Bond fires blanks
Review: Quantum of Solace (12A)
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Gemma Arterton
In an interview with the Sunday Times Culture a couple of weeks ago, director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, The Kiterunner) said that Quantum of Solace has to be every bit as good as, if not better than, Casino Royale – the film that stunningly reinvigorated the franchise – for it not to be deemed a failure. It seems that the latest Bond director was aware of his own vulnerability at the onset of the release of 007 22.
Beginning in medias res from the end of Casino, the film tracks Bond’s furious trajectory as he hunts down the elusive criminal organisation known only as ‘Quantum’, responsible for forcing his only love, Vesper Lynd, to suicide. His desperate pursuit for vengeance points him towards smarmy ‘eco-facilitator’ Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric), whose only real villainous scheme is to attain an underground water supply in the Bolivian desert. There is still the quintessential globe-trotting, from Sienna, to Haiti, to Austria to La Paz, but is it enough?
The trailers promised so much: Dench’s icy M decries: ‘Restrict Bond’s movements, put a stop on his Passport’; both MI6 and the CIA are after Bond; manic snippets of speedboat chases, dog-fights, car-chases, dangling-from-rope gun-fights, fist fights, knife fights, fights in burning rooms, axe-fights in bigger burning rooms, running, jumping, fights in sewers under a horserace, more running, and just lots of general shooting and killing. However, the director squeezes pretty much all of this action into the first hour, thus leaving the rest of the film to slowly unravel in an irksomely fidgety way, and is thereafter bogged down by banal grafts of confusing, unsettled plot exposition.
‘It’s boring, disorientating and most notably, it doesn’t feel like a Bond film.’
In theory, Quantum of Solace should be ridiculously good. But it just isn’t. It’s boring, disorientating and most notably, it doesn’t feel like a Bond film. Countless critics have highlighted its undeniable mimicry of the Bourne films, and it’s flagrantly there for all to see. Forster’s action sequences move so quickly, and are inter-cut constantly with other superfluous action, that you’re not quite sure whether his trigger-happy editor has just strung a surge of photos together beneath a barrage of banging, jagged loud noises.
To add to the insult, there is potentially the worst bond villain ever, shifty and shrewd, yes, but more in a sweaty estate agent kind of way. There is no humour whatsoever. The Jack White/Alicia Keys theme tune is woefully inappropriate, missing all the necessary farflung hyperbole that a good Bond-tune needs, instead striving for achingly cool and half-arsed. Craig and Dench are still good, but amid a malaise of incompetent actors, it’s not really surprising. The Bond girl is OK, but not nearly as intelligent, believable or charismatic as Eva Green from Casino Royale. One redeeming feature, however, is that Dame Judy says ‘shit’ and ‘bastard’.
It seems that director, Forster must now be suffering the consequences of his own candid expectations.