Quantum of Solace, the 22nd entry in the 007 franchise and Daniel Craig’s second as Bond, is likely destined to forever be known as “the one between Casino Royale and Skyfall.” Frankly, it’s easy to see why. While the picture has its moments, it simply doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessor or follow-up.
The film breaks the tradition of all entries that came before it: Quantum is a direct sequel to Casino Royale. It continues the story of 007 going after further bad guys who were ultimately responsible for events that unfolded in Casino Royale. We pick up right where the predecessor left off with the opening sequence and a car chase with Mr. White (who Bond captured at Casino‘s close) locked up in the trunk.
For the theme song, we get two immensely talented artists, Jack White and Alicia Keys, performing “Another Way to Die”. It’s not bad, but it’s a forgettable tune that should have been better, considering the players involved.
Considering the movie is a direct sequel, the mission for Bond is personal this time around. He’s searching for the people responsible for the death of Vesper, who Bond fell in love with in Casino Royale.
This leads 007 to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), the head of a shady organization known as Quantum. He has dastardly plans to control the water supply in Bolivia. If that sounds like kind of a weak plot line, it kind of is. As an audience, we simply aren’t invested much in it and the character of Greene is not one of the stronger villains, even though Amalric’s performance is solid.
Our main Bond girl also isn’t terribly interesting. Played by the lovely Olga Kurylenko, Bolivian agent Camille Montes is also on a personal mission. Her family was killed by General Medrano, a secondary villain. Her story isn’t very fleshed out and she doesn’t make much of an impression. I found myself much preferring the secondary Bond gal, MI6 agent Strawberry Fields (in a good performance from Gemma Arterton) and wished she would have been the main Bond female character. Unfortunately, she doesn’t make it the whole way and her demise is a nice nod to 1964’s Goldfinger.
We also have Judi Dench back in her sixth go-round as M and Jeffrey Wright reprising his Casino role as Felix Leiter. Also back: Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis, who helps out Bond for a final time.
Of course, there are a whole lot of action sequences. Quantum is directed by Marc Forster, most known for his work in 2001’s Monster’s Ball and 2004’s Finding Neverland. I actually found Forster’s direction for many of the action-oriented scenes a little lacking, with some of the scenes being too jumpy and others just typical fare. There are exceptions: the scene at the opera house is extremely well-done. It is definitely one of the picture’s high points.
Quantum of Solace has the interesting distinction of being the shortest Bond ever. While most entries clock in at over two hours, this one runs a quick 106 minutes. This makes sense because it illustrates my main criticism: there’s just not a lot of there there. The plot isn’t that good, the characters aren’t fleshed out, and the action sequences that get us from point A to point B are a mixed bag.
Journalists had a lot of fun with this film’s rather strange title. Starting with Goldeneye, Bond makers had to start coming up with their own names (after the majority of Ian Fleming titles were used up). This meant some generic ones in the Brosnan era – think Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. This one isn’t too great either but I suppose it sounds better than Amount of Consolation or Portion of Comfort.
While critics and audiences experienced an understandable letdown here, it’s box office numbers didn’t suffer. Quantum of Solace earned $586 million worldwide, just slightly under Casino‘s haul. It took in $168 million in the United States, barely edging its predecessor’s $167 million domestic take.
Quantum has some decent moments but is missing a key element that made Casino Royale such a rousing success. While this film maintains the serious and gritter tone of Casino, it fails to put in the sense of fun that was also present in the first Craig feature. And while it’s certainly watchable and moves along pretty briskly, its reputation as a disappointing follow-up to a great film is deserved.
Here are the facts:
Film: Quantum of Solace
U.S. Release Date: November 14, 2008
Director: Marc Forster
Screenplay: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade
Bond: Daniel Craig
Main Bond Villain: Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric)
Main Bond Girl: Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko)
Theme Song: “Another Way to Die” – performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys
Budget: $200 million
Worldwide Box Office: $586 million
My James Bond blog series will return in “The 007 Files: Skyfall”