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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Quantum of Solace

And we return to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of something in my movie collection, and then blogging about it, because why not?  Today, I officially run out of James Bond movies in my collection with Quantum of Solace.  This originally appears in my notes at June 9, 2013.

Quantum of Solace movie poster

Well, this should be the end of my run on 007 for a good long while.  It's neat that I finally got Quantum of Solace on Blu-Ray.  When I first bought my Blu-Ray player, I'd hoped to make it the first Blu-Ray I bought, but it had just gone on moratorium and had become difficult to find.  But thanks to the Skyfall hype and all the James Bond movies being re-released and nice and cheap, there it was, in a nice little 2-pack with Casino Royale.  

Now with Quantum of Solace, the James Bond makers decided to try something a little different.  For the first time ever, they decided to make a James Bond movie a direct sequel to the one before.  That meant Quantum of Solace was going to directly acknowledge Casino Royale, tie up its loose ends, and continue on with the story.  And, in a way, it was a good idea.  We knew very little about the shadowy organization that Le Chiffre worked for, and if Vesper got under Bond's skin as much as we were led to believe, Bond would have some grieving to do and/or be out for revenge.  And they got a lot of the same behind-the-scenes talent to work on it and continue the story they had begun.

The film begins literally just 10 minutes or so after the end of Casino Royale.  Bond has captured Mr. White (that guy whose kneecaps he shot out) and has hauled him in for questioning.  In the interrogation, Mr. White starts laughing as he begins to realize how little these intelligence organizations know about his shadowy organization.  And if to prove this point, M's own bodyguard is revealed to be a member of this organization as he tries to kill M and make an escape.  Bond pursues M's would-be assassin, but Bond winds up killing him, thus they'll get no information out of him.  Bond returns to find that this was all a distraction to facilitate the escape of Mr. White.  Of course, M wants to know if Bond killed their only lead out of vengeance for Vesper, but Bond denies this. 

An investigation into M's bodyguard turns up a lead in Haiti, so Bond heads off to Port Au Prince.  Bond encounters M's bodyguard's contact, and again a shootout ensues, and again Bond kills him.  Needless to say, M is growing frustrated at how Bond keeps killing their leads.  Bond assumes the identity of this contact, and this brings him into contact with a woman named Camille.  Turns out, though, the person whose identity Bond has assumed is supposed to kill Camile.  Bond doesn't know this, and lets her go, and she leads Bond to her boyfriend, a fellow by the name of Dominic Greene.  Greene is meeting with a Bolivian general that Camille has a deep interest in.  Bond is able to rescue Camille from the Bolivian general, and calls his bosses back in London to investigate Dominic Greene.  Greene is a philanthropist, and his company Greene Planet is buying up huge tracts of land for nature preserves.  Their info says Greene is going to Austria, so Bond heads off in pursuit.

At an opera in Austria, Bond notices that Greene and several others are getting special gift bags.  Bond swipes one and sees it contains an earwig.  Bond puts it in, and it turns out the majority of the shadowy organization -- we learn it's named Quantum -- is in the audience.  They're having their board meeting.  Greene convinces them that their Bolivian operation should be top priority.  When Bond's heard enough, he makes his presence known.  And when Quantum's membership gets up to leave, Bond is able to snap all their pictures on his spycam and send it back to London for identification.  Bond tangles with some Quantum henchmen...and one turns out to be the bodyguard of a British diplomat.  Bond is ordered to come home, but Bond refuses.  So Bond's funding is cut off and his passport is invalidated.

With no way to get to Bolivia now, Bond turns to his friend Mathis from Casino Royale.  In Casino Royale, we were led to believe that Bond was betrayed by both Vesper AND Mathis, but it turns out Mathis was set up to be the patsy.  He's now in retirement in Italy.  Bond gets Mathis to forge him some new passports and accompany him to Bolivia.  Mathis tries to convince Bond that Vesper's betrayal of Bond was simply to save him, but Bond is still angry.

Arriving in Bolivia, Bond and Mathis are met by a Ms. Fields, a clerk from the British consulate.  Her orders are to escort Bond back to London, but Bond being Bond, he seduces her, and now she's working with them.  They crash one of Greene's parties, where he's now bought up several hundred acres of the Bolivian desert, again for a nature preserve.  Camile also shows up again, and starts hinting that there's some kind of sinister agenda behind Greene's philanthropy.  Of course, this captures Bond's interest, and he and Camile leave the party.  They're stopped by the Bolivian police, who find Mathis's body in the trunk.  Bond fights off the police officers, and with his dying words, Mathis encourages Bond to forgive Vesper. 

Bond and Camile get a plane to investigate the desert that Greene has bought.  In their journey, Camile reveals that Greene is working with that Bolivian general to help the general in his coup.  Camile is out for vengeance because that general killed her parents.  As they conduct their aerial investigation, they're shot down, they parachute through a sinkhole, and find themselves underground.  As they search for a way out, they find that Greene has been working underground (literally), damming underground rivers and constructing underground reservoirs.  Everyone assumed Greene was after Bolivia's oil...but he's after the water.  They get out of the caves and make their way back to the city.

And they find M waiting for them.  Turns out this Bolivian general has promised the west Bolivia's oil, so the British government has decided to sit this one out and let the coup happen.  Naturally, Bond is horrified, as he can't believe they're going to get into bed with terrorists like this, but M says her hands are tied.  To hammer home that Greene is showing that they should stay out of this, Bond finds Ms. Field's body, covered head to toe in oil.  Bond tries to convince M that the oil is just a smokescreen, but M says nope, sorry, this is done.  So Bond promptly escapes and goes rouge.

Needing information and help, Bond reaches out to his old friend from the Casino Royale, CIA agent Felix Leiter.  Felix actually had his own little subplot going, where we see Felix working with his equivalent of M.  Turns out Felix's boss has been quite a willing partner in all this, and Felix is sickened by it all.  Felix warns Bond that the CIA is coming for him, and tells Bond that the final hand-off between Greene and the Bolivian general will be taking place at a hotel in the middle of the desert.

So it's time for our classic Bond finale of the heroes storming the villain's stronghold.  But this time out, it's just Bond and Camile.  Before the storming happens, though, we see the final meeting between Greene and the Bolivian general, and we finally see what the whole plot is.  Since all the water is now dammed up under land that Greene owns, Greene now controls the majority of Bolivia's water supply.  If the general wants to stay in power, and provide water to his people, he's going to have to pay Quantum ridiculous amounts of money.  But, before the deal can happen, Bond and Camile storm the place.  Camile takes out the Bolivian general, avenging her family's death, and Bond, rather than kill Greene, is able to capture him.

Out in the middle of the desert, Bond kicks out Greene.  On the trip out there, Bond was able to get all the information he needed on Quantum.  Bond figures he doesn't have to kill Greene, as Quantum will do that soon enough, and just leaves Greene in the middle of the desert to die.  Bond reconnects with Camile, and encourages her to help undo Greene's damage and get the water back to the people.

End of the movie?  Nope.  One last loose end to tie up.  With the information he got from Greene, Bond goes after the one man most directly responsible for Vesper's death...Vesper's boyfriend.  Turns out he was never kidnapped by Quantum.  He's a Quantum agent, and his whole schtick is to seduce women with access to sensitive information and then blackmail it out of them.  Bond catches him working his charms on a comely young CSIS clerk.  Rather than kill the guy, Bond allows M to take him into custody, and interrogate him for more info on Quantum.  With him in custody, Bond walks away alone into the snow, finally able to forgive Vesper for betraying him...and able to forgive himself for not being able to save her. 

And that's Quantum of Solace.  It tries hard.  It's a noble effort, as they tried to create a continuing James Bond story, but it winds up coming across as a little bit muddled.  There's not as much "Wow," and character stuff as in Casino Royale.  In the fight scenes, there's far too much shaky-cam, making the fight scenes tough to follow.  It's just kind of...meh.  It won't go down as one of the best Bonds, but it makes a noble effort.

And that's it!  All the Bond in my collection.  I'm kind of at a loss as to what to watch now.

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