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 of Daniel 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.

Review Round-Up
Daily Express
Time Out
Sunday Times
No Rating
BBC Radio 1
Daily Mail


Daily Express
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 and, 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 it, couldn’t 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 name-check.

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 explaining.

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 brutal fisticuffs.

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?
three This polished follow-up ticks all the right boxes mayhem-wise. Shame the film as a whole is such a downer.

Time Out
‘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.

Sunday Times
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, particularly 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.

Daily Mail
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 on vengeance that 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 franchise.

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 Arterton, 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 a list of ingredients. Mountainside car chase with Bond in an Aston Martin? Check. Rooftop chase? Check. Speedboat chase? Check. Nude girl dead and covered in gunk? Check. The familiarity of that shopping list might not matter if the sequences were as good as the ones they are imitating, but they aren't.

Director Marc Forster can direct actors, as he proved in Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball, but he was quite the wrong choice 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 stop 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.