Saturday, 13 October 2012

Quantum of Solace (2008)

A last and a first. The last 007 film that we already knew before Blogalongabond started, and the first ever true Bond sequel. Starting immediately after the events of Casino Royale, we see a battered and bruised Mr White stuffed in the boot of Bond’s car, as 007 tries to track down the organisation responsible for the death of Vespa. Overall QOS is a very fun film; brooding Daniel Craig, tremendous action and enough intrigue to hold your attention. I feel where it falls down is the lack of tangible villain. Of course the bad guy is actually Quantum; essentially SPECTRE for the 21st century. The trouble is, Mr Greene is no LeChiffre.

The very beginning has some lovely touches: slowly zooming into the mountain, intercut with glimpses of chrome, Aston Martin and Bond’s eyes before BANG we’re into a frenetic car chase. Actually this chase sets the tempo for a lot of the set pieces in the film; all of them are very energetic and tremendously exciting. The chase through Sienna, climaxing on the scaffolding is amazing and really brutal. Though further along the line, I can’t decide whether I like the way that the crescendo of the opera is cut with 007 taking out Quantum stooges in Zurich. No doubt it’s stylish, but I’m not sure it really works.

007 is perhaps even more bullish and arrogant than in Casino Royale, and he has no compunction about executing ex-coworkers, special forces or Bolivian Police. Daniel Craig continues to suit this hard-nose character perfectly. Though Jesper Christensen’s role as Mr White is very brief, I thought he was completely brilliant; superbly maniacal as he laughs that “You don’t know anything about us at all!” If only he’d been the main antagonist rather than a wishy washy Mr Greene.

The women are a bit rubbish. Camille isn’t really much of a bond girl (she only gets a kiss right at the end); instead she has her own revenge story to mirror Bond’s, which is a nice twist to a Bond girl’s character. Fields is even more pointless, her only function seems to be so that a nod can be made to Jill Masterson’s demise in Goldfinger. The trouble is, it’s not worth it! All that results is that M has even more contempt for Bond’s style, but I hardly think this is the pinnacle of Quantum’s machinations! The only woman worth her salt is Judi Dench; M is still a hard-ass with some great lines: “When someone says "We've got people everywhere", you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room! “

The title song is cool, but the credit sequence is far too involved; there is so much going on it’s hard to make out any kind of narrative or symbolism. Worst of all there is no gun barrel anywhere near the beginning, it’s tacked on the end as if it was forgotten about and then suddenly discovered on the cutting room floor. Just in time for some lift music over the closing credits! In fact, I felt that David Arnold’s score was mostly invisible (or inaudible?) throughout the film.

Not as spectacular as the previous film, but still maintaining the gritty, brutal themes of Daniel Craig’s 007; Quantum of Solace continues the quality of the “reboot”. At least for one more film the self-parody is still absent and the realism is still there (unshielded hydrogen cells in every hotel room notwithstanding!). I can just see the brochure for the hotel: Come and visit the Perla des las Dunas. En suite bathrooms, minibar, free wifi, and a serious explosion risk in every room!

Order of Preference so far: