Following the success of 2006’s Casino Royale, expectations for Quantum of Solace, the 22nd instalment in the James Bond saga, could not have been higher. Topping the previous effort was always destined to be a daunting task and, sadly, Quantum falls short of the mark.
Though the movie’s narrative follows on directly from its predecessor’s, with only an hour separating the two, its production is markedly different. The movie is of a dangerously fast pace, its highly charged action sequences comprising the majority of its content. Consequently, the dialogue and quick wit at the centre of so many Bond films is lacking altogether.
Audiences are thrown into the deep-end from the off, and are left struggling to keep their heads above water as the spurious action unfolds. Following Bond’s loss of Vesper, his lover from the last film, he is out for revenge, and appears to have gone off the rails. In spite of his apparent mentalism, Bond remains loyal to Her Majesty’s Secret Service, though M (Judi Dench) is not convinced. No longer the rookie agent, but rather a tired institution fuelled by grief alone, 2008’s Bond is replete with a newfound dimension of brutality and ruthlessness, exemplified rather gruesomely by our hero waiting for the pulse of an unfortunate adversary to cease, before moving on.
Quantum of Solace is not just about good guys defeating bad guy commies, it’s about Bond fighting his demons and finding peace of mind. This is just as well, as it could be argued that the film features no conventional wrongdoers. The main villain, Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric) is – oh the horror – a corrupt diplomat. If you’re looking for crazy terrorists with dreams of world domination, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. Try the vintage Bond years.
The introduction of Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) as director is not a natural first-choice for a Bond movie, and he interprets action sequences in a manner more befitting a Jason Bourne outing, or rather a blatant copy of one.
Of course, Bond girls are a prerequisite for any addition to the franchise and, in this instance, prove far from memorable. Olga Kurylenko plays the tortured soul, Camille, desperately trying to find solace after a terrifying childhood experience.
Independent and vulnerable, she is determined to fight her demons with or without Bond’s help. Still, the character’s back-story is underdeveloped and her chemistry with Daniel Craig is non-existent. This failure could have been avoided, had Foster plumbed for the most able candidate for the role, rather than that which he found the most boner-inspiring.
Craig’s physicality has put a new spin on Bond, who now seems more inclined to value brute force over charm and wit, detracting from its appealing humanity. The notion of transforming the character into a darker and more physical character is of no harm in itself, yet it seems that in the writers’ excitement to reinvent the franchise they’ve lost sight of what a Bond film really means to most people.