Should I Watch..? Quantum Of Solace
What's the big deal?
Quantum Of Solace is an action spy thriller film released in 2008 and is the twenty-second entry in the James Bond series. Daniel Craig returns for his second film as 007 and sees him investigating the criminal organisation known as Quantum as well as pursuing revenge for the unfortunate events at the end of Casino Royale. It is the first actual sequel in the Bond series, following directly from the end of the previous film - all other Bond films are individual stories. The title comes from a short story in Ian Fleming's For Your Eyes Only and is defined as the level of compassion you have with another in a relationship - where the quantum is zero, humanity and consideration for others is gone. The film received mixed reviews upon release but would go on to become hugely successful at the box office.
What's it about?
Immediately thrown into action after kidnapping the mysterious Mr White, Bond and M lead an interrogation of Mr White as to the nature of his organisation: Quantum. But a double agent intervenes and allows White to escape although Bond is able to kill the double agent. He quickly discovers a link to a hitman employed by wealthy businessman Dominic Greene to kill his lover, Camille Montes as well as an exchange between Greene and an exiled Bolivian general, Medrano.
Driven by rage after suffering at the hands of Quantum, Bond blindly pursues Greene to Bolivia along with Camille, who is trying to avenge the death of her parents at the hands of Medrano. Despite being warned off Greene by the CIA's Felix Leiter, Bond and Camille locate Greene at a secret hotel in the Atacamu Desert where Greene's true plan reveals itself...
Elvis, a henchman
Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Release Date (UK)
31st October, 2008
What's to like?
I love the fact that Quantum Of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale - not because the first film was so good but that it gave the series a much-needed reality boost. Bond was finally coming into his own as a character instead of a cliché and much of that is due to the performance of Craig. Remember all the stick, mocking and criticism he got before his first film was released? They all look stupid now as he cements his mark on the role and continues to drag Bond screaming and kicking back to the character Fleming wrote about all those years ago.
The film's action is near-constant, kicking off with a blistering chase in Bond's Aston Martin and rarely letting up until the end. And for those who thought that Bond was forgetting his cinematic roots, there are little touches here and there to remind you that it ain't necessarily so. The set design of the hotel in Bolivia owes more than a nod to the iconic sets of Ken Adam from the days of You Only Live Twice and Moonraker and look spectacular, if a little awkward amid the ultra-modern film they find themselves in. The film is well shot and contains much of the old gloss that shone through the earlier movies although the film itself is much grittier - the plot is a lot darker to what we're used to and Bond himself is seriously flawed as a character. Makes things interesting, I suppose.
- This is the first Bond film where we see 007 drunk. The scene at the bar on the plane shows he is clearly inebriated and it is mentioned that he has drank six Vesper Martinis.
- Craig was injured three times during the making of the film. An injury to the face required stitches, his shoulder needed six surgical screws inserted in an operation and then he sliced the tip of one finger off!
- Amalric used two unusual influences for his character of Dominic Greene - then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
What's not to like?
The script is somewhat muddled and difficult to follow in between the numerous action scenes. And I never thought I'd say this about a Bond film but there are too many action scenes - the film is a long, grim list of violent episodes one after another which is exciting but not exactly helpful when it comes to explaining the plot. Take Camille's character, for example: when she's introduced, there is an element of mystery about her. Who is she, secret service or civilian, and how is she tied up in all of this? But Quantum Of Solace never stops to let us know - she's there and that's all there is to it. A shame because Kurylenko actually performs well as this most atypical of Bond girls. Well, compared to Arterton who is a shameless throwback to the likes of Pussy Galore and Plenty O'Toole...
There are other issues as well. The theme tune is utterly forgettable besides Jack White's opening riff and Amalric is a hideously weak baddie. Compared to Craig who looks like he could happily tear your head off and laugh while he's at it, Amalric looks like a feeble and insignificant worm. Even his henchman is forgettable -in fact, I'm struggling to remember much about the film at all. Bond films shouldn't do this - they are supposed to entertain and leave us wanting more than happy memories of volcano lairs and metal-mouthed assassins. Quantum Of Solace would struggle to leave ripples in a pond - it plays and shows us its violent, bloody tale and then stops remarkably quickly with nothing to show for it.
Should I watch it?
You might have a good time while it's on but Quantum Of Solace is a real let-down after the amazing Casino Royale. The action scenes are well shot and moderately exciting but nothing about the film leaps out at you besides the stupidest name seen on a Bond film since Octopussy. Craig, however, continues to do well as Bond but it's a pity it couldn't have been in a better movie.
Great For: action fans, proving Daniel Craig-haters wrong
Not So Great For: traditional Bond fans, Bolivians, your memory
What else should I watch?
It's no surprise that two of Daniel Craig's other efforts - Casino Royale and Skyfall - are held in high regard after this disappointment. Both offer the ideal blend of story, action, character and excitement instead of this gritty exercise in anonymous bad-guy bashing. By contrast, Spectre feels like a throwback to past glories but lacks the contemporary punch these two films in particular possess. If you wanted another film that didn't feature Bond in it then I suggest The Bourne Identity because it acts as a stylistic forerunner to Craig's era as 007 and is very, very good.
Those of you still mourning for the loss of the old regime still have plenty of films to choose from. Goldfinger remains my favourite Bond of all time but how about From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me or even GoldenEye? But for me personally, I believe that Craig is the best Bond we've seen so far and we'll have to wait and see if his other films match up to his promise.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox