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 taken their usual pre-release route and sent me test discs for the film, so I’ve no way to comment on the finalized packaging or any of that. The film does arrive in single, two-disc and Blu-ray editions though, so hopefully one of those will pop up before or around the release date so I can give a more detailed review. As is the menus for the discs are simple and easy to navigate and the watermarked video isn’t worth commenting on as the Fox label interferes with the compression, causing it to go quite blocky at times. The audio, however, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, sounds fantastic with all of the surround usage and subwoofer boom you’d expect from an action-packed flick like this.
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 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 I’m sure the Blu-ray (which doesn’t have any other extras, it just has a 1080p transfer and DTS-HD Master Audio, which is enough of a reason for me to buy it right there) 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 two-disc release is one of the weakest “big feature” releases I’ve seen since The Dark Knight. You won’t get much on the single disc, but it’s really all you need anyway since the rest of the extras won’t tell you much anyway.
Quantum of Solace arrives on single and two-disc DVD and Blu-ray on March 24th.