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Quantum of Solace (2008) Print E-mail
Monday, 23 March 2009
Image"Quantum of Solace" is the latest in the James Bond saga.  It is loaded with lots of car chases, guns and explosions.  Unfortunately, that is the extent of the film's success.  It is not the worst of the James Bond films, by far.  However, it leaves you feeling unfulfilled.  Apparently, there were enough Bond fans out there to give it a US box office gross of about $168 million.  It is going to sell well on home video, but only to the true Bond fans.

This latest installment lacks the Bond quips that we have all come to know and love.  The Bond girl is fairly weak and the story goes absolutely nowhere.  The film relies completely on the legend and the special effects.

"Quantum of Solace" picks up immediately after the end of "Casino Royale."  James is in the midst of a car chase in Italy on his way back to the safe house.  He has captured Mr. White, the man apparently responsible for Vespa's death.  Once the opening visual effects stuff is over with the movie tames a bit.  Bond goes country hopping to find out who else is involved in the conspiracy that resulted in M getting shot at.

It is at this point that it feels like it is a bunch of bouncing from one shot to another.  The plot of the film is all too simple and dragged out to fill a feature film length.  Dominic Greene is the villain of this story, allying with the Bolivian army to gain some apparently worthless land.  Greene promises to put the army in power as the new dictator in return for a section of the desert.  The British and American governments are getting into bed with Greene in order to ensure oil.

Greene has other plans.  He is siphoning off the water to the Bolivian people, blackmailing the new dictator for more money as the water utility provider.  The Bond girl has her own agenda.  She is out to kill the army general as he executed her family.  Very original, is it not?

Along Bond's way to discovery, he is being framed for the murder of several members of the good team, including his old friend Mathis.  There is a capture or kill order out on him, but nothing will stop him from tracking down Greene and exacting revenge for the killing of Vespa.  That's "Quantum of Solace" in a nutshell.  Actually, that's more than a nutshell.  That is the entire film.

"Quantum of Solace" ends with us still not knowing what Quantum is.  There will surely be another Bond film coming up.  This entire film felt like a prelude to a larger picture.  It was like a two-hour segment of a television show that sets you up for the next season. Despite the average quality of the movie, the video transfer is quite terrific, but not quite perfect.  The Blu-ray comes with a 1080p/AVC encode that gives us a deep image.  The contrast is pushed a bit too hard, lending to some overblown whites.  The black levels are excellent, although the shadow delineation suffers a bit from the boosting contrast.  The colors are dull at times and vibrant at others.  Details suffer from some of the soft edges in the film.  There appears to be some digital noise reduction, as the grain is minimal at times and extensive at others.  Skintones look fairly consistent.  Basically, the film looks terrific but it not memorable.

The audio is much better than the video quality.  MGM gives us a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.  My biggest complaint with the audio track is that it is mastered at a lower than reference volume level.  I was a little worried at the beginning.  Many of the sound effects and music sequences sound like they suffered from data compression due to audible artifacting.  The bass is thumping.  It is persistent throughout the movie, even in the quietest sequences.  The opening also sounds dynamically compressed.  Beyond the opening, the film is stable.  Music and sound effects are well balanced.  The surround channels are constantly engaged.  They are filled with music and discrete effects.  The front and rear divergence is transparent.  Dialogue is clean and clear, so long as you turn your system up past reference level.  There is certainly some reference material moments in this film.

The special features on the disc cover the main topics, but are not that interesting.  The lack of an audio commentary or picture-in-picture track is saddening.  The disc contains a music video for "Another Way to Die."  There are a half dozen featurettes: "Bond on Location," "Start of Shooting," "On Location," "Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase," "Director Marc Forster" and "The Music."  Each of the segments is very brief and not informative.  "Crew Files" contains behind-the-scenes clips.  Lastly there are theatrical and teaser trailers.

"Quantum of Solace" has some excellent video and audio quality material.  However, the film is just not up to par.  Casual Bond fans will probably be interested in this disc, as well as true audio/video afficinados.  You may want to give this disc a gander.

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