Wednesday, October 24, 2012

007 James Bond Marathon: Quantum of Solace

Based on Ian Fleming’s stories, Quantum of Solace is the story of James Bond seeking vengeance as he goes after the Quantum organization by targeting an environmentalist trying to control Bolivia’s water supply. Bond is then joined by a woman who is also seeking vengeance for her parents’ murder as the two team up. Directed by Marc Forster and screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis, and Joshua Zetumer, the film picks up where Casino Royale left of as Daniel Craig returns as the role of Bond for the second time. Also starring Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Almaric, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Rory Kinnear, and Judi Dench as M. Quantum of Solace is a decent but very messy film from Marc Forster.

After capturing Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to find out who he’s working for, James Bond and M interrogate him only for something to go wrong when M’s bodyguard Mitchell (Glenn Foster) tries to kill M as Bond goes on the chase to go after him as they both realize that Mitchell is a double agent. Mr. White has suddenly disappeared as Bond and M found some banknotes at Mitchell’s apartment that is connected to a contact in Haiti. After finding the contact, Bond meets a woman named Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) whom the contact was supposed to kill as he learns that she’s the lover of an environmentalist named Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric). Bond watches the meeting as he learns that Montes is really going after a Bolivian general named Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), for killing her family many years ago, while Greene is making a deal with Medrano about getting land in Bolivia.

Bond travels to Austria to follow Greene as he infiltrates a meeting as he captures the pictures of many who are believed to be part of a secret organization known as Quantum. Yet, Bond manages to kill the bodyguard of a man connected to the British prime minister on his way out as M revokes his passports and credit cards forcing Bond to seek help from his old ally Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) who joins him to Bolivia to find out what Greene is up to as they’re met by a MI6 officer named Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) who wants to take Bond back to London. Instead, Bond takes her to Greene’s party with Mathis to find out what Greene is up to as Montes is also there to find out what is going on. Bond and Montes decide to fly to the land that Greene wants to buy as they are nearly attacked by Bolivian planes where they learn what Greene is up to. With the help of Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), Bond and Montes decides to confront Greene and Medrano to learn about Quantum.

The film is essentially a continuation of its predecessor in Casino Royale where James Bond goes after the people who are running a secret organization that he believes is responsible for the death of someone close to him. Throughout this journey, he learns more about this organization yet his thirst of vengeance eventually starts to become a liability for the MI6 as they try to make sure he doesn’t stray from the mission. It’s a very compelling story that has Bond trying to uncover this organization and seek vengeance as he also helps a woman get her revenge as well. It’s just that the story isn’t given the presentation that could’ve made it more captivating.

The screenplay definitely maintains its sense of mystery and intrigue but it’s very unbalanced with lots of action sequences that loses the luster on its suspense. Still, the script does succeed in making Bond more flawed as he still has a bit of inexperience in him in the way he deals with situations and such as he starts to understand more and more about what it takes to be a 00 agent. Helping him in this mission is Camilla Montes who is this woman seeking revenge for her parents’ death as she starts to piece the puzzle of what Dominic Greene is up to. The Dominic Greene character isn’t a traditional villain as he is really more of an organizer that is working for this mysterious organization yet he’s surrounded by people who will help him do things to make sure they’re taken care of.

Marc Forster’s direction has some moments that are quite engaging in some of the film’s action sequences and dramatic moments but he often delves way too much into action film conventions in terms of their presentation. Fast, choppy editing and shaky camera work give way to moments that almost become nonsensical and very hyperactive that it becomes a bit hard at times to follow through. Another problem with Forster’s direction is that the film has too many action sequences and not enough moments for the film to really invest in its mystery and intrigue despite the way he creates some gorgeous images of the locations and setting. Overall, Forster creates a film that tries to play up to the conventions of action films where it lacks the splendor and intrigue of the James Bond films.

Cinematographer Robert Schaefer does some excellent work with the photography by capturing the beauty of some of the film‘s locations in South America and Europe along with some lovely interior lighting schemes for hotel scenes in Bolivia. Editors Matt Cheese and Rick Pearson do terrible work with the editing as it plays too much into the frenetic fast-cutting style of action films where not much makes a lot of sense while not taking enough time to slow things down for the film‘s dramatic moments. Production designer Dennis Gassner, with set decorator Anna Pinnock and supervising art director Chris Lowe, does superb work with the set pieces such as the suite in the Bolivian hotel as well as General Medrano‘s base for the film‘s climatic face-off.

Costume designer Louise Frogley does nice work with the costumes from the tuxedos and clothes that Bond wears to the dresses that Montes and Fields wear in the party scene. Sound designers James Boyle and Martin Cantwell, along with sound editor Eddy Joseph, do some terrific work with the sound to convey the sense of atmosphere that occurs including the film‘s interrogation scene that is inter-cut with an event in an Italian town. The film’s music by David Arnold is pretty good for its mixture of orchestral bombast as well as plaintive folk music for some scenes set in South America to convey the sense of loss that Bond and Montes are going through. The theme song Another Way to Die by Jack White and Alicia Keys is an okay song with lots of orchestral flairs and guitar bombast but it’s all over the place as it’s just a duet that doesn’t really work.

The casting by Debbie McWilliams is wonderful for the ensemble that is created as it features some noteworthy performances from Simon Kassianides as the Quantum member Yusef, Stana Katic as a Canadian agent Yusef tries to target, Neil Jackson as the contact Bond fights in Haiti, Fernando Guillen Cuervo as Mathis’ Bolivian contact, David Harbour as Felix Leiter’s CIA contact, Glenn Foster as the double-agent Craig Mitchell, and Jesper Christensen as the mysterious Quantum official Mr. White. Other small roles such as Rory Kinner as M’s aide Bill Tanner and Joaquin Cosio as the slimy General Medrano are pretty good though Anatole Taubman as Greene’s henchman Elvis is a weak henchman who sports a very stupid-looking haircut. Gemma Arterton is quite fine as the MI6 official Strawberry Fields who aids Bond at Greene’s party while Giancarlo Giannini is excellent as Mathis who helps Bond go to Bolivia while providing insight about Bond’s thirst for vengeance.

Jeffrey Wright is terrific as Bond’s CIA friend Felix Leiter who goes undercover to find out what Greene is up to as he later helps Bond in going after Greene. Judi Dench is superb as M as she tries to deal with Bond’s tactics as well as whether to trust him with this mission. Mathieu Almaric is all right as the villainous Dominic Greene in trying to organize things for Quantum though he’s not a great villain as Almaric doesn’t really get a lot to do as he’s just a lackey for Quantum. Olga Kurylenko is brilliant as Camilla Montes as this woman who is seeking her own vengeance as she displays a sense of charm to her role in the way she interacts with Bond. Finally, there’s Daniel Craig as James Bond where Craig maintains that same sense of grit and weariness to his role as he also makes Bond more flawed in his pursuits as someone who remains haunted by previous events as it’s another captivating performance from Craig despite the film’s flaws.

Quantum of Solace is a very uneven film from Marc Forster that tries to be more of an action film than a suspense-thriller despite the stellar performances of Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko. The film is definitely one of the weakest films of the James Bond franchise due to the fact that it plays too much into conventional action film territory as it doesn’t invest in much time on the mystery and suspense as well as the fact that it’s also one of Forster’s weaker works as a filmmaker. In the end, Quantum of Solace is an okay but very underwhelming film from Marc Forster.

James Bond Files: The EON Films: Dr. No - From Russia with Love - Goldfinger - Thunderball - You Only Live Twice - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Diamonds are Forever - Live and Let Die - The Man with the Golden Gun - The Spy Who Loved Me - Moonraker - For Your Eyes Only - Octopussy - A View to a Kill - The Living Daylights - Licence to Kill - GoldenEye - Tomorrow Never Dies - The World is Not Enough - Die Another Day - Casino Royale (2006 film) - Skyfall - SPECTRE - No Time to Die

Non-EON Films: Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode) - Casino Royale (1967 film) - Never Say Never Again

Bond Documentaries: Bond Girls are Forever - True Bond - Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

Marc Forster Films: (Everything Put Together) - (Monster’s Ball) - Finding Neverland - (Stay (2005 film)) - Stranger than Fiction - (The Kite Runner) - (Machine Gun Preacher) - (World War Z)

© thevoid99 2012


Alex Withrow said...

I agree, an uneven Bond film. At best. So this review means you've watched and reviewed them all, right? Congrats man!

thevoid99 said...

Pretty much. There's the Everything or Nothing documentary that I saw last Friday that I will post this weekend. And then... that's it until the release of Skyfall that will be followed by the Bond postmortem where I'll rank the films and more.

Alex Withrow said...

Nice, can't wait.