Thursday, March 19, 2009

DVD of the Week: Quantum of Solace: Two-Disc Special Edition

With the successful reboot of the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale (2006), fans speculated what the next adventure would be and who would be the director. With the new look and attitude expertly established by Martin Campbell, the producers made the decision to have Marc Forster helm the next one, Quantum of Solace (2008). At first, he seems like a rather odd candidate to direct as he’s known mainly for edgy independent films like Monster’s Ball (2001) and the sentimental biopic Finding Neverland (2004). However, his choice makes more sense once you realize that his films are predominantly character-driven and Casino Royale had much more of an emphasis on character than most other Bond films. The question would be could Forster handle the demanding action sequences?

He proves that he’s got the action chops in the film’s prologue where James Bond (Daniel Craig) ruthlessly dispatches several adversaries in a thrilling car chase along busy, twisty country roads in Siena, Italy. This film also returns to the franchise’s trademark opening credits sequence with barely silhouetted naked women float around in some kind of trippy limbo with Bond repeatedly firing his gun as Alicia Keys and Jack White provide a suitably hard-hitting, bombastic duet called, “Another Way to Die.”

Bond is still dealing with the death of Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved in the previous film. He’s also investigating a shadowy organization that boasts having operatives everywhere, including MI-6, much to the chagrin of Bond’s superior, M (Judi Dench). He uncovers one of the secret organization’s high level operatives, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric – a dead ringer for a young Roman Polanski), a man who specializes in overthrowing governments in Third World countries in exchange for their resources. He currently has his sights set on Bolivia but of course Bond is determined to stop him because he also tried to kill the woman he loved in Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig builds on the foundation he established in the previous film. With the death of his lover, Bond has little to live for except for revenge and this gives him an icy intensity that Craig conveys so well with his penetrating blue eyes. He’s been one of the consistently fascinating actors to watch in the last ten years. He’s got undeniable charisma and backs it up with some serious acting chops.

Forster does a surprisingly excellent job creating a lean, no frills revenge story under the guise of a Bond film. He is more than capable of handling the action sequences, of which there are many, and invests us in Bond’s personal quest for vengeance all the while fulfilling the usual expectations of a Bond film: beautiful women, death-defying stunts, exotic locales, and world-dominating villains. In a refreshing break in formula, Quantum of Solace is not a stand-alone adventure but instead wraps up the narrative loose end left hanging at the end of Casino Royale. This gives the film a truly satisfying conclusion as Bond is finally able to put a painful part of his past to rest and move on to the next mission and, of course, the next film.

Special Features:

The first disc features a music video for “Another Way to Die” with Alicia Keys and Jack White in a slick video done very much in the style of the opening credits sequence. As far as Bond songs go, it’s actually quite good and a definite improvement over Chris Cornell’s song for Casino Royale.

Also included are teaser and theatrical trailers.

The second disc starts off with “Bond on Location,” which takes a look at the challenge of finding original locations all over the world for the film that fit the specific visual look that Forster wanted to achieve. This included set design, how the extras looked and so on.

“Start of Shooting” examines the daunting task of following up the phenomenonal success of Casino Royale. Craig had to do much more extensive training for this film, including things like stunt-driving.

“On Location” sees Forster viewing the film’s various locations as characters unto themselves. They shot in some pretty remote areas.

“Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase” takes a look at the new Bond girl and how they viewed her character as Bond’s equal. The actress did a lot of physical training so that she could do many of her own stunts.

“Director Marc Forster” talks about what he brings to the film. The cast speaks admiringly of him.

“The music” examines composer David Arnold’s work on the film and how he tried to reflect its themes in the music. Alicia Keys and Jack White talk briefly about working together and we see footage of them shooting the music video for their song.

Finally, there are “Crew Files,” a collection of mini-featurettes spotlighting various crew members who introduce themselves and then explain what they do on the film with behind-the-scenes footage.

2 comments:

  1. I liked this film, but I did prefer Casino Royale. I do like how they wrapped things up with this film. It's like watching a second half of the reboot. I will be interested to see where they take 007 in the next film.

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  2. Keith:

    I really have to watch CASINO ROYALE again to see if I prefer it of QUANTUM but both were excellent. As you pointed out, this new film really feels like the second half of a much bigger film with CR being the first part.

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