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DVD Review: Quantum of Solace

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Bond, James Bond. That simple line conjures up images of sexy women, elite card games, and a man in a tux. James Bond is a man of class, a man of elegance, a man with a rich taste, and yet a man who can kill you with the blink of his eye. Bond has been able to save the world over 20 times, and yet he still always gets the girl. Bond is known as the man that always gets away from the bad guys, but, you can now truly capture him. Yes, you can take James Bond home with you, if you get Quantum of Solace on DVD, that is.

Quantum of Solace is the second Bond movie of the new canon. Instead of relying on separate episodes that were unique, as all of the old films did, the new James Bond movies comprise an actual story arc. Starting with Casino Royale and moving into Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig plays a new version of Bond, one that is dark and mysterious. This is a new take on the series, and an interesting one at that.

Quantum of Solace starts exactly where Casino Royale left off, which marks the first time in the Bond series that one movie led into another (they are usually not even referenced). James is still on his quest for vengeance, and still circling around the world, trying to figure out exactly what Quantum is. Through a series of betrayals, car chases, roof chases, and many hand fights, a picture of the organization emerges. However, at the very end, we are left knowing only slightly more then we did when we started.

Quantum of Solace continues in the vein of taking the normal Bond stalwarts and using them in a new way. There are still Bond girls, but they are no longer necessarily the object of James’s desire. James is still elite and proper, but he has been updated for the new millennium (most notably by playing Texas hold ‘em instead of baccarat in Casino Royale). M is still there, but is a woman, and definitely a balance to the sexism that Bond has traditionally portrayed. The gadgets are still there, though they are laid back and there is no more Q. Yes, Quantum of Solace is still Bond, but it seems to be a different one.

I really do like this modernistic revitalization of the Bond franchise. While the filmmakers still keep to the elements that have served them well in the past — technology, car chases, shooting, Bond outsmarting everybody, girls — the new stories provide a more compelling character study to entertain the modern Jason Bourne-ified audiences. We expect wit, intelligence, and vengeance from today’s heroes, and the new Bond delivers it. By having Craig create a new Bond from scratch, we are able to see the evolution of a character, and that is highly important for the survival of this franchise.

One of my favorite things about Quantum of Solace is the interplay between M (Judi Dench) and Bond. Both Dench and Craig are great actors, and their emotional roles are played exceptionally well. M clearly cares about Bond, and she also cares about her organization. She gets placed in a situation where she must defend MI6 as it is losing prestige at the cost of having Bond taken in and probably killed. This internal struggle is portrayed expertly by Dench, and is truly understandable. To make it even harder, the two have a mother-son relationship, and so M must truly make sacrifices. Both Craig and Dench are able to pull this acting off seamlessly, and so the emotional drama seems real.

I also really like the new vengeful Bond. Though many of my friends like the old chauvinistic Bond (though they would hate those characteristics in any real human), most don’t like the new take on him. I, on the other hand, like the new Bond, as he shows us why he is what he is later in life. Instead of a person who should have AIDS by now, the Craig version of Bond keeps his class and womanizing while being respectful and proper. He also is in love with a woman, and that is the first time we have seen this since On Her Majesty's Secret Service, when George Lazenby's Bond got married. To me, this new emotional depth to Bond really adds to the story, and helps the franchise out dramatically.

One thing that noticeable in the new Bond franchise is the lack of Q. While there were gadgets in Quantum of Solace, there was no Q, and that was severely disappointing. I love the wit, sarcasm, and general attitude that was always portrayed by the character of Q. The man who gave Bond his gadgets was a great character, and it was always interesting to see what cool new technologies they came up with this time. I am hoping that in the next rendition, they decide to add Q and some of his goodies back into the series; he is sorely missed.

As for the actual DVD, the video and audio qualities were about as good as you can get short of getting Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray. The colors were vibrant, the black levels deep, and the action sequences exhibited very little ghosting or pixelation. The overall transfer is quite stunning. As for the audio, the DTS 5.1 surround sound is exceptionally impressive. Using all of the channels, the sound literally immerses you into the movie, as you hear cars speed by you and bullets hit the floor at your feet. I was quite impressed with the sound, and it helps the movie out greatly.

Though there are several extras on the Quantum of Solace DVD, the only good one is "Bond on Location." This 30-minute clip is basically a mini-documentary about all of the locations that the crew went to to film this movie. Ranging from the deserts of Peru, to small towns in Italy, the crew went all over the world for Quantum of Solace. I really liked how they explain the history and idiosyncrasies of each locale and show exactly how they were used in the movie. Though this is not essential to the experience, I really believe that "Bond on Location" helped to add to the Quantum of Solace feel.

Quantum of Solace is a good addition to any Bond collection. The movie is well done, engrossing, and an interesting character study. Additionally, the video and audio qualities of the DVD are stunning. I believe that Quantum of Solace is a perfect gift for any Bond lover or spy-flick aficionado.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.

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About Robert M. Barga