SYNOPSIS: Following the death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond (Daniel Craig) makes his next mission personal. The hunt for those who blackmailed his lover leads him to ruthless businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a key player in the organization which coerced Vesper. Bond learns that Greene is plotting to gain total control of a vital natural resource, and he must navigate a minefield of danger and treachery to foil the plan.
I can’t believe the 007 movie Quantum of Solace is already 10 years old this month and I recently discovered this was another review that got lost last year so what better time to revisit than its 10th anniversary?
Quantum of Solace remains a terrible title for a movie; yes, I know there is a book by Ian Fleming called that (I own it) but it’s still a crap title. Anyway, this is regarded as Daniel Craig’s weakest Bond outing to date but I’ve always quite enjoyed it. There is wall to wall action which admittedly is sometimes let down by shaking cameras and quick cuts but there’s no denying it moves along at a breakneck pace and it’s incredibly stylish.
At the time I remember everyone saying it so desperately tries to feel like a Bourne film (rooftop chase in particular) and lacks the charm and sense of fun of the old-school Bonds which I do tend to agree with however, I still think the scene at the Opera feels like classic Bond.
I’ll be honest and say I’m not a big fan of the Craig movies; I enjoy them enough but they are so serious and lacking personality that even when they are on television I won’t sit and watch them (aside from maybe Casino Royale). You put Moonraker on however, and I’ll watch that all day because I love the sheer outrageousness of it. Craig himself is fine as 007 bringing a toughness and grittiness that we hadn’t seen since the underrated Dalton days but as he seems to hate playing the role so much I sometimes think it comes off that way on screen and he could do with lightening up. He certainly looks the part in the action scenes though and Craig is the most physical interpretation of the character to date. Although the below scene is rather short it’s one of the most brutal and vicious fights of any Bond film demonstrating the truly ruthless side of 007.
Olga Kurylenko is one of my favourite Bond girls mostly for how she looks but I liked her character Camille as well who was believable as a woman seeking revenge for her mother’s murder; she is never there just to be a sex object but actually has a purpose and is one of the few Bond girls 007 doesn’t sleep with. Then we have Gemma Arterton as the wonderfully named Strawberry Fields who ends up being painted with oil and killed which was a nice nod to Goldfinger. I also thought the speedboat chase was reminiscent of the chase in From Russia with Love (which is my favourite Bond movie, trivia fans).
One of my favourite additions to the new films is Geoffrey Wright as Felix Lighter; I wish he had been in Skyfall and SPECTRE as he was the coolest Felix to date.
Mathieu Amalric is rather forgettable as the villain Dominic Greene and is never particularly threatening; he’s just there and definitely one of the weaker villains of the series. His motives aren’t particularity interesting and the plot doesn’t have much to it; I thought License to Kill already covered Bond going on a revenge spree and did it better.
I think the biggest flaw with the movie is that there is almost too much action and it needed to slow down and let the story breathe; seeing as there wasn’t really all that much to it then it feels like they just threw in a few more action scenes to take up screen-time.
Everyone does the best with what they were given here and I think it’s just the problem that the script was incomplete when they started filming. Remember Daniel Craig’s candid interview with Time Out where they discussed the issues with Quantum?
On “Quantum”, we were fucked. We had the bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it. I say to myself, “Never again”, but who knows? There was me trying to rewrite scenes – and a writer I am not.
Me and the director [Marc Forster] were the ones allowed to do it. The rules were that you couldn’t employ anyone as a writer, but the actor and director could work on scenes together. We were stuffed. We got away with it, but only just. It was never meant to be as much of a sequel as it was, but it ended up being a sequel, starting where the last one finished.’
Quantum was the first genuine sequel in the series and that’s one of the elements I really enjoy about the Craig movies; it starts off literally 10 minutes after the end of Casino Royale feeling like a genuine continuation of the story which Skyfall and SPECTRE would conclude. It will be interesting to see what direction Bond 25 will take the story or if it will be a standalone feature.
This was the last 007 movie David Arnold scored and it’s one of his best; it sounds like classic Bond but has a more modern sound to it at the same time. The main theme song from Alicia Keyes and Jack White may well be the worst Bond theme of all time; it’s such a bland tuneless noise that I even skip the opening credits of the movie which I normally consider blasphemy with a Bond film.
One of the most important aspects of a 007 film are the vehicles and gadgets; the only interesting gadget I can remember in Quantum is the Sony Ericsson C902 which is a mobile phone that had a built in identification imager; according to Wikipedia it was capable of compiling a composite facial image of a potential suspect even when the person being photographed is looking to the side. This phone can also receive information immediately regarding the suspect as it is also tied into the MI6 data mainframe. Aside from that there weren’t any other memorable gadgets in this movie however, there are some snazzy vehicles including the Aston Martn DBS V12 and the Alfa Romeo 159 and 156’s used in the spectacular opening car chase but I also particularly enjoyed the dog fight between the aircraft which was a well executed and exciting action sequence.
No James Bond movie would be complete without exotic locations and Quantum of Solace doesn’t disappoint in that department. It’s filmed in Italy, Chile, Madrid, Mexico and Austria as well as Pinewood studios (obviously).
The finale in the hotel as it explodes has Bond facing off against Greene in a brutal showdown but Camille also gets to have a one on one fight against the military general who killed her mother. There feels like genuine rage and desperation to both of the fights where it’s one of the few points in the movie where you are emotionally involved in the action. It’s never short on spectacle though with plenty of practically executed explosions which remain impressive to watch.
So 10 years later Quantum of Solace is still a very flawed film but I do enjoy some of the set-pieces in it and Olga Kurylenko isn’t hard to look at; it’s let down by a weak script and a dull villain but it’s arguably the most intense Bond to date and worthy of a reevaluation.