This Week in Movies: Quantum of Solace

Andrew Burford

Despite an infamous reputation for sequels of film franchises to regurgitate the same film over and over again to new crowds, change can happen even in Hollywood. Let’s take a look at Batman Begins and The Dark Knight for example. As if anyone remotely close to civilization forgot, Christopher Nolan’s new direction for Batman proved to be one worth taking for Warner Brothers. Begins successfully turned Batman on its head with its dark overtones, thereby prompting the even darker, even more different Knight to be one of the best-reviewed films of 2008 and the second-highest domestic-grossing film of all time. The superhero genre as we knew it was changed forever.

Still, is change always good? Surely Hollywood’s reputation for the status quo has some explanation to it outside of just money. Can change backfire?

Of course it can. Quantum of Solace, the next chapter in the Bond franchise, demonstrates this idea rather well. As most people know, James Bond is a global icon, and he’s been one for a long time. He is a classic spy character known for his style, charm and aggressive nature. People like him because of these characteristics. People have made the franchise wildly successful for these reasons. After all, any average moviegoer can tell you the difference between an action movie and a Bond movie.

So why fix it if it ain’t broke? Well, if Casino Royale was any indication, it’s because fixing it can make it work better. Though the franchise was never really “broken” between 2002’s Die Another Day and 2006’s Royale (as Day was well-reviewed and still holds the franchise’s second-largest opening weekend take), a new direction was nevertheless taken by hiring the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Daniel Craig to play Bond in Ian Fleming’s very first novel of the series. In the end the move was a wise one (as Royale became the highest-grossing worldwide Bond release ever), leaving Sony under the impression that change might just be what’s best for James Bond these days.

Yet change can be deceiving if Quantum has anything to say about it, as nearly all of the charm and style of previous Bonds goes missing in this installment. Gone are the days of Bond one-liners, martinis and cars. Even Royale remembered how important such Bond subtleties are despite that film’s drastic changes to the series.

Working as a continuation of Royale’s plotline, Quantum follows Bond on a mission to avenge the death of his former love, Vesper. His search for answers eventually leads him to the truth behind an environmentalist group’s attempt to take control of a country’s water supply. Again, without a real Bond flavor in the mix, Quantum’s story simply falls flat.

One thing that hasn’t changed for the worse, however, is the action. Though Quantum is the shortest Bond film ever made (at 105 minutes), it is also the most expensive one (as well as the most expensive film made per minute in history), which should keep viewers very pleased with its elaborate and impressive sequences. But was all that money really worth it? Only time will tell.

Quantum of Solace is currently playing in town at the Hamilton Theater.