The first reviews for "Quantum of Solace" are out following the press screening in London on Friday evening...

First Press Reviews
17th October 2008

The first press screening of the 22nd James Bond film "Quantum of Solace" was held in London on Friday 17th October 2008 at the Odeon in London. Journalists from major media outlets were there to get the first impressions of Daniel Craig's second outing as 007, directed by Marc Forster. Overall, the reviews are positive but note that it is heavy on action and does not quite live up to "Casino Royale" (2006). Many cite the performances from Daniel Craig (007) and Dame Judi Dench (M) as the highlights of the movie.

Review Round-Up
BBC News
No Rating
The Times
The Independent
The Guardian
The Telegraph
No Rating
Total Film


BBC News
This is a Bond adventure that's badder, better but not bigger. Clocking in at one and three-quarter hours, it's a good half hour shorter than 007's previous outing. And its reduced running time results in a leaner, tauter experience. Picking up shortly after the end of Casino Royale when Bond confronted the mysterious Mr White, Quantum of Solace quickly throws him into a round-the-globe hunt. Bond is trying to track down the shadowy organization whom he holds responsible for the death of Vesper - the woman he loved and who died at the end of the last movie. And that leads him to sinister bad guy Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric.

So far, so familiar. But what this film does differently is to focus closely on an emotionally battered Bond, his mission and his motivation. There are odd moments of uncertainty when the film tries to juggle Bond's personal story with the ambitious plans being pursued by Greene. But for the most part the villainy rightly takes a back seat to Bond's emotional journey. 007's mission may be what drives the film's plot, but the real interest lies in how Bond deals with the individuals and situations he meets along the way. That's not to say that the film jettisons all the things that have characterized the previous stories. There are broad nods to Goldfinger especially, but this film manages the difficult task of moving the franchise into interesting new areas. The raw nature of the film may put off some who yearn for the days of gizmos, gadgets and Bond quips as he dispenses with faceless opponents.

And it's a brave step to push even further a lot of the themes developed in Casino Royale, especially the rediscovery of who Bond is, and why he is the way he is. It's a film that feels like the second part of a trilogy, with this being the bleaker second act. For a lot of the movie Bond is a particularly unsympathetic character, and often it's only Craig's performance along with the shifting morality of Bond's legion of enemies that forces the audience to root for him. Olga Kurylenko, who plays a refreshingly different kind of female companion, does well with a part that has far more depth than most Bond girls. And Gemma Arterton is superb in her brief role as an agent whom Bond encounters in Bolivia, cementing her position as one of cinema's brightest young stars. As ever the end credits promise that James Bond will return, and thanks to Quantum of Solace, the sense of anticipation for this should be particularly high. Not to see what super villain Bond will be battling, but to discover what the next stage will be in a character that Daniel Craig has managed to reinvent and develop movie by movie.

Times Online
James Bond is back, and this time it’s mighty personal. Daniel Craig’s craggy agent picks up exactly where he left off in another bruising thriller that leaves you feeling both drained and exhilarated. There are hand-to-hand fights that make your eyes water and old-school stunts involving motorbikes, speedboats, jet fighters and expensive cars that give you whiplash just looking at them. Really, nobody does it better than the new 007.

Needless to say the plot is as forbidding as the title. A link to a bank account in Haiti puts Bond on the scent of Mathieu Amalric’s chief creep and ruthless businessman, Dominic Greene. All great Bond adversaries are generously blessed with kinks and quirks and Greene is no different. Amalric has a wonderfully wormy arrogance. His sidekick, Elvis (Anatole Taubman), sports a monkish fringe, and Tarantino bad looks. But it’s the manner in which Amalric manages to poison all trust in Bond, even from his nearest and dearest, that makes him one of the classic arch-adversaries. Cold rage threatens to derail Bond’s mission to crack Greene’s dastardly organisation known as Quantum, and I doubt that there’s a better actor at bottling rage than Daniel Craig.

The deadpan humour is still there. And despite the occasional blasts of visceral and grisly violence, Craig is threatening to become the most popular 007 yet, certainly with the younger generation. Even the famous Bond babes seem to be getting tougher. Olga Kurylenko’s stunning, hard-as-nails beauty, Camille, has her own private vendetta that she wants to bring to a bloody conclusion, with or without Bond’s help. And Gemma Arterton’s effortlessly foxy Agent Field appeals to the better side of the wounded anti-romantic.

The director, Marc Forster, has absorbed the lucrative lessons discovered in Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale. He has also managed to pace his sequel much better. Royale felt slightly wheel-clamped by one too many longeurs. If anything, the crunching chase sequences in Quantum of Solace are even more magnificently dangerous. And the daredevil leaps and tumbles through glass roofs are just as sensational as the splintering high-speed pyrotechnics. But it’s the amount of heartache and punishment that Craig’s new Bond absorbs that makes him look so right for our times. Bond is no longer a work in progress. He is now the cruel, finished article.

The Independent
Frenetic, full of chase sequences and sudden switches in location, the film has a demented energy about it, as if it’s taking his feverish tempo from Bond himself. He – we learn early on – is “running wild”. Barely five minutes into the film and we have been whisked from Siena to Port-au-Prince via London. Cars have screeched round mountain-top roads. Bond has been shown racing through gutters, alleyways and over rooftops. We’ve seen him in a motorbike and on a boat. Not much later, he’s in a plane.

The way [director Marc Forster] explores the tortured psyche of cinema’s favourite spy isn’t through lengthy dialogue sequences – it’s through action. There is something desperate about Bond. Craig plays him with a gimlet-eyed intensity that makes his first turn in the role in Casino Royale seem lightweight. David Arnold’s rousing score seems to be driving him on. The drawback to the frenetic approach is that the chases risk merging into one another. Comic relief is in short supply. We don’t have any boffins introducing new gadgets.

Among the main pleasures of an uneven Bond movie is Dench’s wonderful performance. She is more in evidence here than in her previous Bond movies and has a relationship with 007 that is maternal and flirtatious. Nothing flusters Dench’s M. In one tremendous scene, we see her running her bath and dabbing at her face with wipes as she gives orders to operatives around the world to curb Bond’s movements. Gemma Arterton is also good value as Agent Fields at the British consulate in Bolivia, a siren with a touch of St Trinians about her, saying “oh gosh” when she sends one of Greene’s henchmen flying.

There is a tension at the heart of the movie. On the one hand, this is an out-and-out action flick. On the other, Forster (the director of arthouse hits such as Monster’s Ball and Stranger Than Fiction) is trying to show us the paranoia and loneliness of a homicidal spy’s life. The set-pieces are supposed to be exhilarating but also reveal Bond’s anger and bereavement.

Quantum Of Solace doesn’t seem like a major entry in the Bond canon. Well under two hours long, it’s shorter and more frenetic than most of its predecessors, and an often-jolting experience to watch. Loose ends about. What it does have, though, above all, is vigour. The franchise hasn’t run out of juice quite yet.

The Guardian
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.

As in Casino Royale, the famous John Barry theme tune is saved up until the end; a baffling, decision, I always think, not to use this thrilling music at the beginning of the film. Bond has hardly got his 007 spurs, when he's infuriating M, Judi Dench, with his insolence and insubordination. Out in the field, he's whacking enemy agents in short, sharp, bone-cracking bursts of violence when he should be bringing them in for questioning.

Olga Kurylenko plays Camille, a mysterious, smouldering figure, out to wreak vengeance on the corrupt Bolivian dictators who killed her family. Britain's Gemma Arterton plays Agent Fields; she greets 007 wearing a trenchcoat with apparently little underneath, like some sort of MI6 strippogram. And she is the recipient of his ardour in the luxury hotel suite - that quintessential Bond habitat.

I was disappointed there was so little dialogue, flirtation and characterisation in this Bond: Forster and his writers Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade clearly thought this sort of sissy nonsense has to be cut out in favour of explosions. Well, perhaps that is what Bond fans want (not this Bond fan, though). But I was also baffled that relatively little was made of the deliciously villainous Amalric: especially the final encounter.

But set against this is the cool, cruel presence of Craig - his lips perpetually semi-pursed, as if savouring some new nastiness his opponents intend to dish out to him, and the nastiness he intends to dish out in return. This film, unlike the last, doesn't show him in his powder-blue swimming trunks (the least heterosexual image in 007 history), but it's a very physical performance. Quantum of Solace isn't as good as Casino Royale: the smart elegance of Craig's Bond debut has been toned down in favour of conventional action. But the man himself powers this movie; he carries the film: it's an indefinably difficult task for an actor. Craig measures up.

The Telegraph
Quantum of Solace, the follow-up to 2006's all-conquering Casino Royale, begins with a bang. Lots of them, in fact. Edgy close-ups of Daniel Craig's granite features give way to a spectacular high-speed chase around an Italian coastal road. Bullets fly, glass splinters, cars crunch, in a scene that - like many of the film's best - owes much to the quick-fire editing of the Bourne thrillers.

By the time the opening credits come along, playing out to Jack White and Alicia Keys's punchy title song, you realise you've barely breathed for five minutes. Thereafter, Craig's second outing as the famous so-called "spy" - actually, when you think about it, an assassin - turns out to be a tale of revenge. And not for the first time in the franchise: Timothy Dalton spent the whole of 1989's Licence to Kill in pursuit of the man who murdered the wife of his CIA chum Felix Leiter.

For half an hour or so after the pre-credits "teaser", the film barely lets up. An interrogation-gone-wrong leads to a cracking foot-chase across Siena's rooftops - particularly "Bourne", this one. And this, in turn, morphs into a brilliantly shot fight on a building-restoration platform. Giddy stuff.

And then, the pacing becomes more fractured. One wonders if director Marc Forster and screenwriters Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis haven't tried a little too hard to distance the film from traditional Bond plots. The expository dialogue scenes can be dull, and cram in so many machinations and double-crossings that it's easy to lose track of who's duping whom. And yet, several times - just when you're tempted to consult your watch - the movie suddenly surprises.

So, if Quantum of Solace lacks Casino Royale's narrative drive, and is less than the sum of its parts, those parts are often terrific. See it for them, and see it for Craig's fully-formed Bond: angry, icily unsentimental, and fleetingly borderline psychotic at the close. Craig inhabits the character with a ruthless charisma that never lets up. And he, above all, keeps you watching.

Total Film
Action - lots of it - almost too much in the first hour. Car-chase, crowd chase, horserace, speedboat race, rooftop pursuit (yes, like Hulk)... Best is a Bond-vs-henchman battle on collapsing scaffolding which ends with both men swinging and dangling and... if only... they could get... to their guns... There's also a finale so fiery, you can feel the heat belting off the screen (not literally) and a terrific set-piece at the Austrian opera-house, where Bond shoots and slays his way out as Forster intercuts with an on-stage death-scene. Arty, indeed.

Craig has grown into the role but Forster struggles to deliver on the promise to get into his head and demystify him more. He's the same as he was in Casino Royale - brash, brutal, dirty, nasty. Craig clearly enjoys the bit where, icy blue eyes glinting, he bludgeons a baddie and calmly holds his pulse, waiting for him to definitely die. Brr.

The [Bourne] comparisons will still linger ("Bond is running wild!") and it's all shot, zippy, hand-held, Paul Greengrass-style. Forster never seems comfortable with just keeping the camera still or holding a shot. Maybe that's the fault of his relatively brief edit-time, but the scene where Bond fights up close with a knife-swishing assassin in a cluttered apartment: pure Bourne.

Best Bond Ever? Definitely not. The action is loud and proud, but the story feels disjointed and muddled, with some uneven flecks of comedy., Still, Craig's presence keeps the edges from fraying too far and Forster just about nails the extra levels or artsiness and melancholy.