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Quantum of Solace
Album Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Nicholas Dodd

Title Song Performed by:
Jack White
Alicia Keys
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J records
(October 28th, 2008)
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Regular U.S. release.
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Decorative Nonsense
(inverts site colors)

   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you've longed for a James Bond score that makes you think, for David Arnold's work for Quantum of Solace appropriately compromises glory for intrigue.

Avoid it... if the trashy hip-hop title song is simply too obnoxious for your tolerance, ruining the largely unrelated score's attempt to compensate with independently intelligent, though slightly understated ideas.
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WRITTEN 11/22/08
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Quantum of Solace: (David Arnold) Despite concerns over the restart of the franchise with 2006's Casino Royale, the debut performance of Daniel Craig in the role of 007, as well as most of the other elements of the production, was a grand success. The second entry in the Craig era of the franchise is a rare direct sequel, carrying over more characters and linear concepts than any pair of Bond films before and beginning its story immediately after the events of the previous film. The British agent, still blinded by the vengeance that drives him after the dramatic death of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, methodically pursues another resident badguy (Dominic Greene) of the SPECTRE-like crime organization that, while killing Vesper, barely made the extent of its existence known in that plot. The purpose of Quantum of Solace is not to provide Bond the entirety of the solace he seeks for Vesper's demise (though some of that is obtained), but to begin fleshing out the Quantum organization itself, obviously setting the stage for future development in subsequent films. Although containing all the prerequisite chases, interference from MI6 and the British government in Bond's semi-personal business, new Ford vehicles as per studio contract, and the usual collection of women available to him, Quantum of Solace is largely an introverted story of revenge, containing significant, lengthy scenes of contemplation and conversation. This different equation presented a new challenge for composer David Arnold, for whom Quantum of Solace is his fifth consecutive Bond score. Arnold has confessed that he approached the music for this score with the intent of creating far less density in the majority of cues and instead opting for thematic integration on an subtle scale not heard before in any of the previous 21 Bond ventures. Rather than belt out a couple of prominent new themes to coincide with Monty Norman's classic tune, he takes two themes from the previous film and integrates them with four distinct and new major ideas for Quantum of Solace. Because the second half of the film is set solely in Bolivia, Arnold also takes the opportunity to expand the scope of his orchestral ensemble by adding a touch of organic, cultural flavor, a relative rarity in the franchise.

The balance of these elements, the orchestra, and Arnold's standard electronics, is once again an important factor. All of the composer's Bond scores to date have yielded fan responses based largely on the mixing of the orchestra and electronics, with the former the dominant force in Tomorrow Never Dies and the latter taking the helm in Die Another Day. Arnold found the right balance in Casino Royale, a score that paired roaring action sequences and soaring romance while utilizing just enough of the drum pads and synthetic rhythms to satisfy 007's existence in a more technologically vivid era. It could be argued that the music for Quantum of Solace suffers from something of a hangover due to the strength of Casino Royale and the necessary continuation of material. While the film litters its six major action sequences well enough to consistently exhilarate audiences in the theatres (despite frantic editing that has been faulted by many critics), the score alone exposes the fact that Quantum of Solace has far more melodrama than gunfire, especially when considering that the action cues are relatively short when taking into account their inclusion of material from before and after the actual chases. The most intriguing such sequence in the film, involving the meeting of Quantum members at the opera, contains source material and therefore no extension of Arnold's action statements of the Quantum theme. So when you step back and look at the music for Quantum of Solace, what you discover is a score that interests you because of its character development rather than its raw, propulsive energy, and that definitely makes for a rare day in the Bond franchise. Film score collectors will find merits in Arnold's smart subtleties, though there will certainly be listeners who prefer the more traditional, Bond-like musical elements that Arnold always integrated into his previous scores for the series. Such nods still exist, of course. There are the necessary wailing horns, tapping cymbals, and plucked electric guitars, but their quantity is notably restricted. The famous Bond theme itself, though now earned by Craig's 007, is only sparsely incorporated, hinted in its full form only twice before the gunbarrel sequence at the end of the film. Still, Arnold keenly uses its fragments in enough circumstances to suffice for franchise purposes.

Another measure of success for any Bond film is its title song and its melodic influences on the score. Arnold has always preferred to have a hand in the writing of the songs for these films, as it obviously allows him to better integrate the identity of those songs within his scores. Easily the least satisfying of his Bond scores to date is Die Another Day, for which Madonna provided a song without any assistance from Arnold, and the result was not only the most laughable song in the history of the franchise, but a score that had no central identity to base on that performance. While Tomorrow Never Dies technically belongs to the same group (though the vast superiority of Arnold and k.d. lang's song over the end credits was a redemption of sorts), Quantum of Solace joins Die Another Day as featuring a song without Arnold's contribution. Unlike the Madonna situation, however, Arnold has actually stated that he enjoyed the writing of Jack White for "Another Way to Die" and thought its hard, hip-hop edge was a good direction in which to take this film. Fans were less forgiving of "Another Way to Die," however, with the performances by White and Alicia Keys drawing scorn and criticism for its obvious mismatch with the historical rock ballad format of the opening titles. It probably didn't help that the title sequence's visuals, complete with a dorky font and poorly edited abstract photography (by comparison to its peers), didn't help to distract anybody from the wretched music. The problem with "Another Way to Die," as discussed in length by the majority of film score critics, is that it defies the most primary rule (and really the only important one) of the history of Bond songs: the need for a memorable melody. Other than the simplistic belting of the minor third shifts in the bass, the repeating piano strikes, and a few other motifs within the song's instrumental backing, there exists nothing of significance for Arnold to adapt into his score. The actual vocal performances, by their nature, are largely devoid of distinct progression, making the song all style and no substance. For Arnold and some fans, this use of attitude over process fits the film well. But it also serves the score very poorly and, not to be overlooked, the quality of the song itself, even in its own genre, is suspect.

So the song for Quantum of Solace ultimately has to be chalked up as a loss, a major disappointment to many loyal Bond fans. For some, no quantity of ridicule can appropriately be applied to White and Keys' contributions to a film that could have otherwise used a bitterly tragic ballad. It is unfortunate that Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" didn't make the Casino Royale album for licensing reasons while the obnoxious "Another Way to Die" disgraces the Quantum of Solace album with its presence (albeit at the end). While Arnold does pick and choose motifs from the song to integrate into his score, don't expect to hear any of the same harsh volume of defiant attitude or overbearing electric guitar rips in the bass to match. The composer does seem to give nods to the song in his more frequent use of minor third shifts in the bass region, as well as the more obvious use of the repeating piano strikes. But if you seek to match any of Arnold's new themes for Quantum of Solace with the barely distinguishable progressions of "Another Way to Die," you'll be frustrated. Complicating matters is the fact that Arnold's thematic material doesn't really reach out and grab you with obvious structure or flamboyant performances. Some of his material is so nebulous, in fact, that it would be difficult to nail down without knowing the explicit intent that Arnold had when framing the score. Thus, some of the attributions you are about to read are open to debate. Outside of the basic references to motifs in the song, there exist four new themes. The first is a revenge motif that some have claimed to be the primary identity of the score, heard in seven major cues. It's an ascending figure with a single descending note at the end, sometimes five notes in length, sometimes six. Its inherent sense of malice and determination is often coupled with the Quantum theme later in the film. That ominous theme for Quantum is professional and dwells usually in the lower registers of brass, working its way into at least nine cues. A theme for Camille, the Bolivian agent and Bond's partner, is performed mostly by pan pipes and, amongst its four major performances, those at the end of the film are most prominent (as the audience learns more about her).

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.23 Stars
***** 201 5 Stars
**** 258 4 Stars
*** 241 3 Stars
** 184 2 Stars
* 118 1 Stars
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(Comment Deleted by Poster)   Expand >>
Mitchell Kyler Martin - May 1, 2016, at 9:18 p.m.
2 comments  (706 views)
Newest: February 5, 2017, at 6:14 p.m. by
Fan - October 27, 2009, at 10:30 p.m.
1 comment  (1720 views)
Hated score to Quantum of Solace
Adam Lewis - December 6, 2008, at 1:45 a.m.
1 comment  (2558 views)
Not so,
Aaron B - December 2, 2008, at 3:12 p.m.
1 comment  (2108 views)
Excellent review!
Vladimir Sever - November 24, 2008, at 3:07 p.m.
1 comment  (1870 views)
Alternate review of Quantum of Solace at Movie Music UK   Expand >>
Jonathan Broxton - November 23, 2008, at 9:41 p.m.
2 comments  (2984 views)
Newest: December 16, 2008, at 1:32 p.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 61:12
• 1. Time to Get Out (3:28)
• 2. The Palio (4:59)
• 3. Inside Man (0:38)
• 4. Bond in Haiti (0:35)
• 5. Somebody Wants to Kill You (2:17)
• 6. Greene and Camille (2:13)
• 7. Pursuit at Port Au Prince (5:58)
• 8. No Interest in Dominic Greene (2:44)
• 9. Night at the Opera (3:02)
• 10. Restrict Bond's Movements (1:31)
• 11. Talamone (0:34)
• 12. What's Keeping You Awake (1:40)
• 13. Bolivian Taxi Ride (0:49)
• 14. Field Trip (0:41)
• 15. Forgive Yourself (2:26)
• 16. DC3 (1:15)
• 17. Target Terminated (3:53)
• 18. Camille's Story (3:58)
• 19. Oil Fields (2:29)
• 20. Have You Ever Killed Someone? (1:32)
• 21. Perla de las Dunas (8:07)
• 22. The Dead Don't Care About Vengeance (1:14)
• 23. I Never Left (0:40)
• 24. Another Way to Die - performed by Jack White and Alicia Keyes (4:23)

Notes Icon
The insert unfolds into a poster, but it includes no extra information about the score or film.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Quantum of Solace are Copyright © 2008, J records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/22/08 (and not updated significantly since).
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