Sacha Howells March 15, 2009
Quantum of Solace picks up immediately where Casino Royale left off, with Daniel Craig‘s Bond freshly betrayed by Vesper Lynd. His road to revenge or redemption reveals a new worldwide conspiracy called QUANTUM that has infiltrated Her Majesty’s Secret Service itself, and takes him outside the law, going rogue against his own government.
The trail leads Bond to QUANTUM’s plan to overthrow the Bolivian government and install a dictator in exchange for ownership of a vast desert — for the oil, everyone assumes. Mathieu Amalric is the sleazy eco-entrepreneur Dominic Greene, Olga Kurylenko plays Camille, a former secret agent with her own reasons to take down the new dictator, and Gemma Arterton is barely there as Fields, a British agent. The film careens along between set pieces, delivering lots of action but without the coherence and depth that made Casino Royale more than just another action flick.
It’s beautifully filmed, and a lot of the lessons learned from Casino Royale are still held to: Bruising stunts, no silly gadgets, and no camp, there’s not a randy name to be found (at least out loud). But while Casino Royale‘s story built from one scene to the next, Quantum of Solace‘s plot often ends up feeling like just business — a reason to get the characters to the next stunt or exotic locale.
And it does slip into some of the ways of the bad old Bonds, with fuzzy plot points and ridiculous Austin Powers-style shagging (Fields sleeps with Bond after less than two minutes alone with him, and conveniently dies after delivering about five lines; she’s a prop, not a character). But the action is blistering, even if too often the lack of perspective leaves you with a vague sense of panic and frenzy rather than really seeing the carefully choreographed stunts.
The standard DVD features the video for Jack White and Alicia Keys’s theme song and a couple of trailers, while the Special Edition adds a second disc loaded up with making-of documentaries. The best, a 30-minute “Bond on Location” featurette, looks at how Panama stood in for Bolivia and Haiti, and the impressive, elaborate system of cranes that had to be built in the ancient Italian city of Siena for the amazing chase across the rooftops. (Painful behind-the scenes fact: they wrecked fourteen Aston Martins in the opening car chase.)
Then there are a series of three-minute bits, like on one director Marc Foster and one about the music, and forty-five minutes of crew diaries. The problem is, they’re old news — you’ve been able to watch them all right here since before the movie came out. No deleted scenes (not even the alternate ending that buzzed around the Internet last year), no commentary, just some behind-the-scenes stuff that’s been online for months?
Quantum of Solace is definitely worth a watch, and even a buy if you’re a Bond fan at all. But don’t bother with the second disc of extras, unless you’ve been dying to see that interview with the Line Producer on the big screen.
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