Quantum of Solace – the 22nd James Bond movie – has been met by both massive box-office success and critical disappointment. Despite the biggest opening ever for a 007 flick, there is almost universal negativity among critics, who say that the film doesn’t live up to the previous Bond outing, Casino Royale.
In fact, Quantum kicks off an hour after the events of its predecessor, making it the first Bond film to be a sequel. The filmmakers have continued the story arc which involves the superspy coming to grips with the death of his girlfriend Vesper Lynd. This is intertwined with a convoluted plot about Bond trying to stop a mysterious organisation, called Quantum, from controlling the world’s resources.
Along the way he meets a new Bond girl, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), is hunted by British intelligence and the CIA, beds a naive British operative (Gemma Arterton) and must survive high speed car and boat chases, plane crashes and exploding hotels.
The story is complicated – one might even say it’s something of a mess. It’s hard to follow and doesn’t always make sense. We’re never quite sure if Bond’s actions are motivated by his need for revenge or for genuinely professional reasons. Once you give up trying to understand the plot’s complexities and just let yourself be taken along for the ride, you’ll have a much better experience.
The pace is pretty relentless with the new Bond once again influenced by the frenetic style of The Bourne Identity films. A particular set piece involving an action scene in the midst of an opera is a marvel of editing, pace and style.
But this remains no ordinary spy thriller – this is James Bond. And thankfully director Marc Forster ensures that enough iconic 007 elements survive to make Quantum stand out.
The film’s biggest strength remains Daniel Craig who once again is superb as James Bond. He is entirely believable as a sexy, cold-blooded and efficient killer – yet he retains a spark of humanity.
This is a brooding Bond; not quite as smooth or cocky as before. Two particular scenes, interestingly both involving a man (Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis), are almost downright touching as Bond grapples with the death of those close to him.
There’s an aesthetic to the Bond films which I love – and it is one of the franchise’s strong points. The film is lush and gorgeous to look at thanks to fantastic cinematography, slick sets and sweeping locations across six countries. Despite international travel being ubiquitous these days, Quantum still manages to convey the exotic romance of foreign locales in true Bond style.
Another iconic Bond element is the opening title sequence with its usually memorable theme – and here Quantum disappoints. The visuals are so-so and are hampered by one of the weakest Bond themes in decades; Another Way To Die – performed by Alicia Keys and Jack White.
Despite not quite living up to the brilliance of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is not the massive disappointment that many have made it out to be. It successfully continues the re-invention of James Bond and does so with style and thrills aplenty. In fact, I so enjoyed my ride with 007 that I’m intending to go back for seconds.