Quantum of Solace (2008)
October 22, 2015 4:29 AM - Subscribe

James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country's most valuable resource. All the while, he still tries to seek revenge over the death of his love.

This is the 22nd James Bond film adventure.

The Wikipedia entry.
ShrunkenCinema.com reviews Quantum of Solace.
The James Bonding podcast (Matt Mira, Matt Gourley and guest Emily Gordon) covers Quantum of Solace.

Adam and Joe Show Song Wars, alternate Quantum of Solace theme songs: Adam Buxton's, and Joe Cornish's (Buxton's won with 64% of the vote).

Some Top Critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

A.O. Scott, New York Times: "Quantum of Solace prompts the question: Is revenge the only possible motive for large-scale movie heroism these days?"

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: "Quantum of Solace is a model of mediocrity, even though Daniel Craig gives his all to a production that doesn't deserve him."

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: "The Quantum of Solace filmmakers have produced a super-serious, often visually incoherent travelogue of revenge and trumped-up angst."

Dana Stevens, Slate: "Forster, a director of upscale tearjerkers, has no feel for action sequences. The big chases, of which there are several, could all be replaced with a title card reading, 'Insert action here'."

Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com: "Quantum of Solace is best when director Marc Forster allows his star the latitude to explore emotions that, until Craig stepped into the shoes of the character, we didn't know Bond had."
posted by doctornecessiter (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, I'll throw down the ante for this thread.

This movie gets a raw deal. Yes, it's not as good as Casino Royale. What the hell was ever going to be as good as Casino Royale?

But it's not nearly the failure it gets painted as. Even when it's not entirely working, it's still up in the higher tier of Bond films, and when it does work it frequently recaptures the elements that made Casino Royale so great.

posted by Naberius at 6:41 AM on October 22, 2015 [8 favorites]

I think a lot of it was just backlash and elevated expectations - although it did have production problems which were widely discussed. I caught up with it on DVD and was pleasantly surprised, as the negativity had lowered my expectations and enjoyed it enormously. It doesn't have the contained power of Casino Royale, but that's the kind of trick you can only pull off once.

The non-romantic relationship between Bond and Camille is very strong, I think. I should watch it again in preparation for seeing Spectre in a couple of weeks (I'm actually expecting backlash fever online for that one, though the reviews so far have been pretty good, so hopefully my backlash expectations will be disappointed).
posted by Grangousier at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Agreed. Not nearly the failure, and it's so much better than a vast, vast, vast number of Bond films. The plot didn't make sense, hey, but what Bond plot does?

And God, I love Bond and Camille, both for themselves -- but also when you read their characters in a meta sense together. Camille is a baby Bond who gets her revenge and can maybe now grow in a healthier, less emotionally shut down way. Bond is playing out his grief over Vesper's death -- in the end, the only way Vesper sees out of her problems is to get revenge on the big bad, and then lock herself in a cage and drown slow. Bond can't save her. Bond does save Camille, but Camille also gets her revenge.

I have all these pet theories about reading the Craig Bond movies as a triptych about the different kinds of relationships that Bond has with women, but this isn't the place for it. Basically, I just want to say that I LOVE QUANTUM OF SOLACE SO MUCH. It's a flawed movie, but the ways in which it's flawed bother me about 0.000000000000001% as much as Sean Connery in yellowface.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:10 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

I will say one thing: I liked that the mid-century futuristic James Bond villain lair at the end, because it had been built by a con artist who was using green altruism as a dodge for criminal schemes, was absolute crap, and fell apart so quickly and so much that the lair itself became usable as a weapon.

Funny bit, that.
posted by maxsparber at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

The biggest mystery of the film: what's up with Unflattering Mushroom Haircut Henchman, and why does the camera keep lingering on him? He doesn't do or say anything, but he's onscreen for something like a quarter of the running time.
posted by Iridic at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Why oh why didn't this one work?

Was it the fact that it started exactly where Casino Royale ended, not giving Bond the character a break to plan his revenge? Was it the egregious product placement (I'm looking at you, Ford)? Was it that crazy minimalist rich people's opera that tried to set up Quantum as a replacement for SPECTRE? Was it that Marc Forster can't direct action sequences for shit? Was it just the writer's strike?

I came into QoS not knowing anything about it and left not knowing anything about it. :(
posted by infinitewindow at 9:45 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Daniel Craig Says Writer's Strike "Fucked" 'Quantum of Solace'

My initial disappointment with Quantum of Solace was that it wasn't Live and Let Die. The novel, not the movie. It would've been cool if Casino Royale rebooted the franchise with the movies based on the books, in order.

I thought starting off exactly where Casino Royale ended was really cool, but the movie made less and less sense as it went on, and all I remember is a hotel made of exploding fuel cells.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:20 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Was it that crazy minimalist rich people's opera that tried to set up Quantum as a replacement for SPECTRE?

Okay, that is a concern I can sort of share. Quantum does indeed read as Spectre with the serial numbers and the Blofelds filed off for legal reasons. But now they've got the rights all back in one place and can use Spectre - obviously. So what are they going to do about Quantum? Bond bloodies their organizational nose in this film, but they certainly haven't been dismantled. So what's their relationship to Spectre?

Perhaps the new movie will figure this out. (It's now had a press screening in the UK, and the reviews are apparently very, very positive.)
posted by Naberius at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2015

Was it that Marc Forster can't direct action sequences for shit?

I don't know if it was the editing or what, but I found the action sequences really hard to follow, even just on a "who's hitting who?" level. That added a certain viscerality and a kind of excitement, but after that dissipated, it was mostly confusing. It got better by the end, just because most of the stuff in the hotel was fights between people it was easier to visually distinguish.
posted by Copronymus at 11:07 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you haven't already, please consider scrolling back up to listen to Adam & Joe's songs. They are much better than the actual song (so much so that our household pretty much only refers to this movie as "Something of Boris").
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:08 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I want a quantum of solace, and no more than a quantum
I know they do big bags of solace, but I don't want 'em

Cornish's song really is better, but that line from Buxton's slays me.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:13 AM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Perhaps the new movie will figure this out.

Mr. White appears in the trailer as a battered-looking recluse, which suggests that Quantum is on the run, if not defunct. Maybe SPECTRE brought them down in a turf war.
posted by Iridic at 11:35 AM on October 22, 2015

I've talked about it before, but Bond choosing a DC3 in this movie is too perfect. Shame the actual chase scene was a jump cut mess.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2015

I've only seen this movie once, and reading this has reminded me that I saw it before I saw Casino Royale (I think QoS was about the only non-objectionable choice of film I had on a flight somewhere).

It didn't do much for me, but I'm now thinking that might have to do with lacking the context of Casino. I will see if I can track it down.
posted by nubs at 12:36 PM on October 22, 2015

I remember disliking this one right off the bat with that awful car chase at the beginning. What a choppy mess of chaos cinema that was.
posted by octothorpe at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is the worst Daniel Craig Bond movie. However, even as the worst Daniel Craig movie it still outranks a bunch of other Bond movies. I blame the writer's strike for the most part. Even with the crap non-writing the thing still manages to be a better vehicle than some of the Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan movies. It still managed to move parts of the story forward.

I always kind of thought Quantum was the junior varsity version of SPECTRE. Like, here are some people that could be valuable once we get them trained up for the big league...but hey, if they die out in the desert from drinking oil - no big.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:46 PM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why did he even pick up the can of oil.

Unless we're to believe that Quantum people forced him to drink the oil.

If not, then come on...Who was driving this thing?
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:42 PM on October 22, 2015

As I said in the last thread, I found this movie underwhelming - particularly after Casino - but at least it didn't bore me like the next one. It moved along okay and I enjoyed the people.
posted by phearlez at 8:12 PM on October 22, 2015

Yeah, the cinematography and editing basically ruined every single action sequence in the movie for me. I had no idea what was going on in most of them.

Though I think they really nailed the "dry" theme. I wanted a glass of water and a cool shower throughout the movie.
posted by clorox at 10:27 PM on October 22, 2015

Marc Forster was a terrible, baffling choice of director and I found the movie a slack mess. Jeffrey Wright was the brightest spot for me.
posted by smoke at 1:39 AM on October 23, 2015

It didn't do much for me, but I'm now thinking that might have to do with lacking the context of Casino.

Quantum of Solace definitely suffers a lot if you don't watch it directly after Casino Royale -- to the point where in my opinion, the coda of Casino Royale should really have been the opening of QoS. I think the first movie ending on the boat (leaving us wondering if this was really it for Bond, or a major turning point for him) and then second opening with Vesper's betrayal revealed (and her death) would have set up QoS to make a hell of a lot more sense as a contained movie.

Outside of that, yeah, Quantum as off-brand SPECTRE is very apt. I think this is definitely still better than a lot of Bond movies (oh Roger Moore, what the hell were you and the directors thinking half the time?). Still, it is a definite drop in quality from Casino Royale (and also pretty forgettable at parts), and Skyfall was a much more solid follow-up.
posted by tocts at 7:58 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Jeffrey Wright was the brightest spot for me.

Which is funny, because I don't think anyone has ever looked less like they wanted to be where they were than he did throughout this movie. Like, if you had to explain to aliens with no conception of human language what the word "sullen" means -- boom. He also looked like he was dying of heatstroke despite only being like the 4th sweatiest person in the movie. And after all of that, I still enjoyed the hell out of whatever he was doing.

Actually, speaking of sweatiness, I will say that something the movie did really well was communicate the hot oppressiveness of that desert. Maybe it was just that everything was tinted super orange, but whatever it was, every time James got back into town from the desert I just wanted him to take a shower immediately.
posted by Copronymus at 9:26 AM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think part of the problem with this one (probably largely in practice due to the writer's strike) is that the "finding Quantum" plot doesn't really mesh well or lead clearly to the "control the water supply" plot. Casino Royale is concerned with funding worldwide terrorist organizations, QoS seems to take a sharp turn about halfway through, narrowing the focus to one country's infrastructure problems. Bond's got all the members of Quantum in one place at the opera, and it seems suddenly he decides to concentrate all of his attention on one dude, and not even the head of Quantum, just one of the footsoldiers. Whose plan (as far as I can tell) is more about lining his own pockets rather than doing something for the organization. So, why that guy? Which is never really explained.

And I think they tried to make Kurylenko's character's desire for revenge parallel and mirror Bond's, but they didn't quite succeed.

Although, I have to wonder if some of the negative reaction to the flick is a kind of "first-world" privilege at work - I bet a lot of the audience (especially American and European) doesn't really have to worry about water availability on a daily basis, so that part of the plot doesn't really resonate, and then to further have it take place in a South American country that a lot of people probably don't think about much . . . . I don't doubt that a lot of people went into the film looking forward to a globe-spanning fun Bond flick and suddenly felt like they were getting preached at about water privatization in a country they don't care about. Not that Forster et al. don't have a point, and I think we're increasingly seeing that water availability is both a worldwide issue and one that is increasingly affecting first-world countries, but I suspect many people were taken aback by having it show up in 2008 in a James Bond movie. Which affected their impression of the movie.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:09 AM on October 25, 2015

One of the ITV channels is block repeating recent Bond movies, and QoS is on right now. I watched it last week, too, but there's not much on tonight until midnight. Even then, it's just Jools Holland.

I just wanted to say, that I can easily watch this film over and over again, and don't really enjoy it any less. I probably won't watch all of it tonight, but while I do watch it it will entertain me just fine. In a way that an early 80s Roger Moore movie doesn't.

I don't find the chases and fights confusing or chaotic at all. I still enjoy the relationship between Bond and Camille (not so much love interest as master and apprentice), and the Bolivia plot isn't difficult to understand (it is, after all, basically Chinatown) and resonates strongly with the kind of bullshit the corporations try to pull off in, say, Venezuela.

I don't think there's anything as consistently watchable as the Craig movies in the Bond canon outside of the first three Connerys and OHMSS.
posted by Grangousier at 2:39 PM on December 31, 2015

Just watched this for a second time. The biggest problem for me was the film never breathes. It literally never stops. It's just non-stop blam blam action blam. A little quiet, a little subtlety goes a long way
posted by Nelson at 10:26 PM on March 27, 2021

it is, after all, basically Chinatown

I just rewatched this the other day and was reading this thread and this aside requires me to note how much the actor playing Dominic Greene looks like a young Roman Polanski.
posted by wabbittwax at 2:06 PM on October 27, 2021

Just watched it as part of a marathon of all the Craig films. This is so much better than I remember it being. I loved the pickup directly from the first movie, the performances are really pretty good. It makes enough sense that you understand why Bond and Camille care, though not enough to really make the villains sing.
posted by Carillon at 1:33 PM on September 16, 2023

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