Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quantum of Solace - Casino Royale 2

Quantum of Solace - 2008

Bond: Daniel Craig
Directed by: Marc Forster
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli 
Theme: "Another Way to Die" performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys, written by Jack White

This movie was billed as perhaps the first direct sequel in the Bond franchise. It's true, the action picks up exactly where Casino Royale left off, but aside from that and continued references to Vesper, it's about as much of a sequel as From Russia With Love is. The primary plot and characters really bear no direct relation to previous film. This isn't The Two Towers or The Empire Strikes Back or anything like that. Still, clocking in at a short 106 minutes, I do suggest watching this movie back-to-back with Casino Royale, or at least within a week of one another. It retroactively adds some clarity to Casino Royale, and the warm fuzzy glow you have from watching Casino Royale will help keep you from realizing there's not much to Quantum of Solace.

I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way. It's a very nice 106 minutes. It's just a little heavy on the action and lacking in the character development spectrum. The two films really just make each other better, like strawberries and champagne. They're more co-dependent films than parts 1 and 2.

Where Casino Royale focused on terrorism, Quantum of Solace focuses on environmentalism and greenwashing. Our squirrely, ferret-like villain Dominic Greene (played creepily well by Mathieu Amalric) uses an environmental conservation company as his legitimate business front, when really he's conspiring to do nasty things to Bolivia. Why do we care about Bolivia? We don't. We care that Greene is part of the mysterious crime organization that lead Vesper to her death and is thus Bond's target for revenge. Then, to make the story even more personal, we bring in "Bond Girl" Camille Montes, played by the stunning Olga Kurylenko, who is after the Bolivian General for murdering and raping her family. This is the personal revenge story that License to Kill was trying to be.

I put "Bond Girl" in quotes above because Camille and Bond never sleep together. Outside of M, it's probably the only strictly platonic male/female relationship Bond has in the franchise.

The entire time I watched the movie I wanted the name of the mysterious crime organization to be SPECTRE, except of course I  knew that it couldn't be because Kevin McClory owns SPECTRE. Still, I thought naming it Quantum to somehow tie in the title more was a little cheap. The title, incidentally, is the name of one of Ian Fleming's Bond short-stories. Specifically, Fleming wrote "when the 'Quantum of Solace' drops to zero, humanity and consideration of one human for another is gone." That theme is the only direct connection between the movie and the story.

The true Bond Girl of this film is Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields, which somehow works as a perfect Bond-Girl name without really having any overtly sexual implications. She's the perfect embodiment of how Bond's charms get him laid and get people killed. Her death is a deliberate reference to the death of Jill Masterson in Goldfinger. Their character arcs are similar, and their deaths are nearly identical, only now oil has replaced gold in its importance and value.

The real "sequel" moments come when (SPOILER ALERT) Mathis dies, because that's just sad and the emotion is heightened by his character arc stretching back to the previous film, and at the end when Bond finally confronts the man who tricked Vesper into loving him. Remove those, however, and the movie stands alone very well.

Personal Rankings: In spite of everything I just said about this movie not really being a sequel, I still always think of it and Casino Royale as being one long movie. If I had to place it on its own, it would come in at #9. 
  1. Goldfinger
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. Casino Royale / Quantum of Solace
  4. The Spy Who Loved Me
  5. Live and Let Die
  6. You Only Live Twice
  7. Tomorrow Never Dies
  8. GoldenEye
  9. The Living Daylights
  10. For Your Eyes Only
  11. The World Is Not Enough
  12. Dr. No
  13. Octopussy
  14. Diamonds Are Forever
  15. A View to a Kill
  16. License to Kill
  17. Thunderball
  18. Die Another Day
  19. The Man with the Golden Gun
  20. Moonraker

2008 Context

President: George W. Bush
Queen: Elizabeth II

Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States

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