The reboot of the Bond franchise has been a successful one, both commercially and critically. Crossing $400 million worldwide, Quantum of Solace proved that the massive box office of Casino Royale was not a fluke. James Craig may already be the biggest draw of the franchise and has certainly owned the role of Britains most famous secret agent.
To compare what Ian Fleming had in mind when he created the character of James Bond to what the cinematic version of James Bond had been up until Casino Royale makes for a very marked comparison.
Bond, as Fleming wrote him, was a hard-nosed killer who did his job without mercy. He was a sort of secret agent sledgehammer, ruthless and violent.
Bond, as hes been portrayed on film, has always been a debonair ladies man with a flair for the dramatic. One has to think that Fleming mightve appreciated what Bond had become, but it was never his vision that Bond was a tuxedo wearing lady killer who saved the world.
Casino Royale changed all that, trying to mesh Bonds novel origins with his famous film persona and eventually settling for a Bond who is one part assassin, one part detective. That makes Quantum of Solace all the more interesting, as the film is a direct sequel (a first) and the first Bond film under two hours.
One hour after Bond (Daniel Craig) followed the one lead given to him after the death of his beloved Vesper, he has Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in the trunk of his car and is being pursued by unknown agents with bad intentions. Bonds mission from there is one of equal parts espionage and vengeance: find the men behind the organization that killed Vesper and is threatening to back a coup de tat in Bolivia. Its an interesting film that Marc Forster strips down to its basic elements, as its perhaps the least complex of any Bond flick ever.
The franchise has never been what one would call excessively intelligent, but Quantum and Casino Royale have much more in common with Matt Damons Bourne franchise than it does with the prior 20 Bond films. Bond is much less sophisticated and much more of a brute than ever before; he is the broad sword, not the scalpel, but the way its used is fascinating. All of the comedic traits of Bond, including killing informants and such before getting any information, are presented as serious character flaws that are almost prohibitive to the success of his mission. It makes for an interesting take on the character, as this isnt Bond the established agent. This is Bond the new agent, the one still wet behind the ears and still very much a ruthless killer, and it makes for a startling contrast with prior Bonds. He is inexperienced in being efficient and smooth, the type that walks into a room and knows every escape route in it within 20 minutes but feels that direct methods are more necessary in information gathering. Hes not a smooth operator, but is learning. Craig is comfortable in the role, and much more comfortable taking a beating as Bond as well. Hes beaten and bloodied, bruised and vulnerable; this James Bond isnt the superhero that he was in the past and the film is better for it.
The films problem is that its much more of an action film than it is a spy thriller, which is where the Bond franchise has made its bones. Marc Forster, who has done a lot of films that are plot heavy, seems to be out of his range as he directs with a visual flair but doesnt add much of a story to the proceedings. The film acts as a setup between action sequences as opposed to a film whose story demands them; its disappointing in that aspect because there is so much to be explored with Bond the character. Its a generic story about a man saving the world, as opposed to James Bond saving the world. If it had been called Quantum of Solace but has Clive Owen as an MI6 agent saving the world, the film would be pretty much exactly the same. Theres nothing to distinguish it from the rest of the genre, which is what usually makes a Bond film out of the ordinary from the genre.
It may be a generic spy thriller for the most part but Quantum of Solace does contain some terrific action sequences and does try to be outside the norm for the franchise. It succeeds for the most part but never quite hits the magic that Casino Royale did.
Presented in a Dolby Digital format with a widescreen presentation, Quantum of Solace has a terrific transfer. Everything is crisp and the film pushes a good sound system to its limit.
Both versions of the films Theatrical Trailer are included.
A music video for the films opening score, “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys, is included.
Bond on location is an EPK piece about the wonderful locations of the film. Its interesting to see what passed for some of the locations, as Panama passed for Bolivia and they brought in tribesman from the countryside to pass as native Bolivians. There was a lot of work, as the ground crew had a remarkably tough time navigating through everything to get to various shoots.
After this is a series of “blink and youll miss it” style of shorts masquerading as extras. None last longer than several minutes at most.
Start of shooting is a brief piece on the action, as Craig felt that Casino Royale was a “walk in the park” compared to Quantum of Solace.
On Location is about the locations themselves, as each of the locations gave something to the film that was unique.
Olga Kurylenko and the boat chase features Craigs co-star and her brief feelings towards the boat chase scene they were a part of.
Director Marc Forster is a piece about how they wanted to make a better film than Casino Royale.
The Music is a bit about the films score and theme song.
Crew Files are a series of web logs from the crew that were initially posted online on the films website.
This DVD is like Quantum of Solaces place in the Bond franchise. Its weak. Recommendation for only the most ardent fans, as the single disc gives you just as much as the two disc special edition.
20th Century Fox presents Quantum of Solace. Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathiew Amalric, Jeffrey Wright, Gemma Arterton, Judi Dench. Written by Michael G Wilson. Running time: 106 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD March 24, 2009. Available at Amazon.
Tags: Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, James Bond, Quantum of Solace