'Quantum of Solace' – What The Critics Said (Part III)
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: Part I | Part II for the first two segments of this article]
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID (PART III)
Bond is back in this action-packed but emotionally unsatisfying sequel
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Occasionally brilliant, brutal and thrilling, yet ultimately a crushing disappointment; enter the Quantum of Solace.
The first out-and-out sequel to a Bond movie, QOS sees Daniel Craig’s much-lauded incarnation of the British secret agent return even more angry and ruthless than he was in franchise reboot Casino Royale.
Picking up literally minutes from the finale of that film, we open with Bond still in Italy, speeding away from police and enemy agents in his Aston Martin, with the sinister Mr White tied up in the boot. Bond discovers that White is part of the far-reaching organisation Quantum (“we have men everywhere!” he grins), that blackmailed his now-dead girlfriend Vesper in the previous film. Naturally, Bond decides to go after the group’s shadowy main man; creepy Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric).
On the surface, the reptilian Greene is a kind of eco-philanthropist, but secretly his organisation is involved in an evil plan to control Bolivia’s water supply, as well as more run-of-the-mill criminal activities such as destabilising governments and arming terrorists. Bond resolves to stop his nefarious scheme, and exact his own personal vengeance.
So, why a “crushing dissapoinment”? Allow us to explain. 007’s narrative arc in the movie–his raison d’etre–is revenge. He’s going after the guys that caused the girl he loved to die. And yet during the course of the film, you never get the sense that this is his motivation. As Bond jumps from one exotic locale to the next, killing henchmen, riding speedboats and jumping out of planes, the script barely gives us a sense of the hurt or pain that is driving him and his mission.
Classy, kinetic and supremely entertaining, this superlative sequel is well worth putting on a dinner jacket for
After his happiness was shattered by the events of Casino Royale, Bond is determined to seek a ‘quantum of solace’–the scant comfort offered by revenge. Hard on the heels of a shadowy
international organisation, he crosses paths with Camille (Olga Kurylenko) a mysterious young woman who has her own score to settle.
This time round, the role of Bond villain is relished by acclaimed French actor Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007), who portrays nefarious eco-philanthropist Dominic Greene with all the air of a psychotic Claude Rains. Grinning like a malevolent toad, Greene unfolds a scheme to seize hundreds of square miles of seemingly empty Bolivian desert and depose the country’s leaders–and Bond is the only one standing in his way.
True to form, Daniel Craig delivers another muscular performance which threatens to eclipse Sean Connery’s turn as Ian Fleming’s ruthless assassin; Judi Dench–who has become something of a Bond institution in her own right–reprises her role as M16’s vigilant spymistress. In the absence of a Moneypenny, M seems to have become Bond’s confidante as well as his keeper, and their relationship now exhibits a frisson that would have made even Fleming (and Freud) blush.
A good thriller but the whole package is underwhelming
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
When Casino Royale closed with a vengeful Daniel Craig looming over a man connected to the death of Bond’s girlfriend, it instantly became the greatest of 007 finales–a brilliant climax to a movie which reinvented the Bond franchise by subverting most of its sacred laws. But could the series keep it up?
It’s the precedent set by Casino Royale that gives Quantum of Solace its biggest problems. It can’t go back to the comforting style of the older films, but if it distances itself from them much further, it will stop being recognisably Bond at all. This results in an unsatisfying compromise; a thriller that feels embarrassed to be a Bond movie instead of revelling in glamour and action.
The plot has Bond (Craig) and M (Dench) uncovering the existence of a powerful criminal syndicate, responsible for the death of Bond’s lover Vesper (Eva Green). Bond is immediately off the leash, whacking anyone with even the faintest link to the group before he’s had a chance to question them. This is turned into a running joke and the pithy comments from M eventually undercut the grim intensity displayed in Craig’s kamikaze Bond.
Sure, the villain has a psychotic henchman, there are Bond girls and the showdown is at a hi-tech complex in a remote locale, but all these are treated with the sniffy reluctance one would expect from Brian Sewell judging a charity watercolour contest.
All-out thriller with few Bond touches but plenty of high-octane action
The meanest and leanest James Bond film yet, Quantum of Solace is a breathless splash of high-speed action that hurtles from one reckless chase to another.
There’s not much solace and few words as the British secret agent exercises his license to kill in dispatching one bad guy after another in the attempt to avenge the death of the lover who died in Casino Royale.
Fans of that boxoffice smash and the earlier films might be disappointed that the new picture allows hardly any flourishes of style and character in the 007 tradition, but moviegoers seeking an adrenaline rush will be well pleased. Running almost 40 minutes shorter than the bloated Casino Royale, the film should do bristling business around the world.
So much of the movie comprises furious pursuits in boats, planes and racing automobiles that director Marc Forster owes huge thanks to his talented technical crew. Second unit director Dan Bradley and stunt coordinator Gary Powell, both Bourne veterans, must take a large chunk of the credit for all the thrilling encounters that leave credibility in the dust.
Forster’s regular cinematographer Robert Schaefer and Oscar-winning production designer Dennis Gassner (Bugsy) contribute fine work and the intricate assembly by editors Matt Chesse and Richard Pearson is staggeringly effective. A gunfight cut against a lavish performance of “Tosca” is an action triumph.
Jack White’s title song passes without notice, but composer David Arnold provides a top-flight action score, keeping the familiar themes to a minimum as they hardly suit Daniel Craig’s Bond.
Quantum follows Casino Royale in reinstating the Bond supremacy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Casino Royale saw Bond rebooted–Bourne again, if you will. And at the outset of Quantum of Solace you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re watching 007 and not the absent-minded assassin: car chases, rooftop pursuits, hand-to-hand combat. Indeed, the hand of Dan Bradley, stunt supremo on the Bourne trilogy, is immediately apparent. If you can’t beat them, convince their expert on beating people up to join you.
Except that the car being thrashed in the thrilling opening isn’t a Lada; it’s a full-throated Aston Martin. The setting isn’t a drab Eastern Bloc city; it’s scenic Lake Garda. And as Bond (Daniel Craig, in his second outing) swells his MI6 expense account with another wreck before nonchalantly exiting, as unruffled as the lining of his Tom Ford suit, we’re reminded why nobody does it better. Just as Ian Fleming’s novels transported a rationed post-WWII public to a world of fine dining, international travel and sports cars, so today’s credit-crunched audience is whisked to Italy, Haiti, Austria, Bolivia and Russia, with Bond flying first class and gleefully blowing his cover in order to check himself into the best hotel in town. Who wants grey realism when you can have brilliant escapism?
The smart elegance of Craig’s Bond debut has been toned down in favour of conventional action
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
He’s back. Daniel Craig allays any fear that he was just a one-Martini Bond, with this, his second 007 adventure, the perplexingly named Quantum of Solace.
I’ve got to admit that this didn’t excite me as much as Casino Royale and the villain is especially underpowered. But Craig personally has the chops, as they say in Hollywood. He’s made the part his own, every inch the coolly ruthless agent-cum-killer, nursing a broken heart and coldly suppressed rage. If the Savile Row suit with the Beretta shoulder holster fits, wear it. And he’s wearing it.
This is a crash-bang Bond, high on action, low on quips, long on location glamour, short on product placement.
Under the direction of Marc Forster, the movie ladles out the adrenalin in a string of deafening episodes: car chases, plane wrecks, motor boat collisions. If it’s got an engine, and runs on fuel, and can crash into another similarly powered vehicle, with Bond at the wheel, and preferably with a delicious female companion in the passenger seat–well, it goes in the movie.
There are plenty of references to other Bond moments. A horribly dangerous skydive recalls The Spy Who Loved Me. A pile-up in Haiti which spills a macabre lorryload of coffins recalls the voodoo creepiness of Live and Let Die. And, most outrageously of all, the grotesque daubing of a female corpse brings back Goldfinger – though Sean Connery got an awful lot more mileage out of that sort of thing.
Keep your eyes on the CommanderBond.net main page for most up-to-date and complete coverage of Quantum of Solace.