Quantum of Solace [2008]

Quantum of Solace (QoS) is an acceptable action film, but not an acceptable Bond film.  Now if you know or care nothing for the Bond franchise, if you could just as easily watch Vin Diesel's XXX [2002] over The Spy Who Loved Me [1977] just stop reading.  Otherwise let me explain that a Bond film is a sub-genre of action film.

Olga Kurylenko played the cute but boringly named Bond girl "Camille".

Quantum of Solace (QoS) is an acceptable action film, but not an acceptable Bond film.  Now if you know little or care nothing for the Bond franchise; if you could just as easily watch Vin Diesel’s XXX [2002] over The Spy Who Loved Me [1977], just stop reading.  Otherwise let me explain to you how Bond movies exemplify a sub-genre of action film.

Bond films feature larger-then-life villains who almost always have some sort of clear and diabolical transnational plot to bilk/enslave/destroy humanity.  Bond films feature various kinds of spy gadgetry usually including but not limited to watches and vehicles.  These are reluctantly distributed to Bond and he proceeds to get them shot up.  Bond movies also have clear bad guys/assassins/henchmen with unusual abilities that make them an exciting challenge.

Craig's Bond is all about Parkour, and QoS is no exception.  However, some of his continued jumps we undoubtedly ankle breakers.

Craig is believable doing Parkour, so QoS' Bond takes on this heretofore unknown skill. However, some of his more impossible jumps were undoubtedly ankle breakers.

It takes more than a character named “James Bond” to make a Bond movie.  It takes more than a couple measures of the Bond theme, a Walther PPK, and a boss named “M”.  By many measures QoS could just as easy been called “Fred’s Secret Service Adventure”.

"Hello.  I am the girl Bond makes out with in the middle of the film and soon after is killed."

"Hello. I'm the girl Bond makes out with in the middle of the film and is soon after killed."

The producers have rebooted the franchise, but in doing so have lowered it to the level of any other spy action film.  They have stripped it of its unique character.  I know the winks of the Connery era and the over-the-top characters from the Moore area are in the past.  However are even the grand but understandable machinations of the Brosnon era done for?

The one-liners used to be pithier, the cars cooler, the thugs thuggier, and even the girls.., ah, girlier.  QoS might as well be another shaky-cam Bourne sequel.  Just replace the hard to follow action with a hard to follow plot.  It was not really about Bond stopping anything, but rather one man’s journey through grief and revenge.

The cynical obtuse plot had something to do with the stereotyped CIA selling out, MI-6 selling out, and corrupt South American officials selling out.  Bond pursued for his own reasons and not to save the world or much of anything.

I hope you like this expression, because it is neither "shaken nor stirred" the entire movie.

I hope you like this expression, because it is neither "shaken nor stirred" the entire movie.

Aside from a camera phone, QoS‘s Bond is equipped no better then the character was in 1962’s Dr. No.  That is 45 years true believers!  The average Brazilian Security Service agent today is equipped better.  In trying to make Bond “real” and “gritty” they have in a way made it more fake.

The action scenes were inconsistent.  The hand-to-hand combat and foot chases were more followable than the vehicular chases which seemed to leave out connecting shots.  The result left you asking questions like, “What was the other end of that anchor connected to?”

Judi Dench’s M is the only vestige of Bondiness left.  She did her usual “iron lady with a soft heart for Bond” role well enough.  She was given a few good lines and an extra scene or two beyond tradition.

Apparently some wiz-kid thought it was a good idea to construct a hotel in the middle of the remote desert.  Continuing his mind-boggling concept he apparently built the entire structure out of highly explosive fuel cells.

Apparently some wiz-kid thought it was a good idea to construct a hotel in the middle of the remote desert. Continuing his mind-boggling concept he apparently built the entire structure out of highly explosive fuel cells...

Years ago and for a long time Bond fought against the evil organization “Spectre” usually headed by mastermind villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.  This movie may be attempting to launch a new organization for Bond to fight, Quantum.  If that is the case, that is one good thing to come out of this film.  I wish them luck.  I suggest getting some sort of mysterious schemer to head it up.  Someone we can focus on and point Bond at.

If you will see any ambiguously titled film as long as Bond is in it you may find this film entertaining.  If you have stronger feelings about the Bond franchise (or want a more comprehensible plot) you will find this film lacking.

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39 thoughts on “Quantum of Solace [2008]

  1. Hey, thanks for stopping by my own QoS post and pointing me to yours. I love an alternate opinion! And while you are right on target with your assessment that this is not a stereotypical “Bond” film, I believe (as you noted) that the franchise is being rebooted to begin anew… probably with QUANTUM as the new-age Spectre. Thus, there must be a beginning, and I think Quantum of Solace is just that. A bridge between the origins (Casino Royale) and the next chapter (QUANTUM organization). Not being a fan of any previous Bond (Connery’s charm not withstanding), I appreciate that we, new viewers, are being offered a brand new character with new motivations and new tactics. And while the gadgets and cars are cool toys, I like that Bond is now down and dirty. It’s a new Bond for a new era, and he’s got brand new fans to go with it.

  2. Thanks for the kind words on my own “Quantum of Solace” review. You seem to have the same opinion on the film as Roger Ebert. Most of us familiar with the Bond movies seem to miss the silliness.

    I’ve heard rumors that the character played by Jeffrey Wright in the last two Bond flicks might get his own film. It’ll never happen, but then we could have “Fred’s Secret Service Adventure” for real.

    • Thanks for stopping by and cracking me up. Hearing someone quote back to me “Fred’s Secret Service Adventure” is just making me laugh and laugh for some reason.

      Maybe it is funnier when someone else types it! 😉

      “Jeffrey Wright IS Felix Leiter IN ‘Atom of Comfort’!”

  3. Took your suggestion and checked you out, good job. Did you notice that the title song (a perfectly good song)had absolutely nothing to do with the movie. I do admit it would be hard to put Quantum of Solace into the lyrics but when the song title (Another way to Die) sounds more like a bond movie than the film’s title you know this film is in trouble.

    • Thanks for stopping by. You are funny. Not only did the title of that song sound more like what a Bond movie should be titled, it sounded too close to what another Bond movie WAS titled.

      It is true, they usually try to slip the title in a line of dialogue. It often sounds forced (like in “A View to a Kill” or “Octopussy”) but at least they try.

      How would that have gone down in this film?
      M: “Bond, you won’t find your quantum of solace in revenge.”
      Bond: “Did you say that because the shadow group I stumbled on calls itself Quantum?”
      M: “Hmmm. Now that you mention it, well, in that context it does not really make sense does it. Never mind. Carry on Bond.”

  4. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my own QoS review.

    You make a good case in your own review that QoS isn’t really a Bond flick. I agree with your observation but not your distaste for the new direction. In my opinion, especially with the last few movies, the Bond movies have almost become more like parodies or spoofs of Bond movies.

    Yes, you could easily argue the QoS takes itself too seriously. The title itself is a good indicator of that. But I’m a fan of how they’ve decided to evolve the Bond genre. There aren’t many things that can stick to the same formula for decades and still retain relevance. (The fact that they have had a run that can be measured in decades is a huge accomplishment.)

    I just happen to think a redirection was long overdue and happen to be a big fan. Look forward to seeing more of your thoughts on other movies…

  5. I dig your review and your opinion on the film. I, for one am all about progress. This movie, while not nearly as exciting as Casino Royale was still a great follow up. It was perhaps too emotional, and that may have been a result of their choice of director. I expect the next film in the series will also be an adventure.
    Anyway, thanks for stopping by Crabapple and commenting. I hope you enjoy the site.
    Sam

  6. Unfortunately I don’t like Quantum of Solace. The film was fast paced and it didn’t reveal any background story of Quantum. And I like the typical Bond style. Okay, so a Bond that can’t be touch is impossible, but don’t make a Bond that is a punch first think later guy, he’s better than that.

  7. Only thing I liked in two last Bond films was the interesting deaths of girls- the girl from CR who looked cool, all in salt(can’t remember the name). The other one from QoS was covered in oil probably was a tribute to the ‘goldfinger’. but unsurprisingly not impressive

    ps. i love the review. I enjoyed reading it much more than watching the movie itself 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, the Daniel Craig Bond movies are quite different from the past. Some might say too different.

      Truly, QoS was not much for laughs. But they sure depicted the future of construction material – explosive bricks!

  8. I clicked on this and realised I share your doubts about the new Bond movies. I think “Casino Royale” suffered from the same loss of the essential Bond magic.

    • Hey, thanks for checkin’ it. We want to like them. We really like the Bond franchise. Can the world even handle a manly Bond like Connery any longer? A suave Bond like Moore? A cool Bond like Brosnon?

      They have succeeded in expanding the franchise to younger audiences. However these new Bond entries are slipping into the “just another action movie” category. They are not filling the shoes of the next memorable chapter in the life of the world’s most recognizable secret agent.

  9. My frustrations with the last few Bond films are many, but every time I read a review or hear a commentary track, there is no end to the discussion about “rebooting the franchise” or “reinventing Bond for 1970, er, 1980, um, 1990, oh wait … 2000.” It’s been going on for decades, as if every new installment of the series is a bridge to another installment but is afraid to actually be a Bond film in and of itself.

    So of all the ways QofS isn’t really Bond, the most obvious elephant in the room is that while M and Q and Moneypenny, when they appear, continue to age, Bond himself is now at the start of his career — and he’s blond! Lazenby was dropped after one film and Dalton after two because they were too gritty and brutal. So in this last reboot of a remake of a retread of a retool, they give us another hulking brute. Nothing against Daniel Craig, but I think he was miscast because someone forgot who the character is, which isn’t necessarily the same in the movies as in the books.

    About the formula: yes, it’s sorta hardened over time, and the latest set of filmmakers don’t want to be restricted by required formal elements. Boo hoo! Set up audience expectations over a period of decades and they refuse to satisfy them? That’s a formula alright — for disaster. Now the franchise risks losing its built-in fan base by refusing to be all the things a Bond film ought to be.

    So my one positive observation is the suggestion of a secret, conspiratorial organization, presumably run by a criminal mastermind bent on world domination but with some compelling character issue. Of course it’s absurd, but it’s fun. Of the many spy thrillers that churn through the theaters, Bond films used to be unabashedly fun in all sorts of ways, and lighthearted rather than self-serious. That’s the next one I want to see, but I’m not hanging out much hope.

    • You made a number of points here that resonated within the crystal of the Fortress.

      For whatever reason, be it fear, marketing, or their personal preferences the group behind the Craig Bond films has not made classic Bond films. One has to ask how many elements in a film series can be changed before it is no longer really a member. Oh sure, the names are there. Someone named M and such, the British Secret Service, and a spy named Bond. But the real elements that make the Bond flavor have been changed. (and they are less fun)

      Some may think that is for the better. We in the Fortress think that if you change it too much you are merely cashing in on the franchise name in order to promote your own style of film. Poor Lazenby had a rough go for various reasons. He was hard on himself, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was atypical for a Bond film, and it was the first transition to a new Bond actor. It was sealed when Connery came back for one more film.

      There certainly is a certain amount of expected formula in classic Bond films. We do not think that is at all a deficit. People used to look forward to the witty repartee, a gadget or two, a big finale showdown, etc. Movies can vary greatly within the variety of accepted Bond elements. Those who appreciate classic Bond are left out in the cold, and the filmmakers care little anyway as they are aiming for the new movie base.

      As for the addition of a secret conspiratorial organization, we agree. Yes, bring it back. We enjoyed that aspect of the old Bonds. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was a lot of fun with Blofeld as its head. That was such a spy mainstay that shows like Get Smart and Man From U.N.C.L.E. that played off of the spy thing had their own versions with K.A.O.S. and T.H.R.U.S.H. respectively.

      (Yes, we knew those acronyms without having to look anything up. The Fortress is an eclectic storehouse of knowledge.)

      Thanks for weighing in Brutus.

  10. I *respectfully* but totally disagree with you guys. I think the old James Bond movies range from mildly entertaining to atrocious. They have little character development, poor writing, silly action, and fantasy gimmicks. The new films are daring to cut out the spy-fantasy elements and give us character development, emotionally resonant relationships, visceral action, and a James Bond with a heart. Most people I have talked to love the new Bond movies.

    • Perhaps it is a generational thing. We agree that pre-Craig Bond films varied in entertainment value. We are talking over 4 decades of films with highs and lows in the industry and the whims of entertainment culture. Some writing was better, some action more well done, etc. Let us not try to put today’s production values on yesterday’s films. They worked with what they had.

      You are right, the new Craig films are daring to cut out the spy fantasy. We think they are going so far as to really not be Bond films. If they believed that strongly in their work maybe they should have released it without the Bond name.

      As for heart, we think Bond developed one over time. Especially with the death of his wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. So sad. And it is reinforced again at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only (one of the favorite Bond films in the Fortress).

      We do not know the people you have talked to Isaac that have loved the new Craig Bonds. We do not doubt that they exist. Most of those are likely 13-23 year old movie goers with little loyalty to the brand. Movies have become a teen game more and more. Even if these people enjoyed the films, are they ready to invest into a new multi-film franchise? Or did they just enjoy an action film?

      We think the Craig Bonds are just that; competent action films, but not really Bond films.

      • I’ll keep my response short:
        I like a lot of old movies, (Ben Hur, High Noon, Rollerball, Dirty Harry, etc.) so I’m not being hard on the production value. I’m being hard on the writing and the characters.
        Casino Royale and Quantum were the first times a James Bond movie engaged me emotionally and intellectually, or on any level for that matter.

      • We understand where you are coming from (and appreciate your taste in old movies). The two Craig films seemed designed to engage viewers more emotionally and more deeply than classic Bond films.

        The older entries seemed more about the spectacle of the entertainment experience. The formula, the henchmen, the funny names for girls, etc. The Craig films and the older Bonds vary greatly in the very type of movie they are and tried to be.

        If the Craig movies were instead, “Joe Schmo’s Spy Adventure” and not James Bond films we would give them a lot more of a break.

      • “We do not know the people you have talked to Isaac that have loved the new Craig Bonds. We do not doubt that they exist. Most of those are likely 13-23 year old movie goers with little loyalty to the brand. Movies have become a teen game more and more. Even if these people enjoyed the films, are they ready to invest into a new multi-film franchise? Or did they just enjoy an action film?”

        Actually there are a lot of older fans of the classic Bond films who like Craig’s Bond films, or at least Casino Royale especially it was supposed quite faithful to the original book. I’ve read the character descriptions for his appearance as well as the official art based on the novels, and the actual appearance and personality of the character feels more like Craig than either Moore or Brosnon, at least that’s how it feels to me and I grew up loving the classic Bond films, Moore is my second favorite behind Connery.

        As for the Bourne comparisons, QOS is the only Craig Bond film that deserves that comparison while both Casino Royale and Skyfall feel more Bond than Bourne to me and at least they’re better movies too.

        Sorry for bumping this old post, I wanted to put in my opinion about it.

      • Please feel free to bump ‘classic’ posts. This was one of our early ones.

        Great comment. Thoughtful. Hmmm. Well, we are fans of the Bond classics. Perhaps our image of Bond was formed by the classic movie interpretation more than the original Flemming novels. That might explain the rough transition to Craig. Plus, there is the ‘make the hero younger’ syndrome (see Doctor Who franchise, new Star Trek movies,) which is not appropriate for all franchises.

        We believe the Craig films have become more Bond-like as they progressed (as opposed to shakey-cam Bourne). Bond always had a gadget or two. There is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps it was all the parkour/freerunning that threw us off. That did not strike us as very ‘Bond.’ We liked Moore especially in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

        Brosnan at least had the suave part down. But perhaps Craig has grown into it. The old Bond had a slight tragic edge to him, especially after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. We thought that added to his character. Perhaps this new Bond has a little of that.

        You have provoked thought. Thanks for the comment.

    • It’s cool that you disagree, Isaac, but why put respectfully between asterisks? As with scare quotes, that suggests you disagree but not really respectfully.

      Fortress Guy and I agree, though we state it differently, that the last two Bond flicks aren’t really Bond. The things you crave — character development and emotionally resonant relationships — aren’t really part of the Bond canon, though visceral action certainly is.

      For me, Bond is pure escapist fantasy, which makes it fun. Realism doesn’t add anything and in fact gets in the way of the fun and sometimes even silliness. Jason Bourne, the Transporter, just about any Segall or Van Damme outing, Hitman, etc. are all not very fun, though they deliver slam-bang action. Why make another yet one of those noisy beasts when Bond used to be a special genre of its own?

      • I think the heart of our disagreement is the question “what do the Bond movies need to be faithful to?” In your opinions, there is a legacy of James Bond spy-fantasy with cars, women, and gadgets that should be continued.
        In my opinion, if the producers want to go back to some of the books and give us a new take on the character, what’s wrong with that? I’m head over heels with the character portrayals in Casino Royale, (“Shaken or Stirred?” “Does it look like I give a d@mn?” – brilliant). Even with the genre-shift, its seriousness, its sequel (!), there’s something we haven’t seen before.

        For comparison, lets look at the Batman films. The movie versions of Batman were escapist fantasy in the 1990’s, especially with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. But then Christopher Nolan came along and gave us a fresh interpretation with Batman Begins and Dark Knight. I feel that Bond needed the same “re-envisioning” for a new generation that the Batman films did.

  11. I had another thought on this topic. I never liked how the Bond series portrayed women. Sure it was funny, typical spy-fantasy and cliche, but it made the films two dimensional. In Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd is the first woman who can match James Bond. Not in combat, of course, but in intellect and witty comebacks. She “strips him of his armor” and allows the audience to see whats underneath that cold-hearted killer. Then when Bond is betrayed, we see him hardened. We see Bond become the assassin, the cold heart, the womanizer that we’ve seen for decades. This “origin”, or “retelling” if you will, makes Bond a tragic character we can identify with instead of a two-dimensional spy thrill.

    … can you tell I studied theater in college? haha.

    • There have been strong female characters in whom “Bond has met his match” for decades. Pussy Galore in Goldfinger was probably the first, but Dr. Goodhead in Moonraker, Octopussy, and Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me also come to mind. It’s a familiar trope, and not all Bond girls are bimbos. Vesper Lynd is a very good female character but certainly not the first to equal Bond.

      • I saw Moonraker a few years ago and didn’t feel that way at all. I mean come on, her name is Dr. Goodhead.

  12. hahaha. Good point.
    I’ll retreat and quit trying to spoil your desire to honor the Bond legacy. (If anyone liked the new Indiana Jones movie, I’d be in similar shoes as you two are).
    Since I’m a part of the “new generation”, it makes sense that I identify more with the newer films.

    • Good back and forth, with a funny ending.

      Well, we too thought that Bond met his match if not his equal in various female characters over the years, including Diana Rigg’s character in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the aforementioned The Spy Who Loved Me character played by Barbara Bach.

      We think the good doctor Goodhead belongs in that company despite the moniker gag given her. Moonraker was fun for us, though people’s opinions always vary.

      As for Indiana Jones, that is another can of worms. Though no one here in the Fortress felt the last one worth a take.

      • One of our team at “Watch The Movie” is planning a “most disappointing films of the decade” and mentioning Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Poor Indy.

      • Oh, that will be a gem of a post.

        How much potential can one movie squander? How much goodwill can one franchise waste? How can such a good character end up in such an ill-fitting plot?

      • Now that we are shifting our critique to other squandered goodwill, I have to add that I read Harrison Ford passed on the latest installment of the Jack Ryan series (The Hunt for Red October through The Sum of All Fears) because he wisely believed that a nuclear detonation on U.S. in the first half of the movie would overwhelm the rest of the film. But ironically, that’s exactly what happens in Crystal Skull, only now unwisely played for laughs. For a short time, that led the phrase “nuked the fridge” to replace “jumped the shark.”

      • Interesting career choices for Harrison Ford. He cannot escape “bombs”.

        There are some in the Fortress that remember when Fonzie jumped the proverbial shark in 1977.

  13. Thanks for replying to my comment, the weird thing about Craig Bond’s if we’re taking the games into consideration (which might be the case), some of the events like Golden Eye happened but differently, that had mixed results with people really liking the Craig version of the Golden Eye game but the Legends game being panned. As for the Bourne inspired shakey-cam, I think it was less obvious in Casino Royale while it was more obvious in QOS.

    I’m not a huge fan of the Bourne films but I love Casino Royale, it’s my third favorite Bond film behind The Spy Who Loved Me (2nd fav) and From Russia With Love (1st fav) also the fact that Martin Campbell who directed Golden Eye did a pretty good job considering the tone change. Craig is pretty tied with Brosnan as my third favorite Bond. Conney’s my favorite because while he gave the film bond that extra suaveness for the Hollywood audience, he also embodied the character’s mean streak from the novels in the earlier films like Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

    Here’s how I feel about the Craig films so far:

    Casino Royale: A really good start, supposed to be a first mission for the character. A good way to get new fans into the character but it also gives fans of the novels a Bond that’s a bit closer to the original character in the books but I also think fans of the classic Bond films can appreciate it too. Again, third favorite Bond film. The main song is great too and fits the tone of the film.

    Quantum Of Solace: While I think the comparisons Royale when talking about the Bourne films, which are superficial in my opinion, QOS feels like an attempt to really copy the Bourne formula while still trying to make a classic Bond film somewhere, classic example of putting all your eggs in one basket. And it doesn’t pay off, the film felt rushed, storyline felt crowded, unmemorable villains and it wasn’t very satisfying, not as bad as Die Another Day (worst Bond film ever IMO) but still a disappointing follow up. Not a fan of the song for some reason.

    Skyfall: Now that’s more like it, we return to some of the classic formula as well as wink wink moments to celebrate the franchise’s anniversary but the film still stands on its own 2 feet quite well. While the film isn’t without its flaws (because it has flaws), it’s still a great film with a memorable villain, great moments, the nod to Bond’s Scottish upbringing and Judie Dench giving in my opinion, her best “M” performance. The young geeky Q, was a little surprising and needed a little getting used to at first but I thought the actor who played did a good job. Can’t wait for the new movie. I wasn’t that interested in the Skyfall song at first but after listening to it several times at work, I actually enjoy it.

    • Well said bbally.

      We agree, Connery brought out (occasionally) the hard edge of Bond. It was less so in the Moore era, then again, times were different. Although in For Your Eyes Only, he did push that assassin off the cliff.

      Some interesting points about the Craig films. We wonder what went on behind the scenes, relative to your points, for QoS. Our overall Craig era vote would be for less parkour and more tuxedo. We may come back with more comments on Skyfall.

      Edgy?

      • Another clasdic bump for good measure, I welcomed the parkour scene in CS with open arms after DAD’s director said CG (which was horrible in DAD) will replace all practical effects in the Bond franchise.

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