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Quantum of Solace
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I think someone at the studio thought "Quantum of Solace" would make a good title for a movie, meaning the smallest measurable bit of solace, and therefore would probably go with, say, a post-apocalyptic film of earth's last survivors, or the tattered remnants of an extra-terrestrial invasion; and the only question was which film would it fit. It surely does not fit the new James Bond film, which takes all the worst parts of the whole series - now twenty-two films - and jumbles them all into one bizarre mess.
The plot, such as it is, is a continuation of Bond's last film, "Casino Royale," which was excellent in many ways, combining brilliant acts of jaw-dropping physicality, from the first moments of a chase across a construction site to the CGI destruction of a Venice palazzio. And it gave Daniel Craig some room to act, including a love affair with Eva Green. But "Quantum of Solace" is a mish-mash of moments that have been so hyped up that we lose sight of the plot itself. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that some kind of consortium of industrialists wants to take over the water supply of Bolivia. One of them is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric, whom we know from the many good films he's appeared in, not including this one).
Once again Bond is out of control, and must listen to chastisings from his mother M, once again played by Judi Dench. And before the film is over, he and his new love, Camille (the non-actor Ukrainian bombshell Olga Kurylenko) will be, perhaps, united. Or perhaps not. It's not very clear.
In fact, nothing is very clear in "Quantum of Solace," and the writing, by a group of three at least, and direction (by Marc Forster) are to blame. Forster, who's directed more intimate films like "Neverland" and "Monster's Ball," cannot direct action, particularly the kind that's called for in a Bond film. You can see the difference when he directs the slower, more dramatic sequences here - quite good, at least as a relief from the mayhem - and the action sequences, in which we cannot tell who's doing what to whom. And the editing of those sequences is also terrible. For a lesson in directing action and editing it, I refer you to "The Bourne Ultimatum," directed by Paul Greengrass - an astounding piece of work.
So "Quantum of Solace" is not, perhaps, a catastrophe; instead, it's just a disappointment. And no Bond film should be a disappointment, unless it's the final one, the one in which he gets killed.
11/14/08 <! new pasted review ends on line above>