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Quantum of Solace (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/24/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/24/2009

For years, a rumor has circulated that the 1989 James Bond entry Licence to Kill was originally supposed to be entitled "Licence Revoked", but a survey revealed to many Americans didn't know what the word "revoked" meant. If there is any truth to this, it is truly sad. Having said that the latest Bond movie is called Quantum of Solace. I've got a Master's Degree and I had to look that one up. Maybe the people behind the Bond films have gained more faith in the average U.S. vocabulary. Or maybe they have so much faith in the movie that the title doesn't matter. No matter the case, can this movie live up to the new Bond reputation started by Casino Royale?

(Spoiler Warning: The plot points of Quantum of Solace can't be discussed without revealing the ending of Casino Royale. So, read with caution.) Quantum of Solace opens not long after the events of Casino Royale. James Bond (Daniel Craig), Agent 007, is still very angry over the death of Vesper, with whom he'd shared an adventure. While in Italy, Bond has captured Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), convinced that the man has answers to why Vesper had to die. When that interrogation leads nowhere (and M's (Judi Dench) life is threatened), Bond begins a search for other members of White's organization. However, a trip to Haiti puts Bond on the path of another situation. Due to mistaken identity, he meets Camille (Olga Kurylenk), who leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). While on the surface, Greene appears to be a legitimate businessman (don't all villains?), he's actually involved in a very nefarious scheme. Against orders from M, Bond follows Greene in order to stop him.

As with many film series, I would have to assume that James Bond movies are something which people either love or are indifferent to. (I honestly can't see anyone "hating" them.) I've always been in the middle. I've seen my fair share of Bond films and I've enjoyed them, but I certainly wouldn't consider myself a fan and I've never gone out of my way to see one of the movies. In fact the last Bond film that I saw was A View to a Kill. And given the buzz on Casino Royale and my unfamiliarity with Daniel Craig, I had no great plans to see that movie. But, I did rent it and was very surprised by what I saw. Gone were the cheesy pick-up lines and the unrealistic gadgets. This Bond was a muscle-bound man of action who would shoot first and then say nothing. The action scenes in Casino Royale were very well-done, and despite the fact that I didn't understand any of the card-playing scenes, I enjoyed the movie.

Which brings us to Quantum of Solace. Despite the presence of a new director (Marc Forster), I had high hopes for the film. What I found was a decidedly mixed bag. In many ways, Quantum of Solace resembles Casino Royale. Once again, Craig plays Bond as a bad-ass. But, this time, he's even angrier and more out of control and he has no qualms about leaving a trail of bodies on his wake. The movie is filled with elaborate action sequences which cover all of the bases. We get a car chase, a chase on-foot, a boat chase, and an aerial dogfight. And being a Bond film, 007 is surrounded by exotic women. Once change for the good is that there is some much needed levity in the movie, something which was sorely missing in Casino Royale. The fact that Bond kills all of his suspects becomes a dark running joke and Bond even has some humorous lines.

While Quantum of Solace attempts to retain what made Casino Royale such a shock to the system, it also stumbles in places. The story is rather weak and when Greene's big scheme is revealed, it's certainly interesting, but it's not really shocking or moving. Speaking of Greene, the Bond movies have always been driven by the villains and Greene isn't a very good one. Other than being a ruthless businessman, he doesn't seem particularly daunting and as played by Amalric, he seems bored by the goings-on. At 106 minutes, Quantum of Solace seems short for a 007 movie and they could have taken a moment to straighten some things out. How can Bond be stranded at an airport because his credit cards have been cancelled and yet in the next scene he's in another country wearing new clothes and driving an antique motor boat? And what's with the hotel in the desert? Some character could have taken two seconds to mention why this exists. And maybe this is just me, but I wasn't impressed by the foreign countries which Bond visited.

Quantum of Solace shows that even James Bond can change with the times and today, we need a no-nonsense action hero like him. While the movie doesn't live up the promise instilled by Casino Royale, it certainly has its moments and the action scenes (especially the opening) are well done. Of course, there will be another Bond movie and perhaps the script will be tighter on the next one.

Quantum of Solace loses a driver's side door on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, although it does show a fine sheen of grain in many scenes. There are no noticeable defects from the source material. The film has a desaturated look, but the colors are still fine. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture displays excellent depth, most notably in the many landscape shots. We also get a good level of detail here. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Well folks, this track set a milestone; I had to turn it down. That's right, I like my movies loud and the audio is so dynamic here that I had to reduce the volume. From the opening car chase, we are treated to great stereo separation, thundering bass, and effective surround sound. The action from the rear wasn't as detailed and active as other Fox Blu-rays, but it was still very good. The subwoofer in the action scenes is thunderous. The stereo effects are nicely detailed and work great when the audio comes from one side of the screen to the other. Overall, a nice tech package.

The Quantum of Solace Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. "Bond on Location" (25 minutes) examines the locales used in the film. There is a discussion of location scouting, and we then get an in-depth look at how the crew traveled the globe to film the movie. "Start of Shooting" (3 minutes) is a brief look behind-the-scenes of how Director Marc Forster and the cast approached the film. (Some of the material is repeated from the first featurette.) Given the scope of "Bond on Location", it seems odd that the brief "On Location" (3 minutes) would be included, as it gives us a glimpse at the challenges of location shooting. The latest Bond girl talks about her role and we see her rehearsing in "Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase" (2 minutes). "Director Marc Forster" (3 minutes) is a profile of the filmmaker and offers comments from Craig. "The Music" (3 minutes) offers an interview with composer David Arnold and shows him at work. "Crew Files" (45 minutes) begins with an introduction by Producer Michael Wilson and brings us brief profiles of 33 various crew members from the extras caster to crew nurse. (This was taken from a website.) The Disc contains the MUSIC VIDEO for "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys. The extras are rounded out the the THEATRICAL TEASER and the THEATRICAL TRAILER.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long