'Quantum of Solace' – What The Critics Said (Part II)
The first press screening of Quantum of Solace was held on Friday, 17 October at the Odeon cinema in London with journalists from numerous media outlets attending.
Anticipation for Daniel Craig’s second James Bond adventure was at an all time high following the unstoppable success that Casino Royale sparked almost exactly two years ago, becoming the best reviewed 007 film of all time
CommanderBond.net has compiled together an exhaustive list of various media reviews of Quantum of Solace–the good and the bad.
Read on to see if the 22nd Bond film lives up to expectactions… [Click here for Part I of this article]
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID (PART II)
Quantum doesn’t disappoint–just don’t expect the brilliance of Casino Royale
Covered in oil, the thick black fluid dripping from her naked body, the latest girl to fall for James Bond lies dead on a hotel bed.
Sleeping with 007 has always been bad for a woman’s health. And MI6 Agent Fields is the latest Bond girl to meet with a sticky end in Quantum of Solace, in a scene that brilliantly evokes the death of Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger.
Two years after Casino Royale, Bond is back. Hundreds of fans queued around London’s Leicester Square for last night’s world premiere of the 22nd Bond movie.
And the spying theme wasn’t confined to the big screen–security stopped anyone from entering the Odeon with a mobile phone.
Even as Jack White and Alicia Keys’ theme tune, Another Way To Die, rolled, guards patrolled the aisles watching for illicit recordings.
If security was high, expectations were higher. Could Daniel Craig equal his last Bond outing? Nearly. He just falls short, but 007’s licence to thrill is still intact.
Quantum of Solace is a leaner, meaner animal, rammed with shoot-outs, a boat chase and even an aerial dogfight. And our hero is an angry, embittered man out for blood.
Craig’s ice-cool Bond is the guy to leave you shaken and stirred
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The chips are down following Daniel Craig’s radical reinvention of British superspy 007 in the back-to-basics Casino Royale. The question is: what do we do now?
Well, what they’ve done is provide the first direct Bond sequel, a taut, lean thriller which manages to shave a good half hour off the running time of the celebrated 2006 comeback.
Director Marc Forster, who made his name with Monster’s Ball and Findng Neverland, provides richer characterisation–we’re beginning to see what makes Bond tick so violently–and also manages to make implausible scenarios starkly realistic. Without a gadget in sight.
It helps that he’s got the team behind the last two Jason Bourne movies to provide the action–there’s double the destruction wrought in Casino Royale, kicking off with a sublime pre-credit car chase alongside Lake Garda with Bond’s Aston minus the driver’s door.
Seeking the faceless killer behind the death of Vesper Lynd, 007 discovers he can trust no-one–not even MI6 or the CIA–and is left to pursue a solitary trail from Italy to London to Haiti, where he first meets his nemesis Dominic Greene (Amalric).
Firmly dodging the villainous Bond stereotype, the devious Greene does not have a bleeding eye, pincers for hands or a third nipple. He’s French. And like the rapacious Gallic utility companies, he’s got his eye on everybody’s water supply.
Taking the fizz out of his Perrier is Camille (Kurylenko), an unlikely ally for Bond who intends to use her connection with Greene to get to exiled Bolivian General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), the man behind the brutal death of her family.
Latest Bond shakes and stirs, but where’s the old humour?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Among the main pleasures of an uneven Bond movie is Dench’s wonderful performance. She is more in evidence here than in her previous Bond movies and has a relationship with 007 that is maternal and flirtatious. Nothing flusters Dench’s M. In one tremendous scene, we see her running her bath and dabbing at her face with wipes as she gives orders to operatives around the world to curb Bond’s movements.
Gemma Arterton is also good value as Agent Fields at the British consulate in Bolivia, a siren with a touch of St Trinians about her, saying “oh gosh” when she sends one of Greene’s henchmen flying.
There is a tension at the heart of the movie. On the one hand, this is an out-and-out action flick. On the other, Forster (the director of arthouse hits such as Monster’s Ball and Stranger Than Fiction) is trying to show us the paranoia and loneliness of a homicidal spy’s life. The set-pieces are supposed to be exhilarating but also reveal Bond’s anger and bereavement. One of the film’s most ingenious scenes is when Bond interrupts the villains during a performance of Tosca at the Bregenz Festival House in Austria. While the performers are singing about love and vengeance on the stage, Bond is in the wings, fighting with Greene’s henchmen. Opera plots are often far-fetched and illogical. We shouldn’t be surprised that Bond movies are the same. At their best, they provide us with the same excitement and escapism.
Quantum of Solace doesn’t seem like a major entry in the Bond canon. Well under two hours long, it’s shorter and more frenetic than most of its predecessors, and an often-jolting experience to watch. Loose ends about. What it does have, though, above all, is vigour. The franchise hasn’t run out of juice quite yet.
This latest offering is not as groundbreaking as the 2006 prequel
Her Majesty’s secret service agent has turned from a loved-up puppy to a ruthless killing machine.
Nursing a broken heart, he is out to seek revenge for the death of his lover Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) with a licence to kill.
This is a fast and furious Bond–high on action and exotic location, but still mean and moody (he still does not care if his vodka martini is shaken or stirred).
For one thing he is too busy punching and kicking the living daylights out of everyone who crosses his path. One of the first scenes sees an angry Bond dripping with sweat in a car chase and sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
“You look like hell. When was the last time you slept?” asks M. There’s no response from Bond. Need I say more.
No-one can be trusted, and no-one and nothing is going to stop the new bullish and brutal Bond from exacting revenge.
A pacy, visually imaginative follow-up to the series relaunch
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Quantum Of Solace picks up moments after the credits rolled at the end of Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig’s bereaved and blooded Bond in Siena, wrecking his Aston Martin in a pre-credits car chase complicated by thick traffic, twisty mountain roads and emotional Italian drivers. In his car-boot, with a bullet in his leg, is Mr White (Jesper Christensen), a higher-up in the cartel (Quantum) which employed and then killed the baddie of the earlier film, and who Bond blames for the death of the girl he loved last time round. Mr White is taken to be grilled by M, just as the local horse race (the palio) is taking place (obviously, the filmmakers saw the documentary The Last Race too), only for the villain to sneer that MI6 and the CIA obviously know nothing about Quantum’s many well-placed agents, whereupon someone presumably trustworthy pulls a gun–and Bond is back in action, leaving wounded enemies and allies behind as he barges through crowds, runs up stairs, dangles from scaffolding and dodges swinging girders to get his man.
In an era marked by franchise bloat, it’s entirely admirable that Quantum of Solace is the shortest Bond movie to date–it drops a great many of the long-running series mannerisms (callous quips, expository lectures, travelogue padding, Q and Moneypenny) as it globe-trots urgently from Italy to Haiti to Austria to Italy again to Bolivia to Russia with stopovers in London and other interzones. The major gadget on offer is a neat trick with a mobile phone, which the film trusts us to follow without a pompous lecture on how it works, and there’s a nod to traditionally absurd Bond girl names in Gemma Arterton’s Agent Fields–she refuses to give her real, silly, embarrassing name which we only find out from the end credits (it’s not Gracie or London). Everything in this movie is edited as if it were an action sequence, which means that when the set-pieces come they have to go into overdrive to stay ahead of the game, with Bourne veteran Dan Bradley staging more brutal, devastatingly fast fights and chases. We get striking locations (including primaeval caves and a South American desert) and absolutely gorgeous, stylised art direction–but there’s little lingering on the backdrops, since a brief establishing shot is usually enough to set up the nimble, nifty, explosive action that takes place against them.
Previously, the Bond films have been a series, but this is an actual sequel–an approach Ian Fleming used in his books, but which was dropped from the movies because the novels were filmed out of order. This makes for a film which hits the ground running, but also means we get less to latch onto emotionally since Daniel Craig became the complete 007 over the course of Casino Royale, and here just has to be set loose. The sparks struck between the wounded hero and scarred heroine Camille–whose revenge-driven sub-plot owes a lot to July Havelock, the girl from the story For Your Eyes Only–don’t match those between Craig and Eva Green last time round because this Bond is human enough to start worrying about how regularly his girlfriends get killed. The slinky, sultry Olga Kurylenko is in fact so fixed on murdering her enemy that it’s possible she technically doesn’t even count as a Bond girl–she’s good, but doesn’t get the breakout showcase Green landed in Casino Royale. However, for the diehard romantics, Bond does tenderly hug a dying male friend before disposing of his corpse in a dumpster (‘he wouldn’t care’) and gives Camille handy tips on professionally assassinating the extremely unpleasant would-be dictator who slaughtered her family.
This polished follow-up ticks all the right boxes mayhem-wise. Shame the film as a whole is such a downer.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
“This man and I have unfinished business,” seethes James Bond through gritted teeth at the end of Quantum of Solace. The same might well be said for actor Daniel Craig, whose bold re-interpretation of Ian Fleming’s legendary spy in 2006’s Casino Royale left us all wondering where the series would go to next.
The answer, in Marc Forster’s stylish contribution to the long-running franchise, is all over the shop. 007’s pursuit of the mysterious organisation who turned the late Vesper Lynd into a traitor sees him travel from the sewers and rooftops of Sienna to an arid desert in Bolivia to the busy straits of the Panama Canal and an elegant opera house in Austria. What we wouldn’t give for his frequent flyer miles, even if they would entail using Virgin Atlantic–one of several promotional partners whose goods and services get an ostentatious name-check.
All this to-ing and fro-ing, however, does little to conceal the central weakness in this 22nd official Bond movie–a convoluted plot even a criminal mastermind would have trouble unravelling. Okay, we know that it has something to do with Dominic Greene (French actor Mathieu Amalric), a nefarious entrepreneur who plans to take control of South America’s dwindling water supply. What we’re not so sure about is why James should waste his time on such an unworthy adversary, or what it has to do with a still-baffling title no one even bothers explaining.
Keep your eyes on the CommanderBond.net main page for most up-to-date and complete coverage of Quantum of Solace.