Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Quantum of Solace

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.
Profanity:Brief strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and non-explicit situation, some non-sexual nudity
Violence/Scariness:Very intense action violence, guns, explosions, fighting, characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters, strong women
Movie Release Date:November 14, 2008
DVD Release Date:March 24, 2008

More like “The Bond Ultimatum,” this is the Bournization of Bond. He may still spend some time in a dinner jacket, but this Bond is not the cool, debonair spy who seldom misses and never questions. This Bond is almost feral. He is seldom sure but he never, ever stops.

For the first time, there is no “Bond, James Bond” introduction and no dry flirtation with the ever-reliable Miss Moneypenny. Past Bonds have seemed like infomercials because they were so overstuffed with product placement, but this version is so stripped down to essence that there is not even time for Q to demonstrate an array of new gadgets so that we can have the pleasure of anticipating each of them in action.

This is the first Bond film to be an explicit sequel, beginning where Casino Royale left off. And so, in addition to non-stop action, brilliantly staged, we get to see Bond in the process of becoming Bond. Craig’s Bond is still near-feral, rough around the edges, his fury not yet under control. In the last film, he showed himself to be damaged but capable of being vulnerable until the death and apparent betrayal of Vesper (Eva Green) left him furious and equally determined to exact revenge and to protect his heart, if not his body or his soul, from any further trauma. Yes, this time it’s personal.

The issue of betrayal arises at all levels in this movie, right from the beginning, when even allies like the Americans and the inside circle of British spies can no longer be trusted. M (Judi Dench, as tart as a Granny Smith apple) has to rely on Bond, who may be rough, edgy, furious, even brutal, but who is not conventionally corruptible.

Every era gets the Bond it deserves. Every Bond is a reflection of his times. The Cold War Bond was the last of the unabashed pre-feminism alpha males. In the run-up to the Reagan era we had the Bond of excess — overstuffed with product placement and plots so literally out of this world that Bond ended up in outer space. And now we have the Bond of the era of compromised morals and unclear alliances. This is a rebooted Bond, building to some future time when gadgets and girls and martinis may re-enter the story.

Some things are unchangeable. No “Bond, James Bond,” Miss Moneypenny, or Q, but Bond does wear a dinner jacket (beautifully) and globe-hop to an array of glamorous locations. All the better for chasing around them and blowing them up. The girl (there must always be a girl) is as bent as Bond is, also driven for revenge and willing to do or destroy anything to get it. But don’t spend any time trying to figure out what the title refers to — basically, nothing. It is the title of a James Bond short story that has no other connection to this movie.

The film is not just tough on Americans; it portrays the world as a bleak and inherently compromised place. The bad guy insists on being paid in Euros, not dollars, and the CIA is willing to sell out just about anyone for oil. But it is another, even more precious liquid that is at risk here. Bad guy Mathieu Amalric (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”) glowers effectively and Gemma Arterton is refreshing as Ms. (Strawberry) Fields. Her departure from the story is, as in Casino Royale, a quick visual homage to an iconic Bond image, reminding us that if our era requires a Bond more gritty and less glamorous, Craig, Dench, & Co., have delivered him.

  • Jason

    By the way, thought it was kind of funny. Her name is actually Vesper, not Vespa. Guess the british accents caught you off guard.

  • certinora

    Perfect movie to collect I should say. Are you still to see the movie it have been just released. It is the hot super action bond movie Quantum of Solace as rest of the world look forward to. love the way bond revenge and the heavy action war took place.

  • Nell Minow

    You’re right! Nine more corrections and you get a copy of my book. Many thanks.

  • Henry

    Strange that you attribute the excessive and over-the-top Bond movies to the Reagan era. Unless the Reagan era began in the mid ’70s during the Ford administration and carried through the Carter administration, your point does work. Moonraker, the movie you mention in which Bond ends up in outer space, came out in 1979, before Reagan’s presidential campaign even began. Only three Bond movies were released during the Reagan years. The first two of those, Octopussy (1983) and A View to a Kill (1985) were the sad remnants of the excesses from the ’70s. The third Bond movie was the first Timothy Dalton movie, where the producers cut down on the gadgets and camp, aiming for a more straight forward action oriented movie. Considering how easy it is to look up movie release dates these days, I’m surprised you could have missed so thoroughly with the Bond movies.

  • Henry

    Double check your Bond movie release dates, Nell. The pinnacle of the over-the-top, campy, gadget and product placement extravaganzas were released in the mid to late ’70s with Moonraker, the Bond-in-space movie, coming out in 1979. Only the final two Roger Moore Bond movies came out in the 1980s (1983 and 1985) and they were really just the sad remnants of the Bond excesses of the 1970s. With movie release dates so easy to check up on, I’m surprised you made that mistake.

  • Leonard

    Dear Nell,
    You said… “But don’t spend any time trying to figure out what the title refers to — basically, nothing.”
    I beg to differ with you. I think the title is very clever. Quantum may refer to the name of this evil “SPECTRE” like organization. Mr. White says that they people everywhere. Meaning a lot of people. A large amount. A quantum of people. Mr. Greene and his cohorts also wear a “Q” lapel pin. Blofeld had his ring and Greene has his lapel pin. Also Bond finds comfort or solace in this film as he learns that Vesper did not betray him, Mathis was not a double agent, “M” believes in him and he avenges Vesper’s death. Bond finds a large amount of comfort… a quantum of solace.

  • Nell Minow

    A very clever unpacking of the title, Leonard. Thanks for writing!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Henry! I’ve revised my review to clarify my point. I appreciate your taking the time to write and am glad to have corrections any time.

  • jestrfyl

    What a pleasant surprise to discover our United Church of Christ denominational website is now linked to this very page on B’net! Welcome!
    I must confess I watch the Bond films mostly for the parts with Q and now R (one of my all time most favorite actors, John Silly-Walks Cleese). It is quite amusing to watch the old films and to discover how many of his cutting edge gadgets are now common place, or dramatically improved.
    I heard a discussion on NPR’s Talk o fthe Nation about the best Bond song. I believe the best is still the Bond Theme – all the others are a part of their respective eras as Q/R’s gadgetry. Any thoughts of your own on the Bond music?

  • Alicia

    Hi, jestrfyl. “Goldfinger” is the best Bond song, though I admit I rather enjoy the theme to “The Spy Who Loved Me.” (Also, the spectacular stunt at the beginning of “The Spy Who Loved Me,” showed how credibility could be strained in a delightful way without breaking.
    Great review, Nell. I can hardly wait to see the film. My background picture on my computer this week is a very scruffy and rugged looking Daniel Craig as Bond, carrying a very politically incorrect gun.
    Nobody does it better.

  • Henry

    The comments section kept claiming my message wasn’t posting successfully, so I kept trying. I’m glad it only posted twice!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for your patience and persistence, Henry. Beliefnet is switching to a new comment system and still working out the kinks. Please bear with us, and please comment often!

  • Nell Minow

    I agree, jestrfyl. My favorite part is the gadgets, too. I’m hoping that since they’ve re-booted Bond and are showing us how he evolves, R (or S, or T) will be in his future (and ours).
    As for the best theme song, I agree with Alicia that “Goldfinger” is, well, the gold standard.

  • meredith

    Nell, may I ask what body part is shown briefly in the “brief nudity” scene? I don’t like surprises!

  • Nell Minow

    There is a brief shot of a nude woman who has been killed and is covered with oil, lying face down on a bed. There are also various characters in skimpy clothes and men with their shirts off in addition to the traditional silhouettes with implied nudity during the credits.

  • Rick

    I have not seen the movie yet, but my guess is that Bond derives an extremely small amount (quantum) of comfort (solace) from an act of revenge. If this is correct, then the title does have significant meaning regarding what happens in the movie. Therefore the title does refer to something in the movie. I apologize if I have stated the obvious or misunderstood your comment.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Rick! That is a very good explanation. And there is an organization in the film named “Quantum,” which provides another layer. But the title comes from a James Bond story that has nothing to do with the plot of this movie, so my point was that any meaning is almost coincidental. Not that I’m recommending a return to the James Bond titles that are just the name of the bad guy. But I think they could do better than this one.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell. I saw this film over my vacation – I have to admit I didn’t like it, though I’m sure I will see the next one.
    I believe they took Bond in way, way, way, too dark a direction in this film – it was well-made, well-acted, and I still love Daniel Craig in the part, but I thought along with the loss of the fun campyness of the original series they also made Bond so morally compromised that it was hard to root for him as the hero.
    Also, non-stop action becomes just as tedious as watching paint dry after a while. “Casino Royale” had a story and a great villain with plenty of time for hero and villain to interact. This film was just a major disappointment to me.

  • s

    Without a doubt, Connery & Brosnan were the gold standard of Bond & my darkest days where during Moore’s farcical portrayal of our favorite 00. So I am pre-disposed not to accept Craig as a bone fide replacement. But even in both movies, Craig is nolt the problem, the producers & directors are. OK. Perhaps my last comments were really a review of Casino not having seen QoS. Now I have seen it and there are so many problems with it I do not know where to begin. All the chases are herky, jerky, shaky staccato film clips. You can never really see what is going on. This is contrary to the traditional Bond flick replete with detail. And if Craig is gritty, moody, mean & vindictive one can still see a path by which he becomes a cooler if not a cold, uber-professional agent with a dry, sardonic sense of humor. This Bond clearly appeals to a feminine perspective that escapes me. I understood him not becoming ‘involved’ with the other women in the 2 flicks as having high standards and was at least relieved to see his response to Fields as, what we would term a normal orientation! (The women seem to love that Bond does NOT ‘hook up’ with the main girl in either film and broods ceaselessly like a forlorn Hamlet for his unrequited lover from Casino). Even the opening chase, usually one of the best, is almost visually incomprehensible. Car chase, rooftop chase, sewer chase, apartment knife fight chase, boat chase, plane chase, Chase-Morgan, certainly they all were purloined from the Bourne genre but somehow Bourne’s were more believable.
    The opening graphics were not as bad as I feared, but were definitely not 007 quality. Far too much of Craig shooting his Walther PPK .380; (don’t make me go into why that is a problem). We have grown accustomed to the sultry, sexual/sensual and awesome graphical intro to the Bond films. This one was not of the same caliber. Ditto on the theme song. It was not a good as past songs but I was fearing worse and it was actually passable relating somewhat to the general theme of the film. The barrel scene was placed at the end of the film. I prefer the beginning but in either case it should be presented with high quality graphics and punctuated with 007 theme song riffs. It was not.
    Lots of chases. Most are barely watchable. I actually liked the reference to the traditional 13th century Italian Palio horse race in which the riders can use their longer wooden canes to encourage their steeds or discourage their opponents; and the actual event was supposed to be occurring outside of the chase area.
    The knife fight was lame. How did the baddie die anyhow? Please tell me not with the little pair of cuticle scissors Bond had. And if the death blow was to the only wounded area shown, the left jugular, where did all the blood go as Bond let him ‘bleed out’. Not to worry the details because we are soon introduced to THE BOND GIRL. Well, a little anti-climatic because she is not quite as attractive as we are used to although she has very pretty lips. The rest of her seems strangely disproportionate for some reason. It’s also strange that she would return to the baddie who just tried to have her whacked. That has little probability for success for someone who we later learn is “Bolivian Secret Service”. Oh well, not to worry, we are off on another chase, this time with boats. It is perhaps the best done but for the last scene in which the grappling hook is somehow thrown onto the rubber speed boat and flips it from the front of Bond’s boat over the top to the rear…… can’t quite figure the physics out on that one. Not to worry, we’ve docked and Bond mysteriously hands the unconscious maiden who he has just rescued over to a dock attendant…what?
    Well were off to track this baddie and somehow reconnected with the GIRL in Bolivia where we eventually learn that the baddie, Mr. Greene of the evil Greene corporation in conjunction with the even eviler Quantum Criminal Consortium LLC has concocted a plot wreaking with the venom of true corporate greed, evil capitalism and nefarious financier-ship; to wit, steal all the fresh water in where? Why Bolivia of course and sell it back to them Bolivians at double the price! MUAHHAHAHAHAHA (evil laugh). We learn at a big party that times are tough in Bolivia because it is costing a weeks wages for an average Bolivian to buy a gallon of clean water! As I remember, the average Bolivian earns about $0.25 per day making the water cost about $1.75 a gallon; pretty much on par with market values in Cleveland. Perhaps this is not the best country for our get richer quicker scheme.
    No matter, we are off to the evil opera where the evil baddies are meeting to plan, well, evil. This is where we juxtapose a modernistic version of the Tosca operatic bloodshed whilst Bond dabbles in the real thing dispatching the body guards of the evil biggies who, now discovered & uncovered, are making a hasty retreat for the exits faster than attendees at an Al Gore speech.
    No matter, while in Bolivia we are matroned by the closest thing to a real Bond girl, agent Fields. Unfortunately we never really figure out what is beneath that trenchcoat although it appears that Bond does. Also unfortunately for Fields and us, she is quickly eliminated by the baddies in what can only be termed as a ‘crude’ theft of the Goldfinger modus operandi. I would have expected more of a mess but why waste camera time on the slickened Fields when you can spend it on bathroom scenes with….who else….M of course. Perhaps the most difficult what seemed to be15 minutes of the film (as if minutes were hours Mr. Spock) was watching M in her bathrobe apply & remove cold creme. The threat itself would have sent Mr. Greene permanently into pro bono philanthropy. Not finished with us yet, M draws her bath and the tension in the theater built noticeably as we all began to fear that we would be greeted with an au natural scene of her slipping out of the robe into the tub. Fortunately we were spared that experience (wait for the unedited version coming to DVD soon!). However, it just calls into question what fob with a mommy complex of some sort is calling the shots in these films.
    M continues to demonstrate why she should not be “M” vacillating from suspecting Bond to needing him back in 00 some 4-5 times during the movie. We did get a glimpse into the possible personality of M’s hubby when he meekly announced, “the calls for you dear on your private line”. Whatever.
    M may welcome Bond back with open arms or have him captured or killed, no matter, the BOND GIRL is rescuing Bond in her getaway car, a 1964 VW Beetle. I guess the Bolivian Secret Service does not get to roll like the 00’s in MI6. At least it was a 40HP!
    No matter. We are now off to a hotel in the middle of a high plains Bolivian desert. Time to charter a plane…no, not the little Beachcraft Bonanza that would actually be faster and more maneuverable. Choose the DC-3 with a load of cargo on board. Watch out though, you’ll get shot down by the Bolvian Air Force in a single engine Marchetti SIA1 (which I have been corrected on and is a fast little number) I guess the BAF doesn’t get to roll like the 00’s at MI6 either.
    No matter because they are both jumping out of that crate with the only parachute. Somehow everything turns out ok after wrestling for 10,000 feet with the BOND GIRL & parachute falling at 120 MPH because the chute opens 20 feet off of our LZ, a nice big soft slab of granite. BTW, the BOND GIRL walks for miles on granite stones in her bare feat…she’s a hearty lass.
    It’s off the hotel to find the baddies. The hotel, located in the high plains desert of Bolivia, is called the Plaza del Sol. It is completely self-sufficient and powered by…solar….no you idiot, hydrogen fuel cells. In fact, each room appears to have its own hydrogen fuel cell and its accompanying hydrogen supply tank. The maids must make your bed and refill your hydrogen tank when they replace the shampoo in the bath, I guess. Naturally the hotel, located in the high plains Bolivian desert is made substantially of steel & stone. Unfortunately, the steel & stone in Bolivia is not quite as durable as the steel & stone you and I have grown to love as we discover when Bond causes a baddie car to crash through a wall igniting a hydrogen tank. The rest of the hydrogen tanks ignite sequentially. Darn it, I hate when that happens, you just can’t get good hydrogen tanks anymore. Again, unfortunately, the Bolivian steel & stone burns more like paper mache. Bond battles the Greene baddie but aborts to rescue the BOND GIRL who is caught up in her own subplot vendetta too trite to be explained here. Mr. Greene escapes into the desert only to meet a cryptic fate induced by other unknown baddies and Bond’s 10W-40 payback for the treatment of luscious Agent Fields.
    You would be better off waiting for this to hit DVD. At least then you can slo-mo or replay the chase scenes making sense of them, spend more time with the slick Agent Fields and most importantly, FFW or skip over M’s bathroom escapades. You have been warned.

  • internet keno

    The bond movies are always fantastic as they consist of every thing which an average viewer wants – action, glamour, thrill and suspense. Personally my favorite bond actor is Pierce Brosnon.

  • internet keno

    We have been to the place last winter and believe me it is one of the finest hotels across the globe with.

  • John Tarrh

    I’ve been a James Bond lover ever since reading the books as a teenager in the 60’s. I think this is one of the best Bond movies ever. I suggest that you read what novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand had to say about these books and the (early) movies that were made from them (see chapter 7, Bootleg Romanticism – written in 1965 – in her book The Romantic Manifesto). She discusses how Bond’s stature is undercut in the movies (after Dr. No) and why, and how the books present Bond as a hero (and why we as humans need heroes in literature). “What people seek in thrillers is the spectacle of man’s efficacy: of his ability to fight for his values and to achieve them. . . What men find in the spectacle of the ultimate triumph of the good is the inspiration to fight for one’s own values in the moral conflicts of one’s own life.”
    In this movie, I believe that Bond is presented as a more pure and heroic character than in any of the other movies. It’s him against the world, especially when even M turns against him. In Ayn Rand’s words, “What they see is a condensed, simplified pattern, reduced to its essentials: a man fighting for a vital goal – overcoming one obstacle after another – facing terrible dangers and risks – persisting through an excruciating struggle – and winning.”

  • John Tarrh

    For a more detailed philosophical analysis of Bond the hero and the reasons for his appeal, see the article by David Gulbraa in Capitalism Magazine (11/13/06):

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