Bondathon #22: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Posted: April 13, 2016 in Movie Review
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Quantum of Solace (2008)

Director: Marc Forster

Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench

Among the many differences between the James Bond film series and its original source material penned by Ian Fleming, there is the fact that the plots of the novels tended to all be interconnected. The only real continuity that ever existed between Bond films were passing references to previous gadgets and deceased characters. But the stories which each film told were otherwise self-contained… that is until “Quantum of Solace.” Fans of the books who had hoped that “Casino Royale” might be followed by the second filmed version of “Live and Let Die” (since that was the second Bond novel) were in for a disappointment. So was anyone looking for Bond to move on to an entirely new mission.

“Quantum of Solace” picks up in Siena, Italy, mere minutes after the end of “Casino Royale.” James Bond (Daniel Craig) leads a bunch of would-be attackers in a high-speed car chase, with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) locked away inside the boot. Back at MI6, Mr. White is interrogated about the organization he works for, known as Quantum. Mr. White laughs, noting that Quantum has influence everywhere. With that, M (Judi Dench)’s bodyguard attacks her and Mr. White escapes. Bond pursues and kills the bodyguard. A search of the dead man’s flat reveals a lead which Bond follows to Haiti. A hitman has been hired by businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric)… a truly pathetic individual… to kill Greene’s girlfriend, Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko). Greene is also plotting to help install an exiled Bolivian general named Medrano as that country’s next president, one whom just so happens to have also been responsible for the death of Camille’s entire family. Bond prevents Camille’s murder, but inadvertently also prevents her from exacting revenge for her loved ones… a subject to which Bond can relate.

Bond tracks Greene to an opera in Austria, where members of Quantum are meeting in secret. Bond sneaks in and snaps a few key photos before he’s discovered and a gun battle begins. At the end of it, Bond drops one Quantum member off the side of a building, a man who turns out to be a bodyguard to an adviser of the British Prime Minister. Although the fall doesn’t kill him (despite landing on the hood of a car), Greene has him shot and killed to make it look like Bond did it. M takes the bait, and revokes Bond’s credit cards and passports when he won’t report in. Instead, Bond heads back to Italy to contact Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), whom he has forgiven for his perceived betrayal at the Casino Royale, and persuade Mathis to accompany him to Bolivia.

Upon their arrival, Bond is confronted by Ms. Fields (Gemma Arterton), who is under orders to bring Bond back to the UK. Naturally, it won’t work out that way, as Bond persuades her to jump into bed with him instead. Fields’ first name is never uttered on-screen, but her full name is listed in the end credits as Strawberry Fields. The second Beatles-inspired name in the series’ history (after the title for the movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”), Strawberry Fields shows how far we’ve come since Sean Connery’s Bond deliberately badmouthed the Fab Four in “Goldfinger.” Speaking of “Goldfinger,” Strawberry Fields will sadly meet a fate similar to that of Jill Masterson, the difference being that Fields is covered head to toe in crude oil, not gold paint. Mathis also is killed by the Bolivian police working for Medrano. Bond goes with Camille and discovers that Quantum is damming the Bolivian water supply. CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) tells Bond about the meeting place between Greene and Medrano. Bond kills the Bolivian Chief of Police in revenge for Mathis’s death, and gives chase to Greene while Camille confronts and kills Medrano. Bond catches up to Greene and leaves him stranded in the desert, only to learn later that Greene’s body turned up with two fatal bullet wounds.

An epilogue finds Bond in Russia where he has tracked down Vesper Lynd’s former boyfriend, the one for whom she was blackmailed by Quantum. It turns out that the creep is a Quantum member himself, and that his specialty is the seduction of women with connections in high places. He’s in the middle of seducing his latest mark when Bond interferes. Turning the bastard in to MI6 custody rather than kill him, Bond finally finds it in his heart to forgive Vesper.

In the decades-long run that the James Bond franchise has enjoyed, there has been only one film which truly called for a direct follow-up… and “Casino Royale” wasn’t it. Perhaps in some way Bond needed to forgive Vesper, but we didn’t, and we didn’t need a whole movie devoted to that subject. Daniel Craig is still in top form as Bond, but he’s surrounded by a less interesting story and faces off against a decidedly weak sauce villain. You could probably skip this one entirely, jumping from “Casino Royale” straight into the 23rd Bond film, and not even miss a thing. Still, although James Bond has participated in his share of bad movies, “Quantum of Solace” isn’t one of them. It’s more that type of ‘okay’ movie that is completely disposable despite still being fun to watch.

  1. Sylvia Williams says:

    Very well analyzed! I loved the turn of phrase “weak sauce villain”! By the way, What a friggin’ HUGE gun bond is holding on the poster/promo photo/cover, eh?!

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