Luke Quantrill Reviews Quantum of Solace
A crucial moment for any James Bond actor is what I hilariously like to
call the 'Hotel Lobby' test. Can he waltz into a Hotel, look James Bond
suave/spiffy, exchange a suggestive look/comment with a female member
of staff AND make you laugh without actually doing or saying an awful
lot? Sean Connery passes this test with room to spare and so does Roger
Moore. Pierce Brosnan passes this test and so does George Lazenby at a
stretch. It's debatable if Timothy Dalton passes this test, I think he
just about does, but Daniel Craig, to my eyes, doesn't. If the Hotel
Lobby test required him to kill and torture the staff, stab the bellhop
and blow the Hotel to smithereens he'd pass with flying colours. Rest
assured that throughout Quantum Of Solace you are never more than seven
seconds away from Daniel Craig putting someone's head through a window
or driving a speedboat into a skyscraper. It's like an episode of TJ
Hooker expanded by thirty minutes and allocated a budget of $200
million. But congratulations nonetheless to Eon for making one of the
silliest James Bond films of all time. In a series famed for underwater
cars, giants with steel teeth and Denise Richards playing a nuclear
physicist that takes some doing. Let's not downplay that achievement.
It makes Casino Royale look like a Dogme film about a Norwegian man who
can't decide whether or not to mow his lawn.
In Quantum Of Solace Mathieu Amalric plays villain Dominic Greene.
Greene is staging a coup over water rights. If I'd been paying any
attention whatsoever to this plot strand, explained by some riveting
scenes involving Greene mumbling to some Army types in a Spanish
timeshare villa, I'd elaborate. Meanwhile, James Bond is still smarting
from that building shrinking at the end of Casino Royale and the rash
on his neck from that ill-fitting suit. He resolves to kill as many
people as possible while M follows him around the world in a hot air
Pointlessly, there is no gun barrel sequence at the start of Quantum Of
Solace. They should seriously consider a 'Spot The Gun Barrel'
competition next time. I predict that it will appear about halfway
through the next film after Daniel Craig has strangled someone in a
laundrette with a pair of Y-fronts. Another thing absent from Quantum
Of Solace is the James Bond theme. Heaven forbid that anyone should
leave the cinema feeling like they've just seen a James Bond film. That
would just be stupid. The migraine inducing car chase that begins
Quantum Of Solace gives you a fair warning of what to expect in this
film. Daniel Craig grimaces and pulls all manner of funny faces as he
bumps around in his car and no shot lasts for more than 1 second. Who
is chasing him? What is going on? Search me squire. I wouldn't say
Quantum Of Solace ever becomes unbearably boring but then neither does
being locked in a broom cupboard with a pack of chimpanzees who have
drunk too much caffeine.
The editing is a BIG problem in this film. As someone who is capable of
paying attention to an image or shot for more than 5 seconds I quickly
established that this film wasn't made for me. Who exactly it was made
for is another question. Thirteen year-olds with ADD who think 'Crank'
is a better film than 'Lawrence Of Arabia'?
Jack White's theme song is still the sonic equivalent of being smashed
in the groin with a tennis racket. It really is just openly taking the
piss and the titles, by MI2K, are not very exciting. It's like the
opening to a wacky children's television show from the seventies but
featuring an animated Daniel Craig loitering around looking for more
people to maim or stab.
In Quantum Of Solace Daniel Craig's hilarious Bond character is
constantly running after someone or killing someone or chasing someone
or knifing someone or beating up people taller than himself. Again and
again he leaps into action looking for someone to kill or headbutt.
He's his usual self with his monotone actor voice, for some unknown
reason slipping into mockney a couple of times. The film could be about
a rabies outbreak on Merseyside or killer monkeys in the Congo and it
would make no difference to old laughing boy. He makes Timothy Dalton
look like Michael Winslow and resembles a cross between Norman Mailer
and that bloke who played Jim Hutton's Dad on Ellery Queen. He is the
"Did you spill my pint?" Bond.
While a few segments of the film are in broad key with this puckered
RoboBond oaf, other sections are completely bonkers. Sometimes I sat in
sheer wonder at how ridiculous this film was. At times it approaches
the gleeful absurdity of a Transporter but those films wink to the
audience. They are fun. They are meant to be comically high-octane and
silly. Jason Statham does not scan the BAFTA shortlist for his name.
Quantum Of Solace wants desperately to be admired. It tries to be
serious. The 'serious' bits of this film remind you of those Channel 4
Comic Strip spoofs where Al Pacino would be cast as Arthur Scargill. At
its most absurd Quantum Of Solace is like one of those bargain basement
Hong Kong action films you get thrown in when you buy a cheap DVD
There are some sudden down to earth images in Quantum Of Solace like
Bond meeting M in a spartan London tower block. Ah, the glamour of
Bond. We should be thankful they didn't give the villain a sewage works
as a base. But now the inside of the MI6 building looks like the
holodeck on Star Trek. I half expected Mr Data to walk through dressed
as Sherlock Holmes. The oddly random shots of the Palio horse race
inserted into the film add to the strange atmosphere of Quantum Of
Solace and give the impression of a film edited in a train toilet
against a ticking clock. Maybe it was. Perhaps Marc Forster locked
himself in the toilet on the 9:08 to Victoria with a can of Fanta and a
packet of Wotsits.
I need hardly add that the influence of Jason Bourne is depressingly
evident in this film. Message to EON: Stop trying to turn Bond into
Jason Bourne. They are, believe it or not, actually, you know,
The goggle-eyed villain didn't register a great deal in Quantum Of
Solace. I really had zero interest in old Mathieu, whatever he was
doing. It was something to do with water, right? Meanwhile, Gemma
Arterton has a rubbish Mary Goodnight type character who is sent to
bring in the 'renegade' Bond. Eh? The Justice League couldn't bring in
this indestructible nutcase Bond. Bond seduces Fields by asking her to
help him look for some stationary. The old charmer. What a smoothie.
"Excuse me my dear...I seem to have lost my favourite biro. Could you
help me look for it? Perhaps later we could look at my collection of
vintage pencil cases."
Gemma is in the film for 23 seconds altogether which is nice work if
you can get it. Olga Kurylenko is your stock Bond girl, running around
a lot and doing interviews about how her character is not like previous
Bond girls but tough and independent and feisty etc, yawn, etc. Judi
Dench is just happy to be here again like Joe Bugner in a big title
fight and Jeffrey Wright reprises his 33 second cameo as a slightly
tubby and inactive Felix Leiter.
There are 'homages' scattered through the film. Goldfinger, The Spy Who
Loved Me, and Moonraker. The end reminded me a lot of Scaramanga's lab
being blown up at the end of The Man With The Golden Gun. The parachute
drop is without doubt the nadir of Quantum Of Solace. Bond falls from
an aeroplane in fake/CGI form. He hits the ground and we cut to the
real Daniel Craig dusting himself off without a single scratch upon his
affect. You know things are bad when you've started to steal from The
Benny Hill Show!
What Quantum Of Solace lacks is charm, 'charm' not being a very
important word at Eon these days. 'Badassery!' is probably more of a
demographic buzz word to them. Now Bond uses human-shields (sadly not
in a witty Thunderball way) and stabs someone before watching him die
like Jason Voorhees. He has two facial expressions in the whole film
and looks like he'd be more at home in a luminous orange safety vest
than a tuxedo. You wouldn't sit next to him on a bus.
Somewhere in between Pierce Brosnan driving an invisible car and Daniel
Craig stabbing people to death there must be a third way. My
suggestion, not that anyone ever listens, would be to go back to films
more in the vein of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Living
Daylights. Stylish films that are recognisably James Bond films.
Take away the Bond theme, a traditional James Bond actor, the witty
lines, the fun, the sense of wonder and scope, Q, Moneypenny, gadgets,
a snazzy Binderesque title sequence, a great music composer, colourful
villains, and that delicate nudge of iconic camp and what are you left
A rubbish action film starring Daniel Craig.
Can someone please bring back James Bond?
- Luke Quantrill