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Quantum of Solace (2008) Director Marc Forster 9 November 2008

Posted by jordanfarley in Uncategorized.
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The latest James Bond film arrived on the big screen last week to largely negative reviews in the press, but is the criticism warranted? For the most part sadly, yes.

Perhaps the biggest failing of QoS is that it simply does not live up to Casino Royale. That film reinvented Bond for the Bourne generation and was easily the best Bond film since Goldeneye, if not Goldfinger. But I jump ahead of myself. The plot is much more straight forward this time around, picking up mere minutes after the climax of Casino Royale (it’s essential to see Craig’s first foray as Bond before seeing QoS to understand key elements of the story), action scene after action scene eventually leads Bond to the sinister Quantum organisation, a shadowy network of villains much in the vein of SPECTRE from the Connery era. Bond gets a lead on one member of Quantum, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric) an apparent eco-friendly businessman who runs a much more sinister and lucrative secret operations assisting in the overthrow of governments and the acquisition of all the water resources in Bolivia for financial gain. Throw in a tough Bond girl Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who is seeking revenge, much like Bond, for the people she loved, her family, and that’s about it as far as plot goes. The script was clearly a victim of the writer’s strike earlier this year and possesses non of the emotional depth of Casino Royale nor any of the intrigue of the Bourne films.

Craig is yet again faultless as Bond and if screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis can give Craig more good scripts to work with he may well overtake Connery as the best Bond in my eye. As it is we see much less of Craig’s range in this film which largely calls for him to be either a) moody b)fighting/being chased or c)shirtless. It’s no fault of his own but Craig fails to impress as much this time around.
Mathieu Almaric too is wasted in his two dimensional villain role. For an actor who blew me away not so long ago in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly it’s a shame to see all pretenses to create a complex villain reduced to a sneering, axe wielding maniac in the films final act. Kurylenko and of course Judi Dench as M fare best out of the primary cast, creating strong female figures that counter the Bond testosterone overload perfectly, though it’s a shame Camille’s quest for revenge had to mirror Bond’s so closely as this seemed to take away from what should have been the emotional heart of the film.

The action set pieces for the most part are pretty enjoyable, although the are far too many of them in the opening hour and ‘explosive’ finale is unfortunately the most overwhelming of the lot, save perhaps for the aeroplane chase which has one of the most ridiculous climaxes to an action scene in Bond history.

Director Forster does his best to do big budget action here but his style is much more suited to smaller pictures and the art house sensibilities he brings to QoS don’t quite sit right. One of my biggest criticisms of the film however is the horrendous editing it suffers from. The structure of the story was far from perfect to start with but the preposterously short edit time Forster, Richard Pearson and Matt Cheese had means a lot of the scenes are sloppy and lack the visceral sense Paul Greengrass managed to infuse his two Bourne installments with.

I have been overly critical of QoS largely because it is much more likely to disappoint than live up to Casino Royale in most people’s eyes. The film is more than half and hour shorter than Royale and suffers from a rushed ending as a result. It’s a shame the film had to come out when it did, the project would have been much better served by a few extra months at the script stage and a much longer time to edit, but there is a lot to like and it’s certainly not the disaster many are claiming it to be.

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