribute through the black market (like in Somalia). Hopefully when the DVD for QoS comes out, they'll add about 15 minutes more of Greene's screen time.

Mexican cine veteran JoaquĆ­n Cosio plays the ruthless Bolivian general who wishes to topple the government and rule the country on his own. Even though his character wasn't very likable and his last scene was a little graphic for a Bond movie, he did deserve a couple of more minutes in the first half for better character establishment.

The love-hate Bond aides:
James Bond may say he doesn't have any friends, maybe because he isn't always in their good books. Starting with his MI6 chief still known as M, played gracefully by Dame Judi Dench for the sixth time. Every time Bond catches a suspect, she is impressed. Every time a lead or agent gets killed and Bond is to blame, she asks for his head. James Bond even jokes in one scene that M likes to think she's his mother!

Bond's to be best-and-maybe-only-true C.I.A. ally was played by Jeffrey Wright just like in Casino Royale. A man of conscience, somewhat hesitant to collaborate with baddies, has some instinctive trust in 007, and always has time for a beer and a laugh, even when the marines come barging in. Wright, in my opinion, is an excellent American actor whose true potential is yet to be unveiled. Hopefully his performance in the upcoming Cadillac Records will earn him praise from the critics and audience alike.

Italian veteran Giancarlo Giannini returns as former MI6 associate Mathis, who helps Bond once the agency freezes his assets.

Finally, the flow.
The movie was very fast-paced. The chase at the beginning was rather well done. It was sometimes hard to pay enough attention to the dialogue because I was still recovering from inertia created by the action scenes. The Bourne movies of late have set the bar for action movies so high that even the Bond franchise could have a hard time catching up. The gun shots did sound real, however. If you have been to a shooting range once, or remember a shooting you heard outside your school as a kid, you will know that gunshots do not have a musical sound like they've made to sound in most movies.

For long-time Bond enthusiasts, this movie lacks gadgets. Completely. And somehow I was okay with that. Casino Royale had a few gadgets - in the car etc.. This time, Bond had a simple cellphone, it wasn't even a touch screen that everyone seems to flaunt around these days. The only paranormal thing that this handset could do was take pictures from far-far away. It was probably a 10 mega pixel camera, which is possible to have in a phone, and would always meet a 007 budget.

One thing reminiscent of the classic Bond movies, was how a villain got to Bond by "decorating" the weaker Bond girl. I won't say more, and spare you any spoilers.

This was a great movie! It did not have the novelty like its predecessor, Casino Royale, did. But provided a closure. The next movie in the series will probably be a new episode altogether. I will be surprised if a 70+ Judi Dench will return as M.

8/10. Shaken, not stirred.

P.S. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Actually, I forgot, then remembered. The theme song! Jack White (White Stripes/Raconteurs) and Alicia Keys sang a duet for the first time in 007 movie history, called "Another Way to Die." I am personally a fan of both the musicians, but the song seems like it was written and composed in a bit of hurry. Bond producers should have kept Amy Winehouse's song no matter what. Anyway, here's the video for that song, judge for yourself:

4 comments: said...

well put. in terms of a story, the story lacked something - i suppose because it was essentially a wrap up of the last. Plus, Quantum of Solace is but a chapter in one of the original books, so...

JoBrad said...

Chris is right...not the best from a story perspective, but the action was great. I wasn't too disappointed.

fishdog said...

i loved it. helluva ride... very Bourne-esque, if you will. didn't mind the thin story due to the action, and it all didn't see very forced to me. The fight scene in the hotel room with the knives was one of the most realistic I think I've ever seen.

I hear that the next film will bring back the suave and gadgets, but keep the ass-kicking edge.

Am I the only one impressed how Bond keeps his composure throughout his action? that just underscores how much of a bad-ass he is.

As for the opening sequence, I rather enjoyed the song, but thought a bit of the imagery was weak. some cool effects with the sand spray, though (especially one cut where his silhouette falls from the top and disperses the falling sand...).

I second your 8/10 and can't wait to see the expanded dvd.

Farah said...

Very well written, even though I di'nt get the remote chance to watch the movie yet!

Btw, this blogger keeps forgetting to comment on the male actors who are also a part of the movies! LOL.

Kidding Irfan, thats an amazing write up.