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 balloon.

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 player.

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, different characters.

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 with?

A rubbish action film starring Daniel Craig.

Can someone please bring back James Bond?

- Luke Quantrill


c 2008 Alternative 007