The second outing for Daniel Craig as James Bond, in ‘Quantum Of Solace’ has always been heavily criticised and is generally considered to be the worst of the Craig era. Actually, most people regard this to be just a pretty shitty film in general. Indeed, my own attitude towards ‘Quantum Of Solace’ was one of apathy, and mild disdain. Truth to be told, I couldn’t remember much about this film, which may say a lot for the quality of it. But how forgettable the film was did at least leave me with the opportunity to hopefully enjoy the film from a fresh perspective.
In a direct follow on from ‘Casino Royale’, a heartbroken Bond (Daniel Craig) returns to work with MI6, determined to bring down the mysterious terrorist organisation he is fighting against. Whilst interrogating Mr White (Jesper Christensen), it becomes clear that MI6 have underestimated the threat they face. The new face of evil, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), plans to take control of Bolivia via political puppet, General Medrano, and very few people stand in his way. With the help of Bolivian native Camille (Olga Kurylenko), Bond must shut down the latest terrorist movement before any plans to exact revenge for Vesper’s death can be realised.
So what is the problem with ‘Quantum Of Solace’? There’s certainly no issue with Daniel Craig, who seamlessly carries over the wit and charm introduced in ‘Casino Royale’, only this time he is all the more clinical and ruthless in the handling of his enemies. In support, Olga Kurylenko is certainly not offensive, and she does deliver a couple of strong moments, but is largely non-descript. Bond’s matriarchal superior, M, played by Judi Dench, gets more screen time in this instalment, which is always a pleasure. And I have to mention Jeffrey Wright, who reprises his role as CIA agent Felix Leiter. Admittedly, he only has a small part, but he is a very likeable and effective tertiary character.
The way I see it, the main problems with ‘Quantum Of Solace’ come down to two things – the villain, and the action scenes. Those are two pretty crucial components for any Bond film, so you can imagine how detrimental it would be to get just one of these aspects wrong. Firstly, that villain, Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric. It says a lot that I couldn’t even remember who the villain was in this film before I watched it again. Whilst we saw glimpses of cowardice from Le Chiffre in ‘Casino Royale’, we at least knew that he was ruthless enough to compensate. Greene however, simply gave the impression of a weak little man who would bolt at the first sign of danger – you know the type, the kid who got bullied at school and wants revenge now he’s rich and has a degree of power.
However, it is those action scenes, and in turn the overall tone of the film in general which indeed makes this film the least impressive of the Craig era. Whilst ‘Casino Royale’ utilised strong, considered action scenes with an ultimate purpose, many of the action in ‘Quantum Of Solace’ felt gratuitous, over-the-top and rather cliché. It should be a crime to make a film so overstuffed with crashes, explosions and gunfire, if these theatrical stunts don’t actually serve the plot; it’s action for actions sake and it’s a bit of a pet peeve for me. If you were to remove all references to James Bond from this film, you would be hard pressed to distinguish ‘Quantum Of Solace’ from any other run-of-the-mill action movies, which should never be the case with the treasured Bond series.
That said, it’s not all bad. For one, this is a Bond movie and you are at least in the world of James Bond, which is a pretty cool place to be. Nostalgia aside, there are a few interesting scenes which, coincidentally, aren’t entirely reliant on action. Bond for me, is always at his best when he’s calm, clever and calculating. I love the scene in the theatre where Bond infiltrates a seedy business discussion, and in the hotel lift where he coolly takes down a few men and slips out unnoticed. Daniel Craig is a brilliant action hero, but there’s more to him than that and ‘Quantum Of Solace’ doesn’t show that off enough.
There can be no argument that ‘Quantum Of Solace’ is the worst of Daniel Craig’s four outings as 007, but I think that’s more a case of being in good company than the film itself being fundamentally awful. There’s an evident lack of direction and consistency, but some of the thematic elements are interesting, with revenge taking centre stage. Most importantly, the credibility of James Bond as a character isn’t compromised by the disappointing aspects around him; he’s still the clinical, brooding agent who can break someone’s face one moment, then perfectly deliver a one-liner the next. I enjoyed ‘Quantum Of Solace’ a lot more than I thought I would, and it certainly wasn’t as bad as I remembered; proof that every film deserves a second chance.
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench