Review: 'Quantum Of Solace' (2008) Dir. Marc Forster
Not since 1963s 'From Russia With Love' has James Bond followed in a direct sequel, but now after events in 'Casino Royale', Daniel Craig's 007 arc really takes off...
When James Bond (Craig) seeks vengeance for the death of Vesper Lynd under orders from Mr White (Jesper Christensen), the British spy is soon caught up battling a much larger and more intricate crime syndicate that are pulling the strings.
Travelling from Italy to London, Haiti to Austria and Bolivia to Russia, Agent 007 will come up against businessman Dominic Greene (Amalric) who works for the Quantum organisation with a plan to monopolize a natural resource.
With the help of the beautiful and strong-minded Camille (Kurylenko) and allies Mathis (Giannini), Felix Leiter (Wright) and M (Dench), Bond must uncover the truth behind Vesper’s betrayal, stop Greene and uncover just how dangerous Quantum really are…
Following on from the power-house of ‘Casino Royale’ in 2006, this rushed sequel was never going to live up to the standards set before. Despite a returning cast and a much-loved 007 in the lead, this was a production plagued by the 2008 Writers’ Strike and suffered a weak script and rushed re-shoots because of it.
But away from the production troubles that are evident with the final product, it’s not THE worst Bond film at all. Yes, the story is weak with no real sense of direction or threat – Amalric’s Dominic Greene lacks any dominant screen presence unlike Mads Mikkelsen before him, and also has a very weak ‘evil’ plan – and the visionary director Marc Forster seems to want to make his film a work of art with nauseating sharp, fast edits and enigmatic sound and visual cuts.
'Quantum Of Solace' continues to show Daniel Craig in a good light, and you can argue his portrayal as James Bond here is one of his best from his run.
He is more like a wrecking ball than ever before, motivated by revenge, but he seems far more human without dwelling in depression, like ‘Skyfall’, or reluctance for the job, as in ‘SPECTRE’. Here, he seems more comfortable in the role and plays Bond with a more sharp sense of humour (he smiles a lot more) but also shows him as an effective agent. If the film was better, it could have been his defining Bond film.
The action too can’t be slammed; we have action on land, sea and air like any good 007 film. It’s dangerous, loud and frantic all helped by a blistering score by David Arnold. Again, while the edits don’t help in letting us SEE what’s going on half the time, the atmosphere and 007-fuelled excitement is there.
With another good supporting cast with the likes of the alluring and ass-kicking Olga Kurylenko, the demure Gemma Arterton and fan-favourites Giancarlo Giannini and Judi Dench, Craig is in good hands for most part. But, on the flip-side, he doesn’t have too much to work with against the previously mentioned Mathieu Amalric who, despite having the slimy Bond villain sneer down to a tee, doesn’t evoke much danger and just comes across like a low-life businessman. Even Jeffrey Wright as Felix is shoe-horned in and doesn’t do much.
Location wise, it certainly delivers on that front. Bolivia and Austria are stand-outs for me, with the Perla de las Dunas hotel and Tosca floating opera performance benefiting from Forster’s artistic eye. We also have plenty of Bond-moments like the blistering pre-title sequence that is up there as one of the best, the hints of the 007 theme snaking through the action and the evolution of Craig “becoming” the super-spy we know and love.
At just over 100 minutes it’s the shortest James Bond film in the current 54 year history, but it’s not bad for it. No time is wasted, nothing is drawn out and no plot-points are bloated – it’s action from the off and we are globe-trotting within no time in the good company of Craig.
It’s just a shame the script is weak, the villain is weak and the overall desperation to tie things up with ‘Casino Royale’ is weak. This could have been a shining outing for Craig as it sort of feels more like the stand-alone Bond films of the past, if it wasn’t for events and characters being linked to things here to try and make something far bigger than it needed to be.
'Quantum Of Solace' deserves more appreciation and is actually an easy watching Bond film - brisk, to the point and with great action after expectations set sky-high by 'Casino Royale'.
'Quantum Of Solace' is an EON Productions production