One could argue that Quantum Of Solace is the fastest, most in-your-face Bond movie ever made. Making sense of it all (after one viewing especially) can be a difficult task. I'd like to take this post and analyze some things about the movie. After seeing it twice, once from a fan perspective and the second in 'analysis mode,' I feel I have a better understanding of not only the movie itself, but also where the 007 is headed in Bond 23. Although my following commentary is merely opinion and could be taken with a grain of salt, I'd like to think that they will at least provoke you to see the good and bad, the holes and uniqueness of James Bond's 22nd adventure. I'll type through the movie as it happened (yes, I took notes on my phone), giving talking points and questions about certain scenes that stood out as I watched.
Part 1 - The Beginning
The helicopter shot to the Italian countryside first reminded me of the sweeping shots seen in Jurassic Park when Dr. Alan Grant travels to the island - beautiful scenery. Cinematography never seen before in a Bond movie introduced us to the first chase sequence - shadows and closeups of Bond's Aston Martin flashed on the screen as the adventure began. A melodic, yet fast paced tune sneaked up on us as gunshots erupted and the audience was thrust into a car chase - which was second to none for a Bond movie, both in visual appeal and action. As the chase winded down and Bond arrived at his destination, White in trunk, the playful "he made it" tune reminded me of music from For Your Eyes Only.
Another Way To Die ensued, along with the interrogation/Palio di Siena scene, which I absolutely loved. The double cross that followed actually made me jump out of my seat, totally not expecting the Quantum organization to penetrate that deep into MI6. Did anyone else think that M got shot in this scene? Also, I was a little perplexed as to why everyone kept calling her "mum" for most of the movie. A term of endearment perhaps?
As Bond travels throughout the movie, we notice that the current setting is displayed on the screen in exotic fonts - a great reminder for us as to where Bond actually is. I wonder why this wasn't done more regularly in previous movies as it helped a lot in knowing Bond's location and progression of his mission. Speaking of setting, Quantum gave us some great visual insight into MI6 headquarters, arguably the most of any Bond movie. The contemporary feel of MI6's clear glass doors, sprawling layouts and Microsoft Surface-like presentation screens reminded me more of Ari Gold's talent agency headquarters from HBO's Entourage than a government agency. I went along with it though.
From La Paz (Bolivia), Siena and Talamone (Italy), Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Bregenz (Austria), London (England) and Kazan (Russia) - Bond's passport gets stamped in this movie! Starting out in Port-au-Prince, Bond's first interaction with Camille and subsequent fight sequence with Slate resembled the Jason Bourne/Desch fight in The Bourne Ultimatum. Unlike Bourne's headlock of death, however, Bond crudely kills Slate with a glass shard to the neck, as a pool of blood began to form. Yuck! But what a badass! (Yes, Bond > Bourne)
Bond seems to be done with an unconscious Camille as he declares her 'seasick' and literally hands her over to a deckhand after the boat chase with Medrano's thugs. It is then revealed that Dominic Greene's sinister cover organization Greene Planet is his means of operation for manipulation - all part of a tangled foreign relations mess between the United States, Britain and Bolivia. Gregory Beam, the CIA contact (and Felix Leiter's superior?), comes off as pretentious, and shows proof positive when he agrees to the coup in Bolivia in exchange for a lease on an oil supply. What a scumbag! Makes you wonder how much of this goes on in real life...
Part 2 - The Chase Is On
Off to Austria where Bond crashes the Quantum meet up at the Puccini opera (hint of The Spy Who Loved Me anyone?) and uses his super phone's facial recognition (I thought it was somewhat lame) to identify Quantum members. Bond's spy side shines here, however, and when the party breaks up, I thought the chase/opera combo sequence that followed was refreshing for a Bond movie - it definitely fit well.
We then are thrown into a rather bizarre scene where Bond and M (mum) converse on the phone. Was it really necessary to have her apply facial moisturizer with her husband in the background seemingly ready to 'keep the British end up'? The scene just seemed odd. Why not the traditional wake-her-up-with-a-3AM-phone-call scene?
Bond's rebel nature appears as the shady pact between Britain and the United States comes to fruition. James has none of it and goes against orders, traveling to Talamone to meet his friend Mathis to acquire a passport and matching credit cards, this just before duping MI6 into believing he was trying to go to Cairo, Egypt from Bregenz. Mathis seemed to be more than happy to help, traveling with Bond as they try to find more about Greene's Tiara (sp?) project. We saw Bond in a rather drunken state on the plane ride, and we now know how many slices of lemon peel to order with our shaken martini (six).
After M successfully finds Bond and sends Agent Fields to fetch him (big mistake) the audience is treated to humorous hotel scene, where Bond shuns Fields' choice of a grungy, low-profile hotel (Bond: "I'd rather stay at a morgue.") for one more fitting for the extravagant Bond we all know. Laughs erupted as Bond insisted on using Fields' cover that they were teachers on sabbatical when check into the hotel...but with a twist: they happened to be teachers on sabbatical that just won the lottery. Well done!
As Bond surveys their hotel room, the sexual tension mounts. Will they? Bond then delivers one of his weakest (and funniest) enticement lines to a Bond girl ever when he asks if Fields can help him "find the stationery" in the room. Hey, it worked! It was also funny to see Fields squirm in bed afterward, not believing what she had just done, especially after just meeting 007!
Part 3 - Focus On Greene
Bond and Fields attend Greene's Eco Park Charity Fundraiser for a short time, and then all hell breaks loose. Corrupt cops stop Bond on his way back to the hotel (how many times have we seen Bond actually pull over when directed, anyway?), and Bond knows something is wrong when the officers immediately ask him to open the trunk (the second body in a trunk in the movie, for those keeping track). A battered Mathis is inside, and a great hand-to-hand combat scene follows that ends with Mathis' unfortunate demise. Bond then realizes how the situation unfolded, and asks a dying Mathis if his name was just a cover. A great dialogue is exchanged: "Can we just forgive each other?" "Forgive her...Forgive yourself." This sad scene is quickly trumped by Bond's insistence on throwing Mathis in the trash (a little explicit, don't you think?).
M then meets with the foreign secretary back in London where he prods her to control Bond. Her reluctance is palpable: "I don't give a sh*t about the CIA or their tropped up evidence! He's my agent, I trust him!" Whoa, M swearing, who'd have thought???
She then travels to Bond and Fields' hotel to personally see his return only to find Agent Fields dead, covered in oil (Goldfinger nod, of course). Bond and M converse for a second and Bond almost is taken away - this before he cleverly evades capture and heads to Medrano's headquarters to foil his plan to take control of Bolivia. I thought the use of the over-sized plane was a little much and that the scene would have been fine giving him a small prop plane. And would it really have been so horrible to give them parachutes? And I think the cave scene could have been done a little better, although we do find out that Greene's focus is water, not oil.
Part 4 - The End
The showdown at Medrano's base was action packed. We find out the complete scope of Greene's plan to exploit the water supply, holding Medrano's newly found government 'hostage' for water unless he commissions Greene Planet for the country's utilities for a bloated sum. We saw Bond give advice to Camille about her first kill - with dialogue unique to any Bond movie. And we all know what happens to the villain's base at the end of any Bond movie. The movie's body-in-trunk count goes to three as Bond shoves Greene in the back of his Ford Edge and drives him 20 miles out to the middle of the desert and, well, deserting Greene there - with only a can of motor oil to quench his thirst.
The last few scenes of the movie really tied it all together nicely, with Bond finally getting his 'quantum of solace' in avenging Vesper's death and finally putting the thought of her to rest by tossing the Algerian love knot necklace he gave her in the Russian snow in defiance. Not sure why the gun barrel sequence was at the end of the movie (a little odd), but better than having no gun barrel at all!
So what is in store for Bond in his next adventure? Just how vicious will the Quantum organization be in Bond 23? I cannot wait to find out!
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