The 22nd official “James Bond” film “Quantum of Solace” evolves with its focus on character development and emotional baggage. It yields into certain characterizations that are quite different from the usual “Bond” movie. This time, it seems to promote more psychological depth within the expected explosions galore and elaborate chase and fight scenes. Considerably darker, the film does this while utilizing its theme on revenge. The evolution of the “James Bond” canon has come accordingly as its story gets updated with today’s culture climate and modernity.
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A bleak continuation of the “Casino Royal” storyline, “Quantum of Solace” draws a certain irony to the people’s technological dependence, struggle for power, money, and oil with the more human, emotional, revenge-filled character of Daniel Craig’s James Bond. With the movie being filled with shades-of-gray complexities, it shows a thoughtful rumination on vengeance and what it does to him and the people around him. After the death of his loved one, he sets out to stop a corporate villain masquerading as an environmentalist from taking control of a country’s water supply.
The question is: Will “Quantum of Solace” satisfy most “Bond” fans? Spanning generations of followers for decades now, this “007” film can either be something to accept or something to thrash. Given its kind of action and characterization, it kind of overshadows the typical Bond character. For those who are more accepting of change, they would probably appreciate Bond’s new character outside that urbane girl magnet who frequently tosses off kick ass comic one-liners. The “Craig Bond” replaces this by stoic and psychological stares of a man who drinks martini shaken, not stirred. This time, he is more “human” compared to the usual macho charisma of the original Bond character whose action scenes would exercise all the license to thrill through purely escapist stunts.
For those who would rather keep the original testosterone display of elaborately orchestrated “Bond” excitement, humor, and flight of fancy action, they might feel a little disappointed with “Quantum of Solace.”
The change of pace is not that surprising considering the filmography of director Marc Forster who is known for tearjerking and emotional films such as “Kite Runner,” “Finding Neverland,” and “Monster’s Ball.” Clearly, he is not the type who would probably just yield to all-action and mere explosion tossed with fun and sophisticated machismo. He would want to put enough dimension of character to his film, while still utilizing the thrilling action scenes and set pieces the “Bond” franchise is known for.
Forster keeps the spy thriller mood and injects some artsy atmosphere to some of his scenes including that of the opera sequence, which works well for the aesthetics and building up of tone. However, what comes after such offer is a mere switch back to the typical mainstream flick moment. The too sudden change of pace and treatment actually destroys the already built up quality mood.
“Quantum of Solace” maintains its top-notch production values with some elements paying homage to past “Bond” films. It still has the Bond girl essentials plus the big fight scenes and blasts to expect. The jarring editing and artsy touches promote a generally frenetic pace. The opening sequence with the car chasing scene preps up the viewer for the breathless mood filled with thrilling action only a “James Bond” movie can offer.
A particular weakness of the film is that some of its chasing scenes tend to look too similar and familiar to one other in a not very pleasing way – slightly putting the film down.
Overall, Daniel Craig has that charm, charisma, and confidence needed to play James Bond. And for this franchise offer, Forster allows him the latitude to explore more of his emotions amidst the big action stunts. He pretty much delivers a solid action-drama about an angry, angst-ridden spy. He explores more of what the Bond character could be as a human being. With this, Craig becomes a more thinking actor for the role without dumbing himself down in the process.
As expected, Judi Dench as M is ruthlessly good in her performance. Olga Kurylenko as the new Bond girl Camille carefully maintains the angst needed for her character, which makes her acting work on a certain level, amidst the fact that the scripting for her character is filled with loose ends. Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields fits her character well and so goes with antagonists Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene and Joaquin Cosio as General Medrano.
The film’s tone is as downbeat as its title. The solace is really there in terms of putting up such a character for an updated “James Bond” offer. Nevertheless, it’s still an enjoyable action-packed popcorn flick in its entirety.
Although some might not like the considerable change of route the film has made for the franchise, overall, it is still a dandy, clever addition to the diverse “Bond” series.