Quantum of Solace? What kind of name is that for a Bond film? Thunderball, From Russia with Love, Goldeneye or even The World is Not Enough – these are the names that could grace cheesy airport novels, and Bond is only just a cut above the pulp thriller genre by virtue of a sense of dry humour and Bond’s ingenuity. Quantum of Solace as a name is but a cut above Die Another Day.
With such a disappointing first impression, Quantum can only surpass expectation, surely? Well, let’s say it depends what expectations you bring in to the cinema with you, and how much you’re committed to the expectations of the Bond genre.
My first expectation was that Bond movies don’t do sequels. Bond does his job, does the femme fatale, and he moves on. Quantum isn’t so much a sequel of Casino Royale as it is the part after an intermission. The best way to flow into this movie would be to have just finished Royale and with it fresh in your mind walk into the cinema.
My second expectation was that Bond is a suave bastard who can charm the pants (or perhaps more appropriately panties) off the gorgeous woman at a black-tie event, and later on kick some bad guy butt while foiling the plot of a madman. Quantum doesn’t do suave – Bond is a hard man who certainly doesn’t look out of place in a black-tie, but there’s no charm – there’s no dry humour. I think there was one laugh line in the whole movie for me. And while there is the obligatory Bond girl, the bedding is almost a fait accompli.
Bond movies have a plot – and at some point Bond is put in danger. Except in Quatum, where Bond is never ensnared by the bad guys, a polar opposite to Casino Royale where I genuinely wondered whether they were intending to close out the series and character. Quantum also shortcuts exposition in favour of action, to the detriment of really developing a plot line of any significance – no interest forms for the lesser characters. Again, this would fit right in were this a post-intermission of Casino Royale, but it doesn’t stand alone.
The influence of the Bourne movies is overt – there’s no gadgets, the action is visceral and personal, the editing choppy and the international locations exotic and plenty. The cinematography is certainly top notch and the design aestheic prevading the film superb, including unique and beautiful location titles, but the fact remains is that this is not a Bond movie as Connery, Moore or even Brosnan would portray.
Bond should not need to fall to Bourne’s action focus – Bourne is the American to Bond’s quintessential Englishman, and to see the series come to this is disappointing.
This is not to take away from the performances of the cast – or at least the “good guys”. Dench, Craig, Olga Kurylenko and Jeffrey Wright as a moody Felix Leiter are all excellent as usual, and Kurylenko as Camille particularly is a strong character and actor, far from your typical Bond girl. It does full credit to her to come out of this movie as a character that could fully support her own franchise.
All told, Quantum of Solace is a good film, but not a great one. Missing the key elements of what makes Bond movies authentically Bond movies, it is a strong follow-up to Casino Royale but does not stand on its own. Watch it for the action, but don’t expect a Bond movie.