Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes
Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene
Judi Dench as M
Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Director: Marc Forster
Following the death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond (Daniel Craig) makes his next mission personal. The hunt for those who blackmailed his lover leads him to ruthless businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a key player in the organization which coerced Vesper. Bond learns that Greene is plotting to gain total control of a vital natural resource, and he must navigate a minefield of danger and treachery to foil the plan.
I had been meaning to re-watch Quantum of Solace for some time, with Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie coming out next year (or at least it was before it was delayed). Some people really hated the movie, and I didn’t really know why. Many years ago I did watch Quantum of Solace but I don’t remember much of the movie, so I decided to rewatch it to see how I would find it. While I don’t think it’s terrible, I can see why a lot of people don’t really like it. Quantum of Solace has some high points but his significantly held back by an average script and action scenes with bad editing.
One of the biggest flaws with Quantum of Solace is the script by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, which really isn’t good. From what I can tell, director Mark Forster wanted to make the political circumstances in the story to be more realistic. That is why the film focussed on the global issue of the environment. While that concept might work for a political thriller, I’m not quite sure if it would quite work for Bond, and I’m someone who’s in favour for the Bond franchise to do new things in order to keep things fresh. I will give credit to them however for trying something new instead of having another Generic Evil Mastermind tries to take over world and instead trying to further set it into reality. It might’ve actually worked but taking a huge risk like this with a character and franchise like James Bond, it needs to be done in the right way to make it work, but the way it’s done here just falls flat. Odd direction of story aside, the main reason that the script has so many problems was the writer’s strike. Apparently at the time, they had a bare bones of a script and they couldn’t hire writers to finish it because of the writer’s strike, so Daniel Craig and Marc Forster had to work on it and do rewrites themselves during filming. Even Craig said that the film shouldn’t have started filming until the script was completed. Knowing all that after watching Quantum of Solace, everything makes sense now. As previously mentioned, the story is not that interesting, you don’t really care much about the characters or the story. The characters are particularly underdeveloped, the initial ideas of the characters were a good starting point but not good characters in the final product. It’s also not entirely easy to follow either, Bond films are almost always easy to follow but I got lost many times. In the end I just gave up on trying to figure out what entirely is going on. The film does bring up and ties up the Vesper and boyfriend storyline from Casino Royale (until Spectre brought it back up yet again) but it really didn’t feel necessary bringing that plotline back in the first place. The first movie seemingly tied up the plotline but most of all, that plotline is only slightly relevant to the plot in Quantum of Solace, like the main plot wasn’t going to bring up Vesper and all that as much originally but they added it in later on (with all the rewrites that’s entirely possible). This movie is actually short for a Daniel Craig Bond film, at about an hour 40 minutes long but it feels about 2 hours long. The length isn’t really an issue though, the writing itself was more the issue.
The best part about the movie is Daniel Craig, who once again gives it his all as James Bond, whether that be with the action scenes or the acting. With that said, there are some aspects of Bond here which feel lacking as a character (writing related). That can be said for pretty much all the characters. Olga Kuryenlko plays the “Bond Girl” in the movie and was decent enough in her role. She has a plotline about getting revenge on another character (which clearly parallels what’s happening with Bond after the events of Casino Royale) that works fine enough but wasn’t anything great. The villain Dominic Greene played by Mathieu Amalric is rather weak and not that good. Well, nothing about him is bad per se. It’s just that he’s not menacing, he’s not interesting, he’s not threatening, but most of all he’s forgettable. Even if he was annoying at least he would’ve been somewhat memorable, but you don’t really have any emotional feeling towards him at all. His plot and him as a character isn’t terrible but it feels like he’s a character from a different film that somehow ended up in a Bond film. Amalric does at least try his best with his role and out of all the main Daniel Craig Bond villains, he’s the only one so far who does physically take him on. Aside from that, there’s not much about Greene that works as a villain in a James Bond film. I think if he at least had a henchman who was an actual threat to Bond, that would’ve made up for it. With all that being said, rewatching the movie recently however, he does actually feel like a real character and while he wasn’t the best villain for Bond to be paired with, he was alright, albeit underwhelming. Amalric also does put everything he can into his role. Maybe it’s just rewatching Spectre that makes me appreciate Greene a lot more. Returning actors Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright are pretty good in their returning roles, though Wright as Felix Leiter does seem out of place as he doesn’t really do much (apparently early in the script he was meant to have a much bigger role but the re-writes cut down his role immensely). Other actors like Gemma Arteton and David Harbour are fine in their roles but they don’t really get to do much.
Marc Forster is a solid director, giving us movies like Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner, and with Quantum of Solace… the outcome was quite mixed. A lot of the movie is well filmed, it looks good, the locations are great and the setups to the action sequences look good. Interesting side note is that it really ups the violence, making it one of the most violent movies in the franchise (it’s between this and Licence to Kill). With all that potential, it would’ve been even better if we could’ve actually properly seen these action sequences. However, the hyperactive editing absolutely ruins these scenes, making some sequences that would otherwise be great, at times unwatchable. The only action scene not affected by this is a plane action sequence, which had the perfect editing for that scene and wasn’t jarring in the slightest. With a lot of the action scenes however, I couldn’t watch it for too long because sometimes it literally hurt to try to watch it. You just couldn’t tell what was happening a lot of the time. While the writer’s strike definitely affected the movie negatively, I’m not sure what happened with the editing. The editing for the rest of the movie was fine.
Quantum of Solace is a very mixed bag. On one hand, the setups to the action scenes are good, some of the story had some potential, some scenes are good and Daniel Craig is still great as James Bond. On the other hand, the action scenes don’t pay off because of the bad editing and the script is lacklustre and doesn’t feel complete. They really shouldn’t have gone ahead with filming until they absolutely nailed down the script beforehand. It’s disappointing that this movie didn’t turn out as well as it should’ve, it’s just not that memorable unfortunately. Still, I don’t think it’s bad but it’s not really a movie I will be revisiting (or remembering for that matter) any time soon.