Movie Review: ‘Quantum of Solace’ (50 Years of Bond)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Gemma Arterton, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffery Wright, Dame Judi Dench
Story: Following the death of Vesper Lynd agent 007 confronts and abducts Mr. White, his only lead. He discovers that White is one small part of a highly secretive criminal empire who have infiltrated many levels of government and military. Bond targets Greene, who is publicly an environmentalist who is making a move to control Bolivia’s water supply.
Review: Casino Royale did more than reinvigorate a stale franchise – it sparked a new level of interest in the series as a whole. Suddenly kids in school were playing cashless rounds of Texas Hold-’em between classes and everyone was talking about how awesome Daniel Craig was as Bond. Another film was inevitable. Not only is a new James Bond films as expected as the sun coming up in the morning but people were clamoring for more. So Quantum of Solace was put in the works, and after people got over the oddity of a title they went in with expectations buoyed by the previous film and the similar marketing campaign. Immediate feedback, however, was not stellar.
Unusually for the series Quantum was a direct sequel, picking up the story mere moments after the Casino Royale finale and continuing the themes of character development that we’d already seen. This comes with two problems that weigh heavily on the film. The relationship with Vesper Lynd was a strong one, and an essential turning point for the character and while seeking revenge is all well and good the usual Bond tropes – such as banging every woman who stands still long enough – seems out of place. Secondly the character arc concerning the transformation of Bond into the cold-hearted 007 had a really solid conclusion at the end of Casino Royale so this new film winds up meandering about and covering the same ground. The story concerns uncovering the criminal organisation to which Mr. White belongs and whilst we’re teased about the extent of this empire we never see past the middle management level. Overall the plot of the film fails to engage and the stakes never seem all that high. A guy stealing water? Not exactly the world shattering threats Bond usually faces.
Never of the relationships that Bond develops with the new ‘Bond Girls’ seems convincing enough either. Camille Montes is an interesting character who very much has her own agenda throughout the film, but the scenes between her and Craig lack energy. MI6 agent Strawberry Fields has some good dialogue with Bond but winds up feeling disposable, there to make a point rather than function as a character. Dominic Greene is not the most interesting villain in the history of cinema but he is enough of a bastard that we want to see him lose.
The action scenes were most often criticised by viewers. The extremely rapid cutting and heavy mix of close-ups does make the action difficult to follow at times, not helped along by some creative decisions. Early in the film Bond’s car is chased by other cars of a similar appearance which, combined with heavy use of close-ups and a crowded street, make it difficult to decipher. The same happens again with the following rooftop chase involving two characters of a similar build both wearing black suits.
Although these are totally valid criticisms the film as a whole remains entertaining. It’s not close to being on a par with Casino Royale but it still stands above most action movies of the modern day. It’s a smart film that is lacking in a solid story, but is compensated by having one of cinema’s best characters at the fore. Some of the actions scenes are well executed and imaginative while the earlier ones are just mangled, but it’s still fun. It holds up better on a second viewing when the expectations have been adjusted.
Score: SEVEN outta TEN