More reviews for "Quantum of Solace" are
out following the press screenings in London and Los
Angeles during the past week...
More Press Reviews
22nd October 2008
Following press screening
of the 22nd James Bond film "Quantum
of Solace" in London and Los Angeles over the
past week, additional reviews have started to appear in
print and online. The
first batch were published on 17th October. Journalists from major media outlets were there
to get the first impressions
Craig's second outing as
007, directed by Marc
Forster. The later reviews have tended to be a more critical
of the action-packed outing that some have said leaves little
time for viewers to catch their breath.
Quantum of Solace barely feels like a Bond movie, what
with all the staple elements of the franchise stripped bare in
an effort to make an even more “realistic” adventure.
There is not a single gadget, the villain is a dull nonentity
as in Casino Royale, there is no Q or Miss Moneypenny. Most disappointingly,
it is devoid of humour, a quality vital to humanising Craig’s
brutal Bond. The picture is violent and dour, with 007 turned
into something of a charmless thug. The plot picks up an hour
after Casino Royale, with Bond on the trail of the organisation
that employed his dead lover Vesper.
He’s virtually out of control, whacking villains here
and there – even, accidentally, a British secret agent,
a mistake that appears to cause him no remorse.
Judi Dench’s M struggles to rein him in as his vendetta,
taking him from Haiti to Bolivia, causes him to cross swords
with shady businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) who is
plotting to restore a despot to power in the South American country.
Greene is neither charismatic nor dangerous, while the plot is
confusing without being gripping or interesting. Bond rarely
gets in a tight spot and nothing is at stake at the climax. The
film’s makers seem to be more concerned with Bond’s
brooding inner life as he tries to ascertain if Vesper betrayed
him or not. Frankly, I gave up caring (and, come to think of
even work out the answer).
As for the Bond girls, the perky Gemma Arterton is wasted in
a brief, redundant role and the sultry Olga Kurylenko pops in
and out of the action illogically. Craig is good again and convincing
in the many action scenes but you are desperate for him to crack
a smile or a joke. There
is a desperate lack of wit in the screenplay. The action is fast
and realistic but is almost too in-your-face. Unlike Jason Bourne,
Bond knows who he is so there’s no
point trying to turn him into anyone else. And please – bring
back the fun.
“This man and I have unfinished business,” seethes
James Bond through gritted teeth at the end of Quantum of Solace.
The same might well be said for actor Daniel Craig, whose bold
re-interpretation of Ian Fleming’s legendary spy in 2006’s
Casino Royale left us all wondering where the series would go
to next. The answer, in Marc Forster’s stylish contribution
to the long-running franchise, is all over the shop. 007’s
pursuit of the mysterious organisation who turned the late Vesper
Lynd into a traitor sees him travel from the sewers and rooftops
of Sienna to an arid desert in Bolivia to the busy straits of
the Panama Canal and an elegant opera house in Austria. What
we wouldn’t give for his frequent flyer miles, even if
they would entail using Virgin Atlantic – one of several
promotional partners whose goods and services get an ostentatious
All this to-ing and fro-ing, however, does little
to conceal the central weakness in this 22nd official Bond movie – a
convoluted plot even a criminal mastermind would have trouble
unravelling. Okay, we know that it has something to do with Dominic
Greene (French actor Mathieu Amalric), a nefarious entrepreneur
who plans to take control of South America’s dwindling
water supply. What we’re not so sure about is why James
should waste his time on such an unworthy adversary, or what
it has to do with a still-baffling title no one even bothers
Matters are further complicated by Camille (Olga Kurylenko),
a beautiful sexpot who repeatedly crosses Bond’s path and
has her own reasons for following Greene around the globe. Glamorous,
resourceful and more than capable of looking after herself in
a scrap, this revenge-seeking cutie would appear to be 007’s
equal in every department. Why, then, do they not end up in the
sack? That is one of many niggling questions we are left with
at the end of a peculiarly joyless entry in the Eon canon.
Others include why Gemma Arterton has so little to do as Bond’s
sultry MI6 contact in Bolivia, what Jack White and Alicia Keys
were ingesting when they came up with the risible theme tune
and when, if ever, we will get to see Q and Moneypenny again.
At least the action’s up to snuff, Bourne stunt co-ordinator
Dan Bradley delivering an awesome pre-credits car chase, a terrific
aerial dogfight and a cracking boat sequence alongside some effectively
Craig might not be the finished article as James, but his thoughtful,
rather melancholy portrayal continues to find fascinating new
shadings in a character he will surely have further opportunity
to explore. Like Timothy Dalton before him, however, his take
on the role automatically precludes the kind of playful levity
that has always been a vital part of a 007 flick’s make-up.
Quantum of Solace delivers thrills, drama and glamour in Bondian
spades. Is it too much to ask, though, for a couple of gags?
This polished follow-up ticks all the right boxes mayhem-wise.
Shame the film as a whole is such a downer.
‘Quantum of Solace’ is little else than action with
scant room for charm, comedy or seduction. It’s the shortest
Bond ever but with the same amount of airborne, watery and rooftop
high jinx. The result? Lots of noise, little story, fantastic
sets (although no fantastic sex: the one classic lovemaking scene
is ruthlessly, almost perversely, cut short.)
It starts as it goes on: loudly and relentlessly, stylishly
and superficially. A brilliant helicopter shot glides us over
an Italian lake to find Bond tearing along a lakeside road, in
and out of tunnels. It turns out he’s got Jesper Christensen’s
Mr White in the boot. So that’s his first motivation revealed
for a killing spree that takes in Italy, Haiti, Austria and Bolivia:
vengeance. The second reason emerges soon enough: the blossoming
of an undetected organisation with tentacles (and double agents)
all over the globe and linked to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric),
an environmentalist who you suspect may not care much about ice
caps. Amalric is slippery and creepy; but his creaky, strangely
mute storyline doesn’t live up to his performance.
The presence of Craig and Dench compensates for many of the
film’s failings. There’s an amusing complicity between
the pair, while Craig takes the cruel efficiency of his Bond
to new, vicious levels even if he’s not comfortable with
the potential lighter side of the role (nor, it seems, are the
director, the writers, the producers…). Dench succeeds
mostly by playing M dead straight, even when conducting international
espionage while running a bath. Our prediction – and hopes – for
the next Bond? Let there be light. Let there be jokes. Let there
be some room to breathe. But stick with the fluid combination
of sets, editing and photography: that trio is the real star
of the 22nd Bond movie.
It's James Bond, licence to bore. Quantum of Solace may be a
sequel to Casino Royale but it lacks that movie’s panache
and brio. With Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball and The Kite
Runner) as director and a script from Paul Haggis, rated these
days as Hollywood’s most intelligent screenwriter, Quantum
of Solace ought to have worked. Instead Bond is a boorish oaf
who simply rushes from country to country with the manic speed
of Jason Bourne, including sequences
shot in Panama, Chile, Italy, Mexico and Austria, in a plot about
holding a country to ransom over its water supply.
Quantum of Solace lacks any wit, ironic or otherwise, which
has been a strength of so many 007 films. It has a tuneless opening
song by Alicia Keys and Jack White. No sex either, except for
a two-second flash of the naked back
of Agent Fields, a colleague of Bond’s who is played by
Gemma Arterton. Neither is there much violence. At least parents
will not have the problems they experienced with Casino Royale,
its eyewatering torture scene in which Bond was tied naked to
a chair and his private parts thwacked with a knotted rope.
This is not to say that all was a bore. There is one terrific
15-minute sequence where Bond and his sidekick Camille (Olga
Kurylenko) are escaping the agents of a dastardly tyrant. They
are in an ancient plane being chased through mountainous scenery
by the villain’s super-duper jet. It is the only
sequence that really remained in my head afterwards. At around
one hour 40 minutes, this Bond is shorter than most. Somehow
it felt longer.
BBC Radio 1
First things first - if you're gonna check out Quantum Of Solace
when it releases on 31st October, you could do worse than spinning
through 007's previous outing, Casino Royale, beforehand. QOS
takes no prisoners when it comes to carrying on the story of
Vesper Lynd, Mr White and Le Chiffre, the action kicking off
just an hour after the last pic ended.That made me love it
all the more. This Bond flick is a lean, mean fighting machine.
Crap dad gags are kept to a minimum in favour of ruthless,
brutal action, globetrotting from London to Haiti, from Switzerland
to Bolivia whilst a poutier-than-ever Daniel Craig relentlessly
tries to track down the mysterious bad guys that killed the
woman he loved.
Audacious highlights include a high tension action scene with
an operatic backdrop, Bond's masterful seduction of posh civil
servant Fields (Gemma Arterton) and, of course, the drama packed
opening titles, Jack and Alicia's "Another Way To Die" ripping
up the speakers when played at cinema level volume.
Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene is suitably slimy as yet another
megalomaniac bad guy - basing his performance on French president
Nicholas Sarkozy apparently - whilst the sultry Olga Kurylenko
as Camille smartly matches Bond when it comes to being another
rogue player out for revenge. They sizzle, making the male/female
duet of the theme tune even more relevant.
At 106 minutes this is streamlined, super slick action - yes,
even more Bourne-like than ever but with a panache that manages
to both hark back to 007's 60s heritage at the same time as being
slap bang on target with its onslaught of bling gadgets. A slam
dunk then, Bond squaring up to his cinematic rivals with balls
the size of an elephant and making a case for the the super spy's
best movie ever.
The 22nd Bond picture is the shortest yet, but feels like one
of the longest. About an hour in, I began to feel something I
haven't for quite a few years in a Bond film - bored. That's
because the script makes very little sense. We rarely know
how or why
Bond is doing what he is, or going where he is.
The script makes such huge leaps of geography and motivation
that whole scenes of exposition must have been left on the cuttingroom
floor. The resulting film is as meaningless as its title. If we
don't marvel at Bond's ability to extract the information he
needs, and he becomes just a running, chasing, killing machine,
that removes a large part of why he's attractive.
Daniel Craig looks extremely cool, and he has always been a
strong actor, but he's never able to show us the depth he did
in Casino Royale. In his second outing as 007, he sets about
using his licence to kill, in no uncertain manner. So set is
he makes Rambo look like a pussycat. That monotony of callousness
may be very modern, but it's the reason Timothy Dalton never
quite worked as Bond - he lacked
wit and humour. Craig showed in Casino Royale that he can play
comedy, but he's lost without help from the script. The gags
have gone, along with the gadgets. Wit and fun have deserted
The remarkably incoherent plot has Bond chasing the killers
of his treacherous lover, Vesper, which leads him to a Bolivian
general who wants to be dictator, and a greedy international
criminal (Mathieu Amalric, so memorable as the paralysed anti-hero
of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) with environmental pretensions,
but a secret agenda. Amalric makes his villain a nasty little
rodent of a man, but he's physically unimpressive, and tactically
he's clueless. Bond deserves better adversaries than this.
The only time 007 seems in genuine danger is when M (Judi Dench)
gets so cross with him that she cuts off all his credit cards.
There are two Bond girls. Olga Kurylenko, as Camille, and Gemma
as an MI6 agent, both look great, but neither has much
in the way of character. They're instantly forgettable, and the
sex is as anodyne as you would expect from the 12A certificate.
The whole thing plays as though the producers are ticking off
of ingredients. Mountainside car chase with Bond in an Aston
Martin? Check. Rooftop chase? Check. Speedboat chase? Check.
and covered in gunk? Check. The familiarity of that shopping
list might not matter if the sequences were as good as the ones
are imitating, but they
Director Marc Forster can direct actors, as he proved
in Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball, but he was quite the
to make a Bond film. He has no flair for action, and commits
the same sins that were visible in this week's big chase thriller,
Eagle Eye. He gets in so close with the camera that we don't
know what's happening, why, where or to whom. As a result, we
caring. Some of the stunts remain impressive, and this picture
will do well because of its predecessors. But it's a huge disappointment.
Quantum Of Solace picks up moments after the credits rolled at the end of Casino
Royale, with Daniel Craig’s bereaved and blooded Bond in Siena, wrecking
his Aston Martin in a pre-credits car chase complicated by thick traffic, twisty
mountain roads and emotional Italian drivers. In his car-boot, with a bullet
in his leg, is Mr White (Jesper Christensen), a higher-up in the cartel (Quantum)
which employed and then killed the baddie of the earlier film, and who Bond
blames for the death of the girl he loved last time round. Mr White is taken
to be grilled by M, just as the local horse race (the palio) is taking place
(obviously, the filmmakers saw the documentary The Last Race too), only for
the villain to sneer that MI6 and the CIA obviously know nothing about Quantum’s
many well-placed agents, whereupon someone presumably trustworthy pulls a gun – and
Bond is back in action, leaving wounded enemies and allies behind as he barges
through crowds, runs up stairs, dangles from scaffolding and dodges swinging
girders to get his man.
In an era marked by franchise bloat, it’s entirely admirable
that Quantum of Solace is the shortest Bond movie to date – it
drops a great many of the long-running series mannerisms (callous
quips, expository lectures, travelogue padding, Q and Moneypenny)
as it globe-trots urgently from Italy to Haiti to Austria to
Italy again to Bolivia to Russia with stopovers in London and
other interzones. The major gadget on offer is a neat trick with
a mobile phone, which the film trusts us to follow without a
pompous lecture on how it works, and there’s a nod to traditionally
absurd Bond girl names in Gemma Arterton’s Agent Fields – she
refuses to give her real, silly, embarrassing name which we only
find out from the end credits (it’s not Gracie or London).
Everything in this movie is edited as if it were an action sequence,
which means that when the set-pieces come they have to go into
overdrive to stay ahead of the game, with Bourne veteran Dan
Bradley staging more brutal, devastatingly fast fights and chases.
We get striking locations (including primaeval caves and a South
American desert) and absolutely gorgeous, stylised art direction – but
there’s little lingering on the backdrops, since a brief
establishing shot is usually enough to set up the nimble, nifty,
explosive action that takes place against them.
Previously, the Bond films have been a series, but this is an
actual sequel – an approach Ian Fleming used in his books,
but which was dropped from the movies because the novels were
filmed out of order. This makes for a film which hits the ground
running, but also means we get less to latch onto emotionally
since Daniel Craig became the complete 007 over the course of
Casino Royale, and here just has to be set loose. The sparks
struck between the wounded hero and scarred heroine Camille – whose
revenge-driven sub-plot owes a lot to July Havelock, the girl
from the story ‘For Your Eyes Only’ – don’t
match those between Craig and Eva Green last time round because
this Bond is human enough to start worrying about how regularly
his girlfriends get killed. The slinky, sultry Olga Kurylenko
is in fact so fixed on murdering her enemy that it’s possible
she technically doesn’t even count as a Bond girl – she’s
good, but doesn’t get the breakout showcase Green landed
in Casino Royale. However, for the diehard romantics, Bond does
tenderly hug a dying male friend before disposing of his corpse
in a dumpster (‘he wouldn’t care’) and gives
Camille handy tips on professionally assassinating the extremely
unpleasant would-be dictator who slaughtered her family.
Casino Royale had one of Fleming’s best plots to stick
to, but Quantum of Solace is on its own, taking only its title
from the 1960 story. Extrapolating from hints dropped in the
earlier film about who ran the late LeChiffre, it introduces
Quantum, a SPECTRE-type organisation which ought to be good for
a few more movies. The notion of an international alliance of
high-stakes criminals with heavy political ties is Flemingesque,
but gets a credible, cynical 21st Century spin in that the American
and British governments (and security services), above criticism
in Fleming’s day, are perfectly happy to get in bed with
killers and megalomaniacs so long as the oil keeps flowing – which
forces Bond out on his own, pursuing a crusade either for utterly
altruistic (helping drought-blighted Bolivian peasants) or utterly
selfish (getting his own back on the one small fish directly
responsible for Vesper’s plight) motives. Quick jabs evoke
highlights of the earlier films, as Craig’s sea-bathing
in Casino Royale referenced Ursula Andress in Dr No; one major
character’s fate is a stark black updating of one of the
most famous early Bond images, and signals which commodity has
become most prized in a world where Goldfinger or Blofeld would
seem like jokes.
Daniel Craig continues to be his own man as Bond, though this
instalment scarcely gives him breathing room between strenuous
activity to show off his more stylish or snobbish aspects. When
he chugs his signature martini (take notes as the bartender rattles
off the recipe) even devoted allies worry that seven brain-numbing
drinks in a row might not be good for the agent’s long-term
mental state or ability in the field. Craig looks good in a tux,
blending into the crowd at an opera first night where the villains
have convened to mutter evilly through Tosca, and wears his bruises
and scratches like badges of honour. He shows a certain expense
account flair in turning down a modest La Paz pensione to check
into the poshest hotel in the city by insisting that the ‘teacher
on sabbatical’ he is pretending to be has won the lottery.
But, presumably coached by Bradley, he is at his most elegant
in tiny action moments – upending an idling motorbike to
send a minor thug flying, casually stepping off balconies and
walking along ledges, efficiently crippling a liftful of agents
trying to arrest him.
With all the ills of the world down to Quantum, the baddies
we see are – like those in Dr No, From Russia With Love
and Thunderball – junior associates of archfiends who operate
at such a high level we don’t even get to meet their cats.
The French Mathieu Amalric makes the smarmy fake environmentalist
Greene a suitably loathsome character, as much for his persistently
cruel treatment of his mistress Camille as his complicated scheme
to overthrow the government of Bolivia and grab the country’s
natural resources; like Mads Mikkelsen’s LeChiffre, he’s
young and fit enough to hold his own in a scrap, but has a nice
line in craven delegation, posing a minion with a gun to face
certain death as he tries to escape the climactic spectacular
conflagration, and gets some of the smart, threatening, witty
script patches we assume Paul Haggis dropped in. A nod also to
the Mexican Joaquin Cosio, who plays a South American would-be
dictator whose filthy foreign habits (like celebrating a big
deal by raping a waitress) Fleming would have enjoyed despising.
A pacy, visually imaginative follow-up to the series relaunch.
If it doesn't even try to be bigger and better than Casino
Royale, that's perhaps a smart move in that there's still a
sense at the finish that Bond's mission has barely begun and
he'll need a few more movies to work his way up to demolishing
the apparently undefeatable Quantum organisation. As with The
Dark Knight, the only real caveat is that while it's exciting
and imaginative, it's not exactly anyone's idea of fun. To
keep in the game, perhaps the next movie - The Hildebrand Rarity?
Riscio? The Property of a Lady? - could let the hero enjoy
himself a bit more.