If James Bond were a television series, Quantum of Solace, the 22nd entry in the longest running film franchise, the opening would say “Previously On” as it’s a direct sequel to Casino Royale picking up immediately after James (Daniel Craig) finds Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) after the death of Vesper. As an entry in the franchise and the second in the Craig era of films, Quantum of Solace is the most personal of all the installments in James’s missions at least in his regard. And just because it’s personal, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a worthy successor to one of the best entries in the franchise to date.
It’s an action/spy thriller amalgamation that isn’t a new concept to the universe but doesn’t feature some of the familiar elements that fans are used to. Yes, there are the major ones like the opening sequence that leads into the original song (Jack White and Alicia Keys) that sets the tone for the rest of the film to follow but, the chase along a narrow road with all the traffic imaginable in Siena Italy serves no purpose to the rest of the film. All it does, besides play coy with the secret organization that has members everywhere around the globe when interrogating Mr. White, is mirror the on-foot chase that came in the previous film hoping to capture the magic of the parkour skilled bomb maker. This time its underground, through a series of claustrophobic tunnels, through an Italian horse race and on rooftops. All while knowing the fact that the henchman Bond Is chasing will eventually die by improvising.
Craigs’s Bond is a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules. Not that the character has been straight and narrow for 40 + decades. But regardless, he’s on a personal vendetta to find the people behind the Vesper’s deception. Bond isn’t the only one seeking revenge here, the Bond girl Camille (Olga Kurylenko) has her own vendetta – killing the man who killed her mother and sister and burned their home down. Camille is an unlikely Bond girl, she’s not helpless, she’s among the most capable but doesn’t have the appeal of previous Bond girls.
As Bond, Craig is arguably the best actor to step into the role. I firmly stand by the opinion that Connery and Craig are 1A and 1B – the slight edge could change daily, depending on the mood or which film is being watched or debated. Craig has the muscles, the ferocity, the charm, and charisma necessary to pull off a believable Bond and the best aspect of his version is his rage. His rage paired with the egotistical arrogance is also Bond’s downfall.
A Bond film is only as good as it’s villain. We know there’s a secret organization that no one has heard of before (those who have seen more than one era of Bond can guess its SPECTRE) but who is pulling the strings? Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and his henchman Elvis (Anatole Taubman) pose no real threat to the skillful Bond but serve as a steppingstone to the next person up in the food chain. Greene, as a villain ranks among the worst the series has put out – simply put, he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Over the past 4 decades since the early days of Bond, the franchise is notorious for its well-crafted signature action sequences. Though the opening sequence is a series of quick cuts between oncoming traffic, semi-trucks, Bond and the assailants firing at will that can’t hit water with a pebble, Quantum of Solace follows in the previous films realistic action. Quantum has several action sequences that some are just there to distract from a lackluster plot.
A plot that doesn’t do much to push the overall story forward, it’s just a moment in time seeing one man pretend that he wasn’t in love by calling her a Bitch over and over. If she didn’t mean anything to him, why care this much? Too much aggression and a license to kill first and ask questions second. Bond is just a Pitbull off his leash that M (Judi Dench) can’t control if she tried. I wouldn’t cross her version of M, she’s more ruthless than ever with eyes and ears everywhere.
For a second consecutive installment, no sign of Moneypenny or Q, just some yes men that may or may not be afraid of M whenever she says anything.
Quantum of Solace isn’t the worst Bond film nor is it the best. But it also didn’t live up to the expectation of Casino Royale’s success. It’s middle tier Bond which is a category majority of the franchise falls into. While Craig is a hell of a Bond, the film is a disappointment with shining spots – director Marc Forster pays homage to Goldfinger when Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) is found dead and covered in oil.
Not to worry, there is no chance the franchise would stop here, there have been far worse installments and producer Albert Broccoli kept the wheels turning.
Written By: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Directed By: Marc Forster
Music By: David Arnold
Cinematography: Roberto Schaefer
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench
Release Date: October 31, 2008
Running Time: 1 Hour 46 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%
My Score: 2.5 out of 5
Based On: For Your Eyes Only (Title) by Ian Fleming