Director: Mark Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Judi Dench, Mathieu Almaric
What’s it about? Bond’s need to get closure for the death of his lover Vesper (see Casino Royale), sees him on a rampage to uncover the truth of what really happened to her. Along the way, he must put a stop to Dominic Greene, a tycoon who has formed a deal with the equally evil General Medrano, in a bid to take over the world’s water supply.
This time round, Bond, both the man and the movie, are presented quite differently, incorporating many different ideas, but ultimately losing touch with what Bond is all about. The action scenes have been compared by many to those of the Bourne movies, particularly an early sequence which shows Bond jumping across rooftops. The fast-paced editing gives us the illusion that such action scenes are highly impressive but truth be told, it’s difficult to see what’s going on and whether any of it makes sense! When it’s not fast and Bourne-ish, it has a distinctly melodramatic feel; fights are intercepted with falling bowls of fruit or dashing horses, and we are even treated to a silent kitchen killing spree, none of which is too surprising when you consider that the director, Mark Forster, is responsible for ‘The Kite Runner‘, itself a moving drama, and the imaginative ‘Finding Neverland‘.
Forster’s dramatic influences (the blood red bowl of cherries and the bright kitchen flames) lend us the only splashes of colour in settings that are mostly cold and clinical. Bond wanders through dusty deserts and sterile offices, and his brief trip through the blue waters of Italy is just a teasing reminder of the more exotic locations we have witnessed in previous movies. Bond himself, however, is just as cold as these settings, for on his quest of revenge, he has lost much of the charm and humour we had come to associate with 007 in the first place. Instead he acts like a thug, mindlessly battering every guy he comes across. This transformation is safely explained, as M constantly reminds us, by his mourning for and confusion concerning Vesper, and his desperation to find closure. But that doesn’t make the film any more enjoyable and you can’t help wishing for a return to form and a dash more glamour.
It has to be said that while it is the norm to view a Bond movie as a film in itself, it would be worth watching Casino Royale before going to Quantum of Solace, so dependant is this movie on the backstory of the first. With Bond still haunted by Vesper’s demise, there’s a lack of emphasis on character development here; the criminals Greene (Mathieu Almaric from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio) are only obstacles in the way of Bond’s true goal while Gemma Arterton’s Agent Fields is left with little to do except soothe Bond’s desires. More interesting are his relationships with Camille (Kurylenko), who proves to be his female equivalent due to her own personal revenge vendetta, and M with whom he creates much mother/son banter.
While Quantum of Solace has flaws aplenty, I don’t mean to sound too harsh. It is a fun movie to watch as it still allows us to delve into this world of spies and secret agents which is always appealing. It’s also worth going to see in the cinema because, as you can imagine, those explosions and action scenes would not make half as much impact on TV. For these reasons alone, I’m glad I went to see it, although, I’m ashamed to say, I still have only a vague idea what the title means…