In the wake of Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace was always onto a bit of a loser. Lacking a central event to focus on as its predecessor had, Solace instead chose to pick up the action immediately after Casino Royale with one of the most muddled and confusing car chases ever committed to celluloid. Director Marc Forster has admitted he wanted this to be disorientating, but the end result is borderline unfair. You simply don’t have a chance of following what’s going on, and when you think of the pedigree of Bond opening sequences, it doesn’t kick off well.
Things soon improve though, and Quantum Of Solace makes some wise decisions. Firstly, there’s the spending of a bit more time with the British Secret Service, and specifically Judi Dench. She’s given more to do here than we can remember in any Bond movie, and it’s to the film’s benefit. Furthermore, Daniel Craig already fits the tuxedo like a glove, and he powers the film through many of its slower moments. He’s a better actor than Pierce Brosnan was, and Quantum Of Solace is happy to rely on that.
It also helps that the film, just when you think it’s plodding, has the ability to pull something truly impressive out of its hat to jolt it back into life. There are some spectacular sequences in the film, and it’s great to simply sit back and enjoy them.
All told, though, the movie is a bit of a mess. Working seemingly in the shadow of the Jason Bourne template, Bond’s two hour revenge mission feels more of a game of moving from dot to dot, and it’s not always particularly entertaining to watch. Certainly there are moments that drag, and the villain – in the shape of Mathieu Amalric’s Dominic Greene – is as uninteresting as we’ve seen since Jonathan Pryce’s Tomorrow Never Dies nemesis.
Plus, as Martin pointed out in his cinematic review of the film, the new hard-edged Bond has come at the expense of fun. Casino Royale and the Bourne movies always gave us enough to get our teeth into, and enough to enjoy. Quantum Of Solace is moody, dry and too often simply dour. Granted, it’s a revengeful Bond we’re following, but that’s no reason to forget why we’re all here in the first place.
Quantum Of Solace has just enough in it to squeak a third star, but it’s perhaps right that this story arc for 007 is drawing to a close, allowing them to try something a bit different for Daniel Craig next time around.
The DiscOne word to describe the picture quality at times here: stunning. The early shots sweeping over the ocean are reminiscent of similar scene-setters in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, and they looked great in 1080p too. Here, Quantum Of Solace looks as grade A as you’d expect such an expensive and major production to be. It’s backed with a DTS 5.1 HD sound mix that’s by turns aggressive and subtle, with a vibrant soundstage that reflects the film well (although the film’s use of audio itself is quite mixed, to be fair). It’s a very well presented movie.
Don’t get too excited where the extras are concerned, though. After the highs of the film’s presentation, things come crashing down with the extra features package. It’s frustrating, because it’s blatantly clear that the real stuff is being prepared for the special edition, which will no doubt arrive in eighteen months’ time around the release of the next 007 movie. Director Marc Forster has already admitted that he’s recorded a commentary, that’s not on this disc, and neither is the deleted scene where Daniel Craig utters the “Bond, James Bond” line to Mr White.
You do still get some extras, but it’s just they’re not very good. The disc itself kicks off with some unwelcome trailers, but the main meat of things is the Bond On Location feature. This runs to 24 minutes 48 seconds, and follows the production of Quantum Of Solace across the globe. It’s decent enough for what it is, and you get plenty of talking heads involved (Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, Gemma Arterton, Daniel Craig and Marc Forster are all present and correct). You see the start of the shoot at the Barbican, and then the most interesting material comes when the people behind the scenes talk about what happens when a location is found. They touch on how they go about controlling it, casting the local extras, and in some cases, the physical challenge of actually getting to the locations themselves.
The journey goes from London to Chile to Austria to Panama City through to the desert (which is supposed to reflect the loneliness of Bond), and we discover that Quantum Of Solace spent more time on location than any other Bond movie. We even see some footage being shot six months in advance of the main production.
What becomes clear from this feature, which is worth spinning once, is that while the rest of the world is embroiled in a credit crisis, it’s not coming anywhere close to affecting the world of Bond. No expense was clearly spared here, and to be fair, you do see the results of that on screen.
From here, the material gets, to be kind, quite sparse, with some footage from the aforementioned Bond On Location piece reappearing too.
Start Of Shooting runs to 2 minutes 56 seconds, and it’s got a bit of Forster, a bit of Craig and a bit of Judi Dench. You see the first shot of the film, and a bit of behind the scenes preparation with jet boats and driving. Plus you see Daniel Craig laughing here, which given how necessarily surly he is for the main feature, is still surprising to see in a Bond context!
On Location is 3 minutes 14 seconds long and here Marc Forster explains how he treats locations as characters. The most interesting bit about this is the titbit that, when shooting in the mountains, every camera location demanded three helicopter trips there and back. Yikes,
Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase, running to 2 minutes 15 seconds, is very press kit-orientated, as Kurylenko – who plays Camille – does some boat stunts.
Director Marc Forster is next up, running to 2 minutes 46 seconds. This, for us, was the most frustratingly shallow of them all, simply because directorial choices for Bond movies have tended to be really quite interesting. There’s not even a hint of getting to the nub of that, though, replaced instead by Daniel Craig and Michael Wilson talking about making a Bond movie. Hmmm.
The Music, which runs to 2 minutes 36 seconds, looks at composer David Arnold, and the orchestra recording the music score. It’s interesting that they use traditional Bond music in this little feature, given the reluctance to use it anywhere but the end credits in the movie itself! You also get Jack White and Alicia Keys warbling on about the title song, and how White wanted something direct and from the gut. Er, right.
Then there’s the crew files. This is effectively the emptying out of the Quantum Of Solace website onto a disc, proven by Michael Wilson’s introduction where he utters the words “what you’ll be seeing on the website”. Lazy, lazy, lazy. There are tons of these things, though, and while in principle they could be quite interesting, they’re so short – generally around a minute each – that they just don’t matter. It basically allows lots of members of the crew – right through to the unit nurse – talking to the camera in turn. You pick your crew member from the list, they deliver their snippet, we all move on.
The Film:The Extras: