Shaken, not stirred. James Bond may never utter his classic phrase in his 22nd big screen adventure, ‘Quantum of Solace,’ but it’s certainly
how I felt.
Following up on the best (that’s right, the very best) Bond film ever, ‘Quantum’ is a mixed bag, and therefore ultimately a disappointment.
Picking up just minutes after ‘Casino Royale,’ ‘Quantum’ is the first true sequel in Bond history. It finds 007 out for revenge after the death
of his lover Vesper, as seen in ‘Royale,’ and uncovering a powerful and evil organization, possibly along the lines of SPECTRE from the
Sean Connery days.
And while the setup seems ripe for another well-grounded and surprisingly personal Bond film, it never quite reaches that potential. Part
of the blame has to be laid on the screenplay, which is underdeveloped, with the plot almost feeling like a weak attempt to simply connect a
series of surprisingly underwhelming action sequences.
And that blame must be laid on first-time Bond and first-time action director Marc Forster, who has absolutely no pacing for these high-
octane sequences. The edits are too fast, the camera is too tight, and a number of these action scenes are awkwardly crosscut with other
‘Royale’ was directed by veteran action-man Martin Campbell, and Forster would have done well to follow his lead of wider angles to
actually showcase the stunts and create some sense of spatial consistency.
Forster does however get credit for giving the film a few impressive stylistic touches outside of the action scenes that are unlike anything
we’ve seen in a Bond film. And despite the overabundance of action, Forster does direct a few poignant dramatic sequences, and these
are the strength of ‘Quantum.’
It’s hard to believe that I can go this far into the review without mentioning Daniel Craig, but he just doesn’t have as much to work with here
thanks to the screenplay. Craig is still an excellent Bond, however, and when he gets his chances in ‘Quantum,’ he generally does nail them.
In fact the cast is very good all around here, which is really what makes ‘Quantum’ such a conundrum. You can tell there is a lot of talent at
work here, but the end result just doesn’t satisfy as it should.
‘Quantum of Solace’ is far from a bad film, and is even very good at times, but next time around the producers need to find a director that
can not only provide drama, but deliver on action as well, and remind the writers that they are writing a James Bond film and not a Jason
Bourne film. Bond (especially Craig’s Bond) is a far better character than Jason Bourne will ever be, and the Bond team needs to be
reminded of that. After striking such a perfect balance of retro charm and modern action in ‘Casino Royale,’ ‘Quantum of Solace’ comes up
* * 1/2
(out of four)
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric,
Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton
Cinematography by: Roberto Schaefer
Music by: David Arnold
Released: November 14, 2008; 106 Minutes