WARNING: Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and do not wish to have any clue or hint revealed unto you, don’t read this post. Also, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time editing this one, so… yeah.
First, Quantum of Solace (hereafter QOS) is not the typical 007 flick. There’s no “Bond, James Bond.” No “Shaken, not stirred.” No Q. No Moneypenny. The film doesn’t open with the white dots and the gunbarrel motion. The women’s names aren’t double-entendres, and he doesn’t sleep with all of them. His final disposition of the major villains is not what you’d expect. It’s not as escapist as other films in the series. Some folks’ll be disappointed.
Second, QOS is a true sequel; it picks up right where the last one left off–and the filmmakers assume you’ve seen the last one, Casino Royale. They don’t rehash everything about White, Vesper, Le Chiffre, or “the organization”; they refer and allude and move on.
I enjoyed it. Despite having more action than Casino Royale did, QOS is actually one of the more subtle and thoughtful 007 flicks (if such a thing exists). You don’t see every kill on screen. You don’t hear every conversation. You don’t get every question answered. You only get a hint of what that bad guys are up to, and they barely even mention the name of the organization, “Quantum.” Perhaps best of all, they don’t bother to explain the title—they trust the viewer to figure it out.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. They obviously named the bad guys “Quantum” to match the title—which was totally unnecessary, and distracts the viewer from the real meaning of the title. The producers should have come up with a different name, such as… oh, I don’t know, SPECTRE? Since that’s clearly what Quantum is supposed to be? The Broccoli family needs to shell out some bucks so they can use SPECTRE again. Then the next movie can open with the villains having a meeting where the first order of business is re-branding. Number One can execute one of his underlings for purchasing thousands of new business cards with the wrong watermark.
The featured baddie was one Mr. Greene, smarmy and diabolical without being psychotic or cartoonish, but it was clear that even he was only one small part of Quantum. We only got a glimpse of the rest of the organization; Bond flushes them out at a viewing of Tosca (a scene that was probably the most artistic piece in any Bond movie), and then they disappear.
Speaking of the artistry, I liked most of the graphic effects by MK12. The moving font in the title sequence was cool. The title sequence itself was a nice return to good old-fashioned naked women squirming around as bullets fly all over the place and silhouettes fall from the sky. I liked the stylized title cards for each new location. I loved the different colored subtitles when the cabbie was speaking Spanish and Mathis was speaking Italian—yes, it’s a crack in the fourth wall, but I laughed when I saw it.
I don’t remember any of the silly lines we’ve come to expect in Bond movies thanks to the Moore and Brosnan films. In fact, Bond is robbed of a cheap joke at Agent Fields’ expense, because her ridiculous first name (Strawberry) isn’t revealed until the closing credits. I liked “Don’t bleed to death.” Bond’s take on Fields’ cover story and his line about finding the stationery reminded me of Fleming’s novels, where the humor was wry and dry.
The music was fine. I barely noticed the score, which means it didn’t hurt the movie. I think the highlight is a cool little piece at the end of the closing credits called “Crawl, End Crawl” by Four Tet. It’s a remix of parts of the score, and makes for good walkin’-outta-the-theatre music. But the title song? Well, I can appreciate that they tried to carry over some motifs from “You Know My Name,” but it sounds like Jack White and Alicia Keys are singing karaoke. They should’ve just left out the vocals and gone instrumental. Actually, I’ve heard the theme song from the QOSvideo game; it sounds better than White and Keys, and it fits the theme of the movie a bit better.
One major complaint: I hated a couple of the action sequences because I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on. Sure, I knew that there was a car chase, or that Bond was chasing Mitchell, or that there was a fight—but Forster needs to hold the camera further back so that I can actually make spatial sense of the action. Yeah, I know, the lightning-fast cuts are exciting and reflect the speed and confusion of the fight, but it made the movie less enjoyable to me.
And another thing: I can accept that the filmmakers tinkered with the gunbarrel sequence at the beginning of Casino Royale. However, going two consecutive movies without the gunbarrel sequence is tempting fate. Those two white dots and that gunbarrel are supposed to trumpet the arrival of roughly two hours of Bondian awesomeness. What MK12 did to it at the end of this movie seemed more fitting for a video game or an advertisement. For the next one, just put it back where it belongs at the beginning of the film and no one will get hurt.
There’s plenty more to be said, but it’s late, so I’ll close on an underwhelming note of approval: I half-expected to walk out of this movie feeling suicidal, like I did after seeing Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day. That didn’t happen, so Quantum of Solace was good enough that I didn’t question the purpose of my own existence. It wasn’t as good as Casino Royale, but this fan of the Fleming novels (i.e., I) thought it was still pretty durn good. It’ll hold me over for the next two years.