I’d been waiting to see Quantum of Solace for most of this year, and in the weeks before the release it felt like the everyone else was waiting alongside me. Every other magazine had articles about Bond-style gadgets, or Bond style in general. There has also been loads of aggressive advertising around the movie, e.g. mobile phones, watches, video games, etc.
A couple of weeks before its release I was very happy to see a special clock display in Piccadilly Circus counting down the days, minutes and seconds until the premiere. Even the IMAX had a gorgeous ad display for Quantum on its exterior, though when I enquired about it they said they weren’t actually showing the movie there…
I’ve seen it twice now and may see it again if my mum decides to watch it after she returns from her Caribbean cruise. Although I was familiar with the events of Casino Royale, it had been a while since I’d last seen it, and during my first screening I struggled to remember some of the twists and turns (alliances and betrayals) from Casino which continued in Quantum. Before I saw the movie a second time, I watched Casino again and it all made much more sense, so I wouldn’t recommend seeing Quantum without a refresher.
I’ll try not to include any spoilers by focusing on characterisation and overall themes rather than specific plot points, apart from some basics that you’ve probably read elsewhere. The movie starts where Casino ended, with Bond finding an elusive link to the organisation that led Vesper to her doom and pursuing that lead with enraged focus.
Along the way, he joins forces with Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a resourceful woman who is entangled in her own mission of vengeance. I felt that their characters connected on a deep emotional level due to their shared loss and common enemies. As Dominic Greene (the movie’s main villain) says, they’re “damaged goods.”
Bond also has a brief dalliance with Agent Fields (Gemma Arterton), whom I felt was like a lamb amongst wolves.
Daniel Craig gave an impeccable performance as a broken man, who channels his rage into action. I was also very impressed by Olga Kurylenko, and the way that her character was forced to confront her demons at the end.
Though there were no flashbacks featuring Eva Green, the ghost of Vesper Lynd lingered over this movie, and her death was interpreted for Bond in different ways by several characters.
I wasn’t convinced by the final fight between Bond and Greene. Though Greene was obviously a lunatic, and there was a lot going on generally, I felt that Bond should have been incapacitated a little bit in order to make it more believable as Greene (Mathieu Amalric) was comparatively weedy.
Many critics have bemoaned the lack of the staple Bond motifs: the quips, the sex, the gadgets, etc., but I think that the filmmakers maintained a good balance between telling a compelling story and including some of those elements when appropriate. The opening credits sequence and accompanying theme by Jack White and Alicia Keys were pure 007, with all the sensuous female shapes dancing about.
We still didn’t have Q and all the amazing gadgets, but I was impressed by the MI6 telecommunication interface. There was a hint of sex, but since he’s still grieving for Vesper it wouldn’t have been appropriate for him to have been jumping into bed every 5 minutes. There were some funny moments though, especially with M and Agent Fields.
The filmmakers could have taken the easy option and started this movie a few years after Vesper’s death, but I think that it was more compelling to continue the story started in Casino Royale as a stage in the character’s development. I have a feeling that the next Bond movie will have more of those familiar elements as he grows into the jaded superagent that he’s destined to become.
Though Quantum is the shortest Bond movie at 106 mins, it makes very good use of the time. In any story there are times of action, and other slower moments for conveying information and to give us a chance to catch our breath; in Quantum there were several times when a brief informative scene was dramatically interrupted by a surprising event, which would then lead back into an action sequence.
The action scenes were amazing too – James is certainly pushed to his physical limits in this movie. Whether in a car, on a plane or on foot, he can handle any foe. There have been comments on similarities to the Bourne movies, but I feel that any technical similarities are superficial as the motivations driving Bond and Bourne are so different.
At the beginning of Casino Royale, Bond launches his career as a double-0 agent with his first two kills, but in Quantum of Solace he becomes a killing machine, seemingly finding it more expedient to kill a suspected target than to capture him for interrogation. He also doesn’t seem to have much reverence for the dead; when a friend of his turns up dead, his discards the corpse without a thought. At one point he even gives Camille tips on how to kill her target.
In both movies, Bond has to overcome an obstacle placed in his way by a woman after he goes too far. In Casino Royale, Vesper refuses to give him any more money after he allows Le Chiffre to trick him but is subsequently financed by a friendly CIA agent. In Quantum of Solace, M tries to shut him down when he appears to be out of control, but a friend helps him to carry on with his plans.
I also found it interesting that in both movies, Bond’s nemeses were sadistic businessmen rather than the more idiosyncratic supervillains of previous Bond movies. Dominic Greene uses the current focus on environmental issues as a front for his evildoing. In real life, it has struck me that many corporations have recently embraced our collective concern for saving physical resources simply to save money or for the sake of appearances – if the general public didn’t care about it, they wouldn’t bother either.
In addition, one of the themes that came across quite strongly in Quantum was the fact that both the American and British governments were amenable to working with dictators and others with questionable motives when it suited their interests (remind you of anything?). In these ways Quantum of Solace brings to mind the hidden machinations of our troubled modern times.
Urban Recluse Rating: