While still on the hunt for the people responsible for the death of his gal pal Vesper (this installment picks up mere minutes after the end of Royale), James Bond (Craig) discovers a plot by energy tycoon Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) to corner the market on the world's most precious natural resource. It is part of a much bigger scheme by Quantum, a notorious criminal syndicate, to influence events in the world. They include the overthrow of the current Bolivian government, the installation of former military dictator General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio) there, and a continued stranglehold on world intelligence. Under the suspicious eye of MI6 director M (Judi Dench), Bond sets out to uncover the plot, determine the purpose of Quantum, and get revenge. He is helped by a young Russian girl named Camille (Olga Kurylenko). She has her own personal motives for getting even with these villainous bad men.
It's finally happened. After coming close to catching the disease several times since Jason Bourne redefined the spy thriller, James Bond has finally succumbed to "AASS" -- ADD-inspired Action Sequence Syndrome. It's not the deadliest of cinematic diseases, but it can often be the most annoying. Quantum of Solace is so jam-packed with stuntwork, shootouts, and standoffs that the conspiracy-oriented plot can barely get a word in edgewise. Everything Bond does is followed by some battle or another. He gets a message at his hotel desk. He chases the bad guys. He prepares to bed a babe. He fends off unwanted assailants. M gives him yet another in a series of grand dame dressing downs. He whips out his trusty sidearm and starts firing (at oncoming criminals, that is, not his boss). This is one secret agent who can't just drive down the street and stop for a bite. Instead, he must avoid helicopters, rogue hitmen, and some equally lethal femme fatales just to get a sandwich.
Elsewhere, Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) proves that he's not the directorial jack of all trades he pretends to be. The aforementioned action sequences run the gamut from quite effective to visually incomprehensible. At least Bourne's Paul Greengrass made no bones about shaking his camera all the way to Hell and back. Here, Forster sets his lens to "vibrate" and then allows his editing to make things even more incomprehensible. For every scene that works, two test our visual equilibrium. This may be the first Bond film forged with the small screen in mind. Several of the compositions look home theater-ready, not designed for the cineplex.
And who ever thought we'd miss narrative in a 007 story? Craig is so good as the no nonsense spy with an almost superhuman ability to anticipate and derail danger that failing to give him some downtime destroys the thrills. Like too much of a tasty meal, we grow bloated while waiting for a break in the smash-bang buffet. And Mathieu Greene is an excellent villain -- suave, seductive, and scary. With open ended elements clearly saved for yet another continuation of this narrative, Quantum of Solace feels like the middle act of a much larger cinematic statement. Let's hope the next section is tighter and less hyper than this storyline space holder.
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Friday 14th November 2008
Box Office USA: $168.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $586.1M
Distributed by: Sony/MGM
Production compaines: B22, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures, Eon Productions
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 158 Rotten: 87
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Marc Forster
Producer: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Starring: Daniel Craig as James Bond, Olga Kurylenko as Camille, Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene, Judi Dench as M, Giancarlo Giannini as René Mathis, Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, David Harbour as Gregg Beam, Jesper Christensen as Mr. White, Anatole Taubman as Elvis, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, Tim Pigott-Smith as Foreign Secretary, Joaquín Cosio as General Medrano, Glenn Foster as Henry Mitchell, Paul Ritter as Guy Haines, Stana Katic as Corinne Veneau, Lucrezia Lante della Rovere as Gemma, Neil Jackson as Monsieur Slate, Oona Chaplin as la réceptionniste de l'hôtel, Laurence Richardson as l'officier de police, Rachel McDowall as Anna, Gustavo Nanez as Un membre de Quantum, Mark Wakeling as Un agent du MI6, Sarah Hadland as La réceptionniste à l'Ocean Sky, David Decio as Un agent du MI6 (non crédité), Aaron King as Un agent du MI6 (non crédité), Alexandra Prusa as Un membre de Quantum, Brandon Jovanovich as Mario Cavaradossi, Alexandre Krawetz as Spoletta, Fernando Guillén Cuervo as Police Liutennant, Jesús Ochoa as Lieutenant Orso, Simon Kassianides as Yusef
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