Flying high off the back of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig and co. return with this poorly-titled, somewhat short entry into the annals of Bond history.
The most glaring sore point is the weak, badly executed plot. We follow a businessman backing a Bolivian coup in return for the nation’s water supply. It seems like something for a larger authority to get involved with rather than a semi-rogue super spy. This feels like a real MI6 operation, and a dull one at that.
Quantum of Solace was made during the writer’s strike and Craig himself has admitted that he had to co-write much of it with the director, the two making it up as they went along. This is a reasonable excuse but obviously it doesn’t make it a better story.
There’s a lot of action packed into the film. None of it really serves any real purpose other than to distract from the fact nothing is happening; but some of the sequences are really quite entertaining so in a way this tactic pays off! The opening car chase is a like-it-or-loathe it pastiche of a Bourne film; it’s a brash start and at least it tries to make some sort of statement. There’s just something missing there though and things quickly become confusing instead of enthralling.
The opera scene is also noteworthy, it’s a cool idea and Craig’s smug superiority fits the moment. As he uncovers the members of an illegal organisation one by one, it’s satisfying to see they have been rumbled. Unfortunately like the rest of the film it starts with a bang and ends with a whimper, the scene not really going anywhere.
There are some good central performances as usual. Daniel Craig has successfully put his own spin on Bond now and makes you want to see anything he does. Judi Dench gets a little more to do than last time. Olga Kurylenko is exotic enough to fit the bill but doesn’t actually get anything to do. It’s a shame that the only Bond girl who doesn’t sleep with Bond should be so wishy-washy. Gemma Arterton suffers a similar fate although she does manage to give some extra depth to her limited role.
The same can be said for the villain, who is so unremarkable it’s hard to remember what role he actually plays. The idea is supposed to be that Bond is up against a ‘normal’ bad guy, which is ‘real’ and therefore scary but it doesn’t actually make it any more menacing, just boring.
Quantum of Solace isn’t a particularly bad Bond film compared to some of the dreck we’ve seen so far, but just when Casino Royale showed us that the franchise was beginning to take a fresh start; this is a step in the wrong direction. It’s a film like no other in the series, and Craig is always a joy to watch, but otherwise this is a forgettable moment in Bond’s history.