What went wrong with Quantum of Solace?

edited April 12 in Bond Movies Posts: 4,207
I've done a few of these review/essay things before and they're got good feedback so here's another crack, here's my Cr one from before and I've done so for the Brosnan flicks:

http://www.mi6community.com/index.php?p=/discussion/6862/cr-a-haunting-violent-character-study-into-how-james-bond-became-007/p1

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I’ve always been an advocate of QOS. I’ve always felt that in the years that have passed since its release the film has had to deal with an unnecessary amount of flack that it doesn’t deserve. Having re-watched Casino Royale the other week I thought it high-time that I gave QOS another look. CR was a real breath of fresh air; a bold reinvention of the Bond character in the modern age. What made the film really work was its emphasis on character and the direction at the centre of it. The story was about making Bond human, making him fallible and relatable. However, the film was still inherently a ‘Bond movie’, it had everything you’d want from a Bond flick in it, but the way it handled those ingredients was smart and subversive. It therefore hurts me a little to say this but QOS is a categorical disappointment. But considering the path left before it, did it really stand much chance?

Let me clarify, QOS is not a bad film, it’s just not a great one. The biggest mistake with the film is that it really seems to lose perspective in terms of character development. I said in my CR review previously, good Bond movies work because at their core they function as great thrillers, bad Bond movies tend to rely on action sequences and gadget-whizzardy. What set CR apart from the group was the emphasis taken on character and really charting the arc of how Bond became 007 and making that journey interesting and entertaining. The most annoying thing with QOS is that Bond really doesn’t seem to have any real arc in the film and he stays rather stagnant throughout most of the film. It’s such a shame because Daniel Craig is such a fantastic actor and he never really gets the material he deserves with this movie, there’s no real meat for him to chew on. Bond essentially becomes a charisma-less killing machine with his sole function being to travel the world kicking people’s heads in. This for me was the biggest disappointment of the film, what CR did so wonderfully was humanise Bond, therefore the biggest sin QOS commits is to essentially undo much of this good work by making Bond ‘super human’. When Craig got into a fight in CR he wore his scars both physically and psychologically throughout the film; there is a great pain going on throughout that film, in QOS Bond seems to simply dust himself off and move on to the next location without a second thought. I know the events of the previous film hardened Bond and the man we meet in the last 5 minutes of CR is clearly no longer the more vulnerable person we saw at the start of the film, but QOS interprets this by essentially showing 007 as a cold ruthless bore for 106 minutes.

What is more annoying about this is that in many pre-release interviews Marc Forster really seemed to really be putting Bond on the couch. He talks a lot of how Bond is a very repressed man keeping his feelings to himself and not letting anyone in. A considerable amount of lip service is also provided from Forster telling us how vulnerable Bond apparently is. Well there’s not a lot of that on show as the film moves at such a relentless pace it barely gives the audience let alone Bond a moment for reflection. What’s more irritating is that Craig does get to play some quieter scenes, and it’s these scenes that the film really begins to excel, you really sense a real heartache in those quieter moments and it becomes clear that this guy really is very lonely and isolated with a lot of pent-up angst to boot. It’s a shame then we only get occasional flickers of this element as really it is what the film is actually about.

So what then is the film about? Revenge? Closure? Well I’m not really sure and I’m not sure the team behind it are either. In interviews Forster has said it’s a revenge movie, however Daniel Craig says it’s the opposite. So what is Bond after – vengeance or answers? I understand that ambiguity is a wonderful thing in film and I really do encourage it as it’s a great way to spark conversation but you know things are a little too ambiguous if the audience don’t quite know what the film is about. My interpretation is that Bond is after answers, he has stumbled upon this large organisation that are responsible for his girlfriend’s death and he is purely motivated by his duty to uncover Quantum. However, the events of CR have left him cold, hard and emotionally shut off from the world. Bond is angry and dogged in his determination to get answers, the biggest issue therefore being his overly developed trigger finger. Bond is too quick to kill before asking questions first, this is something which greatly worries his superiors. M begins to fear that Bond’s true motivation is that of revenge and begins to question whether she can trust him or not. Meanwhile, despite his denials it’s clear to the audience that Bond is still reeling from the death of Vesper, but just like in CR, Bond has his armour up and won’t let his true feelings come out. His pain is only really evidenced by Mathis, M and later to some extents by Camille. M begins to question Bond’s motive to chase after Greene and begins to think Bond is actually seeking revenge, however Bond is able to convince her otherwise and it becomes clear that the pair implicitly trust each other. Camille is representative of what Bond could potentially become; a former agent forced out because of her desire for revenge which has consumed her for years, and it seems that a number of times throughout QOS Bond is close to joining her down this route. However, by the end Bond can see the emptiness of Camille’s revenge and when given the opportunity to take down Yusef decides not to. The finale shows Bond as something akin to the finished article; he knows now not to kill before getting answers but more so the ending is deeply personal as it shows Bond getting closure over Vesper’s death. But this arc is far from solid or consistent throughout the film’s runtime.

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Much has been said about QOS’s action overkill and all the stick it gets for it is well deserved. The first act is burdened by 3 huge action sequences (that’s as many as CR and SF have in total over their much longer runtime). The big issue is though that the action doesn’t contribute to either the plot or develop the characters further. There is literally a boat chase and a plane dogfight in the film for the simple sake of it, neither is necessary. Having said this; the action is fantastic, I’m a fan of the shaky cam and often found myself ducking and wincing throughout the segments. I also found myself following the action a lot as well, typically QOS’s editing is accused of detracting from the narrative during the action but I thought it was fine, but this may be because it’s the sixth time I’ve seen the film. The Palio is by far the best chase in the film, it’s artfully handled by Forster and the intercutting of the horse race is a masterstroke in cranking up the tension. The sequence is very much from the Martin-Campbell-school of escalating the stakes whilst telling a story and the final rope swinging section is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The standout scene of the movie is undeniably the opera, it’s classically Bondian but also very Marc Forster-y, the fast editing here is stunning as the whole sequence has a great almost dreamlike quality to it, the whole segment is like a poem on violence.

The real shame of this is that after CR it was clear that audiences loved the more character-driven approach so why did the producers essentially revert back to such a formulaic action template? I said in my CR review that while the action is great the film is a rare example where the character stuff is far more interesting and entertaining than the explosions. It’s almost like they completely ignored what made CR so compelling: Daniel Craig. Here he’s essentially just used as an action-puppet jumping from location to location. It’s almost feels like the prods are apologising for the long casino game in the last movie with sheer action overkill this time around. If that’s the case they have completely misunderstood what made CR so great and refreshing.

Furthermore when the action begins to detract from the plot, you know you’re got issues. Instead of the story unravelling itself it’s left to Greene and Medrano to explain the movie in an overly long exposition scene in Haiti. This scene is a mistake, Bond is a spy and should be uncovering these clues himself we as the audience should never be allowed to get too ahead of Bond, plus it adds to the narrative to have us discover the plot with Bond opposed to being spoon-fed it by the villain.

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However, despite many criticisms I really like the villains in this film and I really feel that QOS is a great example of what a contemporary espionage thriller should look like. First of all the organisation itself is so interesting, the large conspiracy unravelling on screen is fantastic as we see the influence of Quantum stretches from M’s personal bodyguard all the way to the MP’s top advisor. Quantum is almost like a gas, slowly poisoning the room without anyway noticing, I do hope they aren’t abandoning them as I feel they lend themselves excellently to great dramatic possibilities.
Also Forster’s very liberalist stance is very evident throughout the film as QOS is definitely one of the few Bond films that really touches on political and socio-economic ideas. Here the villains aren’t cartoons or caricatures instead the villains are actually the real villains of today: a corrupt and greedy CEO and the CIA. I loved this touch as it’s so true; this is exactly the type of issues that modern spy thrillers should be tackling. Green is a corrupt CEO trying to present the image of an eco-warrior but in actual fact is plundering the South American economy – something that is a very real issue. Another theme of the movie that ties into this is the discussion on heroes and villains. Tapping into Ian Fleming’s nature of evil passage, the lines are most definitely blurred between good and bad throughout with the Americans and later the British willing to work with the villains in the interests of self-preservation – this message is hammered home in the Foreign Secretary scene. This is interesting as it makes us wonder if the real Mi6 and CIA are really representing the interests of their countries or the interests of a few. This discussion is also significant as it ties back to the more ambiguous angry Bond we have in this film who seems to harnass both the darkness and the light. Of course Bond, M and Felix are above their own organisations corruption and will ultimately fight for the good guys.

The best thing in the film though is Judi Dench and her relationship with Daniel Craig. It’s no wonder that Sam Mendes really developed upon this in SF, Dench is fantastic as the weird Mother/son relationship begins to display itself. Neither tells the other how they feel, M is concerned for Bond after the whole Vesper ordeal but only alludes to her concern. Bond appreciates her unease and gives the briefest of smiles when she asks him when the last time he slept was. The Mother relationship is furthered when she freezes his credit cards and passports treating him like a child put on the naughty step. The relationship between Bond and M plays to the main thematic issue for the film and that is ‘trust’; a great theme in espionage fiction. Despite doubting Bond initially it’s clear by the end that M trusts Bond completely and the pair’s relationship is cast in stone. I also got the sense that the two loved each other slightly but obliviously never mix the professional with the personal, there seems to be a lot going unsaid between the pair. Dench is great in the film and Daniel Craig is stellar throughout. The way he moves is fantastic, he’s like a cat and has such magnetic a screen presence, Craig has never looked better than in QOS I think especially when roughed up, he has this great demonic presence. His Bond is perfectly laconic and the coolest cat in any room.

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Say what you want about Forster but this film is really very sexy and stylised and for that I’m grateful and at times reminded me of The Ipcress File. I really enjoyed the little creative flourishes like the location titlecards and dutch-camera angles. Despite dealing with timely issues, the film looks very timeless and if it was not for the cars and the phones the film could easily be set in the ‘60s or ‘70s. I love the look of the film and Roberto Schafer’s very filmic photography is a real treat, especially the stuff in Panama with the bright blue water and sea, it’s a real treat for the eye. Furthermore Dennis Gassner’s sets are stunning and make for such a welcome break after Peter Lamont’s dreary and gaudy eye over the last few Bond flicks. The new Mi6 is a highlight for me and is very reminiscent of the golden era Ken Adam days. I love the cutting back and forth from Mi6 to Panama; it really shows the stark contrast between Bond’s field duties and the relative luxury of things back in London. The Tosca set is also fantastic, Forster struck gold finding that, as the eye is a fantastic metaphor for Bond spying on Quantum as well as a great metaphor for spy fiction period: someone is always watching over you. The eco hotel is also standout and I adore how it just blends in with the desert backdrop. The locations are also great, with Haiti feeling dusty and poverty-stricken contrasted to the very sleek minimalist Bregenz. The desert is also beautiful; I feel Forster was right to set Bond there after Vesper’s betrayal as it really highlights his loneliness and isolation.

The performances are also great, Kurylenko never really gets the material she deserves sadly and aside from the fantastic mercy killing scene never really gets a chance to shine. Arterton’s appearance is pleasant but problematic as it causes as rather large tonal misstep – her light frothy “oh gosh” persona doesn’t quite gel in this dark, brooding no-frills film. Amalric is the one who really shines I think, Greene is a nervous coward in public but confident and menacing in private. It’s helped that he looks quite so scary with those eyes of his. I also liked the weird sexual relationship between him and Camille. David Arnold gives another great score and Jack White’s song has grown on me, however MK12’s title sequence hasn’t. The editing is an issue as the film never lingers long enough on a shot to really let it seep it, which is a shame because some of the framing is really stunning and it does feel occasionally that the film is missing moments. The script is also bone dry with little humour, and the attempts at humour do fall a little flat – teachers winning the lottery? It’s not great. Also the film does still feel like a ‘Bond movie’ despite ditching a number of the key elements - no Q/Moneypenny, none of the catchphrases and little of the traditional wit – we still get Bond, M, the sexy women, villains, exotic locations, glamour mixed with violence etc. It’s not like LTK which does away with much of the formula, but QOS is very much a ‘modern’ or maybe even post-modern Bond film, it has all the traditional elements but plays with them for instance Bond and Camille never consummate their relationship.

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So in conclusion, Solace is an undeniable disappointment and doesn’t live up to its predecessor. The producers made a rod for their own back by making the film a direct sequel as it essentially encourages you to compare the movies. However as a brutal and breathless epilogue to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace does work and is actually a great modern espionage thriller. However, it’s still a messy film and something of a step back after the refreshing Casino Royale.

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Comments

  • edited July 2013 Posts: 6,432
    Just finished watching QoS moments ago and despite its well documented problems i love this movie. Its raw and intense and Craig is hard hitting, i think its often wrongly underated. There are some genuinely brilliant scenes in this film and technically its a very well made movie.

    Must add i always view Qos as the last act of CR and in that context it works well i think.
  • Posts: 5,745
    Underrated? Yes.
    A good Bond film? Yes.
    A good direct sequel? No.

    They should have only gone with the 'direct sequel' approach if they could have convinced Campbell to stay for it. Also, can this not fit here?

    http://www.mi6community.com/index.php?p=/discussion/369/quantum-of-solace-the-worst-bond-flick-to-date/p1

  • Posts: 2,081
    Thank you, @Pierce2Daniel, that was a good read (please proof read though :) ) and now I want to watch it (can't, unfortunately).
    If you want to put your essay into another thread, Dimi's suggestion seems like a good place for it.
  • Posts: 4,207
    Tuulia wrote:
    Thank you, @Pierce2Daniel, that was a good read (please proof read though :) ) and now I want to watch it (can't, unfortunately).
    If you want to put your essay into another thread, Dimi's suggestion seems like a good place for it.

    Thank you. I think my analysis dosen't quite fit there as it's not really a discussion of why QOS is the worst Bond film but more a discussion on the actual themes and execution of the film as a piece of cinema.

    Another element I think is interesting is the small reflections the film has to CR. For instance we see Bond's growth as a character when he kills Slate, instead of botching the job like Bond did often in CR he is shockingly efficient. When he gets Slate over the balcony and kills him I love the way it seems that Bond is checking around the parameter making sure no one heard or saw. We then see Bond clean himself up in a scene very reminiscent to CR after the Obanno fight only then it was clear that Bond had struggled with the killing. In QOS his development as character is clear as he efficiently cleans himself up with little concern or worry. It's a clear sign that we have a seen a progression in the character and now have a much harder colder Bond.

    Also the way Bond holds Camille in the fire is clearly a nod to the shower scene in CR, only this time it's less of a reflective meditative scene and more aggressive and fatal. Which pretty much describes these 2 movies.
  • Posts: 2,081
    @Pierce2Daniel, I agree about the "worst" thread (and besides, I very much disagree with the title of that thread :) ), but Dimi suggested a QOS fan review thread, where your excellent analysis would fit well I think. The further points you added in your second post here are also very good.
  • Posts: 12,626
    jamez007 wrote:
    qos was a terrible bond film he didnt say bond james bond he said it at the end of casino

    Why, you didn't know who he was?
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 13,395
    I've always found QoS perfectly enjoyable as a complex James Bond film. Much better than the Brosnan films, at the very least, although they are often unfairly castigated.
  • Posts: 5,634
    As stated, other threads can accomodate this, but the major complaint for me will always be the pace of action, or things going by at such a speed it seems almost a blur at times. Craig does a great job, lots to get involved in, if only the screen would stay still long enough for you to take in - or even comprehend - what is occuring on screen
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited July 2013 Posts: 13,395
    As stated, other threads can accomodate this, but the major complaint for me will always be the pace of action, or things going by at such a speed it seems almost a blur at times. Craig does a great job, lots to get involved in, if only the screen would stay still long enough for you to take in - or even comprehend - what is occuring on screen

    I think that Forster said he wanted QoS to be as fast and quick as a bullet - not sure why. I think it was a theme of the film - to place the viewer in Bond's shoes much like one of the modern Bond computer games. Not everyone appreciated this slapdash approach to the editing of the film, to say the least.

  • Posts: 12,626
    Dragonpol wrote:
    As stated, other threads can accomodate this, but the major complaint for me will always be the pace of action, or things going by at such a speed it seems almost a blur at times. Craig does a great job, lots to get involved in, if only the screen would stay still long enough for you to take in - or even comprehend - what is occuring on screen

    I think that Forster said he wanted QoS to be as fast and quick as a bullet - not sure why. I think it was a theme of the film - to place the viewer in Bond's shoes much like one of the modern Bond computer games. Not everyone appreciated this slapdash approach to the editing of the film, to say the least.

    I enjoy QOS, I think it is an intelligent Bond movie in spite of its flaws, but yes the fast pace is one of its main flaws. A Bond movie should have its quiet moments too. To be honest, other Bond movies have the same flaw.
  • Posts: 5,634
    If only it had been more pedestrian, it would of been, of could of been, one of the best Bond releases of a good last thirty years

    But even then, you've got banal characters such as Elvis, Dominic Greene etc that fail to invigorate or lift the overall picture. All said, it could of been so much better with one or two adjustments in the right areas
  • edited July 2013 Posts: 11,169
    I wouldn't say QoS was a terrible film. The performances are overall good and there are some decent scenes, but as I said before, its a disappointing one. I think it tries very hard to be an 'Indie' Bond film with its random shots inserted into various scenes (the cocktail food, the ornamental rocks and the couple sitting down at the station) and thats one of its flaws: it thinks its cleverer than it is. The random 'arty' shots, for the most part, don't really add much. It feels a little like a film student wanting to impress (on my last viewing I actually thought some of the sequences looked a bit like a more expensive advert rather than a Bond film). At least Sam Mendes understood that each shot needed to be relevant to the scene and the story.

    One word that can sum it up: erratic.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,103
    BAIN123 wrote:
    One word that can sum it up: erratic.
    Agreed, but in a strange way that's its charm. It's like OHMSS in that way, a unique Bond movie.

  • Posts: 686
    Dragonpol wrote:
    I've always found QoS perfectly enjoyable as a complex James Bond film. Much better than the Brosnan films, at the very least, although they are often unfairly castigated.

    I think I have been saying essentially the same thing about the Craig era.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,103
    Perdogg wrote:
    I think I have been saying essentially the same thing about the Craig era.
    Brosnan was great, his first was awesome, his next two were good, and I challenge anyone saying different to personal hand-to-hand combat.
    ;)
  • Posts: 686
    chrisisall wrote:
    Perdogg wrote:
    I think I have been saying essentially the same thing about the Craig era.
    Brosnan was great, his first was awesome, his next two were good, and I challenge anyone saying different to personal hand-to-hand combat.
    ;)

    I think Brosnan was the victim of bad scripts.

  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,103
    Perdogg wrote:
    I think Brosnan was the victim of bad scripts.
    Partly, and also the victim of hindsight prejudice. His movies were fun, well made, and cool. Wanna hate on Bond films? Look to Moonraker.

  • Posts: 4,207
    If only it had been more pedestrian, it would of been, of could of been, one of the best Bond releases of a good last thirty years

    But even then, you've got banal characters such as Elvis, Dominic Greene etc that fail to invigorate or lift the overall picture. All said, it could of been so much better with one or two adjustments in the right areas

    Despite many criticisms I really like the villains in this film and I really feel that QOS is a great example of what a contemporary espionage thriller should look like. First of all the organisation itself is so interesting, the large conspiracy unravelling on screen is fantastic as we see the influence of Quantum stretches from M’s personal bodyguard all the way to the MP’s top advisor. Quantum is almost like a gas, slowly poisoning the room without anyway noticing, I do hope they aren’t abandoning them as I feel they lend themselves excellently to great dramatic possibilities.

    Also Forster’s very liberalist stance is very evident throughout the film as QOS is definitely one of the few Bond films that really touches on political and socio-economic ideas. Here the villains aren’t cartoons or caricatures instead the villains are actually the real villains of today: a corrupt and greedy CEO and the CIA. I loved this touch as it’s so true; this is exactly the type of issues that modern spy thrillers should be tackling. Green is a corrupt CEO trying to present the image of an eco-warrior but in actual fact is plundering the South American economy – something that is a very real issue. Another theme of the movie that ties into this is the discussion on heroes and villains. Tapping into Ian Fleming’s nature of evil passage, the lines are most definitely blurred between good and bad throughout with the Americans and later the British willing to work with the villains in the interests of self-preservation – this message is hammered home in the Foreign Secretary scene. This is interesting as it makes us wonder if the real Mi6 and CIA are really representing the interests of their countries or the interests of a few. This discussion is also significant as it ties back to the more ambiguous angry Bond we have in this film who seems to harnass both the darkness and the light. Of course Bond, M and Felix are above their own organisations corruption and will ultimately fight for the good guys.
  • RC7RC7
    edited July 2013 Posts: 10,432
    My main problem with QOS is that it didn’t deliver on its promises. Despite there being several decent moments, some slick cinematography, decent set design and a different take on the villainous threat, it will always fall short for me because it’s nowhere near the film it could have been.

    Unlike most of the canon, QOS was billed as a direct sequel from the off. That allows the audience two years to determine how they’d envisage the resolution playing out. This can either meet expectations or deliver a surprising tone and twist (I’m looking at you ESB) that nudges it above its predecessor. QOS did neither for me; instead it went off on its own little relatively inconsequential path. Yes, the villains were afforded a more believable modus operandi, but the threat was lost in the mire. Fleming’s villains were never this dull, whether in name, appearance or through their actions, there was always a sense of theatricality, grandiose pomposity or genuine dread that surrounded them. Silva is testament to this. The fact that the villains appear ‘real’ or ‘relevant’ is not enough of a reason to elevate this movie IMO.

    The opening is mouth-watering; despite the lack of GB we’re flung head-first into the action. It’s quick, it’s snappy and I can even forgive Dan Bradley’s vérité styling, which incidentally contributes far more to the erratic nature of the action than Matt Cheese and Rick Pearson’s editing. There’s only so much an editor can do when they’re given the types of rushes evidently delivered throughout most of the QOS action. I was excited when the titles kicked in and the following interrogation of White played out beautifully - I was hooked.

    But, within minutes of the ensuing foot chase I’m beginning to worry. Having witnessed a moment of break-neck action a mere five minutes earlier I’m hoping for a little more exposition, a little breathing space. All of a sudden we’re back in London and the pursuit of Mitchell has become the catalyst for a series of location-hopping action scenes into which they parachute a Bond-girl backstory, an underwhelming and non-threatening (however beautiful) introduction to ‘Quantum’, plus an apparent lack of any reference to the exploits of CR bar a few lines here and there to remind us this is supposed to be an immediate follow on. By trying to create a standalone film while simultaneously juggling the half-baked lingering threads of the previous outing, the film was only ever going to fall between two stools.

    I’ve heard some really good analysis of QOS, with some interesting justifications. However, I can’t help but feel a lot of this was painstakingly constructed with the benefit of hindsight and a lot of creative licence. It’s almost like a few posters have talked themselves into believing this is some kind of mini-masterpiece when objectively I don’t think it is. Naturally, I’m sure there are also a few who do genuinely find it a great bit of cinema. I don’t hate it and like many in the canon; it has moments that I genuinely look forward to. As a whole though, particularly when sandwiched between SF and primarily CR, it starts to look like an experiment gone awry, rather than a thrilling, cohesive piece of film making.
  • Posts: 6,396
    jamez007 wrote:
    qos was a terrible bond film he didnt say bond james bond he said it at the end of casino

    To says QoS is a terrible film (which I'm not necessarily disagreeing with) because he doesn't say his name is a pretty poor criticism. That surely cannot be the only reason you have for disliking it.
  • Posts: 11,169
    RC7 wrote:
    My main problem with QOS is that it didn’t deliver on its promises. Despite there being several decent moments, some slick cinematography, decent set design and a different take on the villainous threat, it will always fall short for me because it’s nowhere near the film it could have been.

    Unlike most of the canon, QOS was billed as a direct sequel from the off. That allows the audience two years to determine how they’d envisage the resolution playing out. This can either meet expectations or deliver a surprising tone and twist (I’m looking at you ESB) that nudges it above its predecessor. QOS did neither for me; instead it went off on its own little relatively inconsequential path. Yes, the villains were afforded a more believable modus operandi, but the threat was lost in the mire. Fleming’s villains were never this dull, whether in name, appearance or through their actions, there was always a sense of theatricality, grandiose pomposity or genuine dread that surrounded them. Silva is testament to this. The fact that the villains appear ‘real’ or ‘relevant’ is not enough of a reason to elevate this movie IMO.

    The opening is mouth-watering; despite the lack of GB we’re flung head-first into the action. It’s quick, it’s snappy and I can even forgive Dan Bradley’s vérité styling, which incidentally contributes far more to the erratic nature of the action than Matt Cheese and Rick Pearson’s editing. There’s only so much an editor can do when they’re given the types of rushes evidently delivered throughout most of the QOS action. I was excited when the titles kicked in and the following interrogation of White played out beautifully - I was hooked.

    But, within minutes of the ensuing foot chase I’m beginning to worry. Having witnessed a moment of break-neck action a mere five minutes earlier I’m hoping for a little more exposition, a little breathing space. All of a sudden we’re back in London and the pursuit of Mitchell has become the catalyst for a series of location-hopping action scenes into which they parachute a Bond-girl backstory, an underwhelming and non-threatening (however beautiful) introduction to ‘Quantum’, plus an apparent lack of any reference to the exploits of CR bar a few lines here and there to remind us this is supposed to be an immediate follow on. By trying to create a standalone film while simultaneously juggling the half-baked lingering threads of the previous outing, the film was only ever going to fall between two stools.

    I’ve heard some really good analysis of QOS, with some interesting justifications. However, I can’t help but feel a lot of this was painstakingly constructed with the benefit of hindsight and a lot of creative licence. It’s almost like a few posters have talked themselves into believing this is some kind of mini-masterpiece when objectively I don’t think it is. Naturally, I’m sure there are also a few who do genuinely find it a great bit of cinema. I don’t hate it and like many in the canon; it has moments that I genuinely look forward to. As a whole though, particularly when sandwiched between SF and primarily CR, it starts to look like an experiment gone awry, rather than a thrilling, cohesive piece of film making.

    ^^
    Pretty much all this!!

  • edited July 2013 Posts: 3,494
    Here's what went wrong with QOS on a technical level-

    1. Obviously, the style of filming and editing that doesn't fit what we've come to expect from this franchise.

    2. The writer's strike which left two non-writers in Craig and Forster in charge.

    3. Forster's rush to make the film "fast and tight like a bullet" affected both of the above.


    Here's what went wrong with the script, which does indeed vacillate in presenting a clear picture of Bond's motivations. Does Bond want revenge or does he want to just to do his job and get closure that way?

    1. Yusef Kabira. Woefully under used, we should have seen Bond pursuing him after White got away. Other than White, those who saw CR knew Kabira was his only other link to QUANTUM. Instead, Bond decides he's just an unimportant flunky and they send us off with the Mitchell angle leading to Mr.Slate, Camille, and finally Greene. It makes me wonder why Bond took Yusef's picture with Vesper to identify him in the first place? Misdirection in a storyline can be brilliantly done (see TLD) but this doesn't make sense especially since Bond finds Kabira through Greene and not through any detective work. Finally, I have to acknowledge what poster @Matt_Helm notes in another QOS thread. If Greene notes at the opera house that Kabira is busy seducing the Canadian agent Corrine Veneau and adds the kicker he suggests- "girls just do anything for him. Even die"- we would have better understood Bond's rampage and why they saved his comeuppance for last. Not that the end scene when Bond shows M that he's fully learned his lessons regarding being the professional spy she wants him to be isn't a fantastic way to end the film and bring the character full circle, but again too little weight is given to Kabira and the role he played in Vesper's betrayal and death.

    2. Camille. Again as stated elsewhere, it makes little sense why Bond would leave her behind at the docks when she had vital information about Greene. Why does he wait until later to change his mind and enlist her assistance when he could have had it all along? I know this is a character progression and all, but when did Bond ever leave a beautiful woman behind, especially one who had more value than just a roll in the sack?

    3. Why doesn't Bond deny shooting Haines' bodyguard when M accuses him of doing so? If he tells her "well, I threw him off the roof but it was Greene's man who shot him dead", it becomes a little easier for him to convince her that he's not out randomly killing off leads. Instead she has no choice but to abandon him to the CIA as a loose cannon.

    4. The capture and death of Fields, and the capture of Mathis. With Fields, all we see is a look on Greene's face after she trips that goof Elvis. Not even him slowly walking down the stairs, with perhaps a knife in hand to take her away quietly from the party. Imagine if we see her being interrogated by Greene while suspended above a vat of crude oil, begging for her life, stating she's just a girl working in the local MI6 office with a minimum of security clearance? This can only make Greene a better villain, and even Elvis can have something to do by lowering her to her death, rather than taking up screen time doing absolutely nothing. Instead we get a note indicating she went back to the hotel long enough to warn him to run, and then her oily corpse. How do you get people behind her death as a nod to Jill Masterson with her storyline full of more holes than swiss cheese? With Mathis, all we really needed here was to show Carlos walking him into a room with Greene, Elvis, Medrano, and a few big, rough looking state policemen on a ruse that he had info and they needed to talk quietly. Showing his beating or him being placed in Bond's car trunk/boot wasn't necessary after that, although it could have only added to Greene's villainy.

    5. The water plot. Again, so little emphasis is placed on it that it's easy not to invest in what should be one of the plot keys. The viewer is left to guess that Greene's idea to monopolize potable water (which is a great idea if done right) for profit and political control is what is happening. A little more info from him regarding the scope of his plans could have made a difference.

    All of these things could have been rectified if about 5-10 minutes of scenes were filmed. We still would have had the messy action editing, but at least the storyline would have been more coherent. There are some things here that went right, in particular the last half hour of the film finished strong and made sense regarding finishing the progression of Bond from a rookie to the finished product and getting closure for his feelings for Vesper and what the whole affair meant, but that's for a review of the positive aspects of the film.
  • Posts: 11,169
    @SirHenryLee

    One thing that puzzled me is Why doesn't Bond tell M that Greene was after the water rather than the oil supply when they meet in the hotel room? It seems a fairly big detail to leave out and I'm not entirely sure I believe the explanation that Bond felt she wouldn't believe him. He had nothing to loose in doing so. By withholding the information from M he keeps her in the dark even more and makes the situation more complicated than it need be.
  • edited July 2013 Posts: 3,494
    @Bain- another good question and another hole in the plot. All we get past his anger about Fields and M's attitude is him telling her that oil is not part of the equation as Greene has led both the CIA and MI6 to believe. He ignores her question as to what is Greene's purpose in drowning Fields as simple misdirection but in fairness in this scene she doesn't really give him any time to explain himself or what Greene is doing after he ignored her orders to come home and debrief. As far as the actual acting the whole confrontation is well done by both Craig and Dench, but it's another example of plot issues and what can go wrong when a movie is rushed due to the issues this film faced. Nothing at all to do with a 2 year rather than a 3 year cycle, a Bond film can properly be done in 2 if the script is ready to go and coherent. It still makes me think P&W had the better script ideas in this particular case, as long as they dropped the "Bond becomes an adopted father" angle.

  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited July 2013 Posts: 13,395
    Perdogg wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    I've always found QoS perfectly enjoyable as a complex James Bond film. Much better than the Brosnan films, at the very least, although they are often unfairly castigated.

    I think I have been saying essentially the same thing about the Craig era.

    Except Skyfall, no? I did get the impression that you weren't a big fan of that one, no?
  • Posts: 4,207
    RC7 wrote:
    My main problem with QOS is that it didn’t deliver on its promises. Despite there being several decent moments, some slick cinematography, decent set design and a different take on the villainous threat, it will always fall short for me because it’s nowhere near the film it could have been.

    Unlike most of the canon, QOS was billed as a direct sequel from the off. That allows the audience two years to determine how they’d envisage the resolution playing out. This can either meet expectations or deliver a surprising tone and twist (I’m looking at you ESB) that nudges it above its predecessor. QOS did neither for me; instead it went off on its own little relatively inconsequential path. Yes, the villains were afforded a more believable modus operandi, but the threat was lost in the mire. Fleming’s villains were never this dull, whether in name, appearance or through their actions, there was always a sense of theatricality, grandiose pomposity or genuine dread that surrounded them. Silva is testament to this. The fact that the villains appear ‘real’ or ‘relevant’ is not enough of a reason to elevate this movie IMO.

    The opening is mouth-watering; despite the lack of GB we’re flung head-first into the action. It’s quick, it’s snappy and I can even forgive Dan Bradley’s vérité styling, which incidentally contributes far more to the erratic nature of the action than Matt Cheese and Rick Pearson’s editing. There’s only so much an editor can do when they’re given the types of rushes evidently delivered throughout most of the QOS action. I was excited when the titles kicked in and the following interrogation of White played out beautifully - I was hooked.

    But, within minutes of the ensuing foot chase I’m beginning to worry. Having witnessed a moment of break-neck action a mere five minutes earlier I’m hoping for a little more exposition, a little breathing space. All of a sudden we’re back in London and the pursuit of Mitchell has become the catalyst for a series of location-hopping action scenes into which they parachute a Bond-girl backstory, an underwhelming and non-threatening (however beautiful) introduction to ‘Quantum’, plus an apparent lack of any reference to the exploits of CR bar a few lines here and there to remind us this is supposed to be an immediate follow on. By trying to create a standalone film while simultaneously juggling the half-baked lingering threads of the previous outing, the film was only ever going to fall between two stools.

    I’ve heard some really good analysis of QOS, with some interesting justifications. However, I can’t help but feel a lot of this was painstakingly constructed with the benefit of hindsight and a lot of creative licence. It’s almost like a few posters have talked themselves into believing this is some kind of mini-masterpiece when objectively I don’t think it is. Naturally, I’m sure there are also a few who do genuinely find it a great bit of cinema. I don’t hate it and like many in the canon; it has moments that I genuinely look forward to. As a whole though, particularly when sandwiched between SF and primarily CR, it starts to look like an experiment gone awry, rather than a thrilling, cohesive piece of film making.

    I understand your issues, but I feel that I'm not constructing something in my initial analysis to somehow cover up the cracks in QOS.

    I know its long but I think if your read my analysis above I think you can definitely see the merits as well as the mistakes of QOS.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 13,395
    chrisisall wrote:
    Perdogg wrote:
    I think Brosnan was the victim of bad scripts.
    Partly, and also the victim of hindsight prejudice. His movies were fun, well made, and cool. Wanna hate on Bond films? Look to Moonraker.

    I agree - especially on Brosnan as a victim of victim of hindsight prejudice. That's the most sensible thing I've seen written on these boards in a while, @chrisisall. Brosnan's Bond films (even DAD, especially DAD) were immensely popular on release - a canard has now developed during the Criag era that Brosnan wasn't accepted bv the fans when nothing could actually be further from the truth.

  • Dragonpol wrote:
    chrisisall wrote:
    Perdogg wrote:
    I think Brosnan was the victim of bad scripts.
    Partly, and also the victim of hindsight prejudice. His movies were fun, well made, and cool. Wanna hate on Bond films? Look to Moonraker.

    I agree - especially on Brosnan as a victim of victim of hindsight prejudice. That's the most sensible thing I've seen written on these boards in a while, @chrisisall. Brosnan's Bond films (even DAD, especially DAD) were immensely popular on release - a canard has now developed during the Craig era that Brosnan wasn't accepted bv the fans when nothing could actually be further from the truth.

    We're getting off the subject here and there are plenty of threads to cover this. This is about QOS' failures and not Brosnan's.

  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 13,395
    Dragonpol wrote:
    chrisisall wrote:
    Perdogg wrote:
    I think Brosnan was the victim of bad scripts.
    Partly, and also the victim of hindsight prejudice. His movies were fun, well made, and cool. Wanna hate on Bond films? Look to Moonraker.

    I agree - especially on Brosnan as a victim of victim of hindsight prejudice. That's the most sensible thing I've seen written on these boards in a while, @chrisisall. Brosnan's Bond films (even DAD, especially DAD) were immensely popular on release - a canard has now developed during the Craig era that Brosnan wasn't accepted bv the fans when nothing could actually be further from the truth.

    We're getting off the subject here and there are plenty of threads to cover this. This is about QOS' failures and not Brosnan's.

    Sorry. You have my apologies, Sir Henry.
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