It was the Bond film with the funny name (not that Octopussy was a whole lot better) that no one was quite sure what it meant. A short Bond story that followed Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace didn’t make much of a dent in the public conscious until the trailers started to hit. Finally they were able to overlook the goofy name and focus on the exciting visuals that made the film look so good that it could have been named something even more confusing sounding. While it had a pretty extreme budget of $200 million, the film was the shortest Bond yet…but that didn’t keep it from raking in over half a billion dollars worldwide.
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in this thrilling, action-packed adventure which starts shortly after Casino Royale ends. Betrayed by the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. On a nonstop quest for justice that crisscrosses the globe, Bond meets the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless businessman and major force within the mysterious “Quantum” organization. When Bond uncovers a conspiracy to take control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, he must navigate a minefield of treachery, deception, and murder to neutralize “Quantum” before it’s too late!
My attempts to view Quantum of Solace were nothing short of annoying. The theater I went to see it in initially blew out the center speakers before we were even twenty minutes into the film and it wasn’t later down the line did another opportunity to see it present itself. Annoyed that I had the first part of the film ruined for me already, I didn’t go into the film really hoping for much due to my soured experience, but I definitely left the film more than satisfied. Although I did quite enjoy the opening theme both times (I have a weak spot for the sound of Jack White, what can I say?).
The film starts out immediately with a breathtaking action sequence and it’s not long before another one starts after that. In fact there is almost more action than plot in this one, something I don’t really mind. It’s nice to see a pure-action Bond after all this time, especially since this one picks up pretty much right after Casino Royale ends (and aside from the jarring product placement from that film, these two films would blend together quite well with little to distinguish between the two). There are frequent call-backs to Casino so it’d be a smart bet to watch it before seeing the sequel, otherwise you’ll be left in the dark as the film doesn’t attempt to catch you up on the past events (though there are a few flashbacks).
As much as I enjoyed the film though, I have to say it was really just like watching a new Bourne film. The brutality of the hand-to-hand combat and the frequency of the gunplay and car sequences was so reminiscent of the Bourne films that I couldn’t help but draw comparisons while I watched Quantum. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, as the Bourne trilogy is some seriously bad-ass filmmaking and to see James Bond unleash as he did here was nothing short of fantastic.
As a newly minted Bond fan, I can’t say for sure if Quantum is going to be up there in my favorites in terms of characters and story, but then again it’s unfair to place it alone like that. Casino and Quantum are really just one extended film (split between two companies) and it’s really a disservice to Quantum to ignore that it relies on the plot from Casino to be propelled forward. As a standalone film it may be the worst, but when paired together it’s like a four hour block of bliss.
Overall Quantum of Solace is a straightforward action flick with a few deviations for new characters and scenarios. For the most part, however, this is really just a companion piece to Casino Royale’s more character driven plotline. Not a bad thing, just be sure to brush up on your knowledge before stepping into this one. Highly Recommended.
Fox has released Quantum of Solace in a single disc Blu-ray release which arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. Oddly, there’s no cardboard slipcover and the only inserts inside is a $5 coupon off any other Fox/MGM Bond Blu-ray (Never Say Never Again not included). Disc art features a shot of Craig looking quite weathered (as he does throughout the film) and menus are done in the same slick style as the fancy digital board that we see MI-6 playing around with early on in the film.
Video arrives in an AVC (@28mbps) encoded 2.40:1 transfer that is immaculate. There is a ton of detail to drink in when it comes to this transfer and even the dimly lit scenes, full of grit, are fantastic to look at. There isn’t a frame on this transfer that doesn’t look spectacular and while nothing really makes you say “wow” (well, after that opening car chase), the “Another Way to Die” song in the film looks quit remarkable in 1080p here. Really, I doubt the film could look any better—Fox did a superb job here.
And the audio? The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is absolutely stunning. The film starts out quiet enough, but as soon as those cars hit the screen it just becomes an incredible aural experience as bullets are fired, engines are revved and glass shatters. The mix rarely lets up as well, as the film itself paces itself with the same get-up-and-go attitude a caffeine addict shows and there is rarely a moment that you aren’t getting some kind of surround output or subwoofer boom. Overall it is a stunning and deeply invigorating and enveloping track.
Extras for this release is…well, it’s weak. Then again neither of the Craig films received all that great of treatment (on their first go around at least; I’ve yet to pick up Casino Royale’s new Blu-ray release) treatment on their first time down the release chute. Included are:
“Another Way to Die” Music Video
Bond on Location” 24-minute special feature
Featurettes (Start of Shooting , On Location , Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase , Director Marc Forster, The Music)
The extras on the single disc edition are incredibly weak and the extras on disc two and Blu-ray editions aren’t all that great either. Although the featurettes all do cover the fundamentals that a standard making-of would, so it’s a solid package in that regard. Still, the individual featurettes aren’t all that long individually, so you’ll be done with the extras for this film in under an hour. The lack of a commentary is what’s most surprising to me—I mean this film made over half a billion dollars! Where’s the supplemental love?
All in all it’s a pretty weak release, but the Blu-ray presentation alone is worth picking up and is a step above the rest if you’re looking to buy this film and get more longtime enjoyment out of it. As is this release is one of the weakest “big feature” releases I’ve seen since The Dark Knight. If you have the ability to watch it, then check out Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray—it is simply stunning. Highly Recommended.
Quantum of Solace arrives on single and two-disc DVD and Blu-ray on March 24th.