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Quantum of Solace


‘…a boring slog through various clichés of toxic male machismo…’

One of the more astute comments offered recently on this blog was that it’s easy to compare James Bond films to each other because they’re all the f****** same; the boilerplate construction of the Eon productions, and ubiquitous nature of the franchise for kids growing up in the UK in particular, makes connoisseurs of us all. Whether you’re a hardened cineaste or watch a handful of movies a year, you can have an opinion of Connery vs Moore, the best action sequence, the best one-liner; everyone gets to have an opinion, so consensus is rare, but we can all probably agree that Quantum of Solace is arguably the worst Bond film, up there with The Man With the Golden Gun or A View To a Kill on the sh*tlist. It’s a big-budget, high gloss production, so cheapness isn’t the issue; a lack of any real interest in Bond himself by the writing team feels like the real problem here.

‘It’s time to get out,’ says James Bond to another agent who is trapped in the boot of his swanko car; is this really what a supposedly world-beating character like James Bond is meant to be? He’s meant to be blunt and a brute at times, but here he’s just dull and perfunctory. Assuming a deep knowledge of the events and characters of the previous film, the introduction to Daniel Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale, we start in media res with Bond hard driving in an Italian quarry before delivering his precious cargo to M (Judi Dench) who is then betrayed by one of her staff causing the suspect to escape. Returning to London, M and Bond find clues in the double-agent’s apartment that leads Bond to an arms auction disguised as an open-air opera performance of Tosca in Austria, and then to Bolivia to a desert face-off with Mr Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a bad-guy so fey he looks like he couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. Bond only discovers what Mr Greene is up to late in the film, which makes you wonder why Bond is jumping off buildings to resolve a ticking clock issue he doesn’t actually know exists. It turns out Mr Greene is building a dam to drain Bolivia of water; cue shots of locals with corks hanging from their hats turning taps and looking quizzically at drips.

‘I can’t find the stationary, why don’t you come and help me look?’ is another zinger from Bond’s collection of half-cocked English-as-she-is-spoke phrases; bald chat is the one distinctive thing about Marc Forster’s film. Choosing not to direct the action and rely instead on pointless cross-cutting with other events, Forster assembles a selection of elements that shouldn’t be in any James Bond film; my own personal shark jump moment was seeing Bond getting his credit card declined at the airport like a complete throbber. We also see Bond noisily putting a bottle back in a cooler with a clonk and then pouring wine down his throat with all the style of a chimp’s tea party. M is no better; we get to see her bath, as if that’s something that helps, and Dench is saddled with lines like ‘They’ve got people everywhere, florists say that,’; the head of MI-5 surely doesn’t have to reductively explain things to Bond like he’s got zero espionage intel? Can anyone revel in the sexual chemistry between Bond and Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) when she pulls up in her car; “Get in’ she says. ‘What?’ says Bond. ‘Get in,’ she says. ‘Alright.’ says Bond. ‘Sigh,’ says the viewer.

Quantum of Solace does have an underrated theme song, but it’s a boring slog through various clichés of toxic male machismo, badly expressed; fortunately the following Skyfall put the franchise back on track, at least temporarily. But for Bond fans, Quantum of Solace shows how easily Bond can be a bore; shuffling through a series of confusingly shot action sequences, Bond announces himself pointlessly to his surprised enemies with such barely-worth-it bon-mots as ‘I found you through a mutual friend.’ There’s a reason why James Bond mythos, love it or hate it, has endured since the 1950’s, but these qualities are not included in this Quantum leap into the void of inanity.


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    • Love the idea of a stripped down, no bloated Bond film, which was what this was sold as. But with key bits of the story missing, and dialogue that couldn’t be rewritten due to a writers strike, this is as hard to get through as you say.

    • If you take out the humour, the racism, the sexism, the Britishness and everything else that Bond used to represent, there ain’t much left.

        • It went up very fast, would be interested to see if health and safety paperwork were properly filled out. Would be more interesting than Bolivian water control politics.

  1. What? No love for Moonraker or Octopussy as worst Bond ever?

    I can’t remember much of this one except blowing up the bad guy’s lair out in the desert. Isn’t that what happens at the end?

    Olga Kurylenko. I had to check out her filmography. I guess she’s kept busy but I never heard of her after this.

    • It’s easy to sneer at Moore’s dandy Bond, and the cheese is awful, but both the films you mention have some decent action and seemed to work for an audience. The worst ones for me are the ones with no direction or energy. Some of Quantum’s stuff about Bolivian politics would age you prematurely.

      This IS the one we’re the bad guy has a desert lair which blows up in the end, but I can think of at least a few more that end the same way. Maybe he shouldn’t have built his lair from explosives.

      Olga has the usual post-Bond resume of straight to streaming action flicks.

  2. For the record, I did NOT make that astute comment in a previous post.
    I eschew astute comments whenever possible. I find them offensive, racist and entirely un-green. In fact, I will go so far as to state that astute comments will doom the world as know it!

    As for the movie, I have watched random Bond movies when they showed up on Prime but have never watched Blondie Bond and really have zero interest. Too long for one thing.

    And I will agree with Fraggle. Give me Mission Impossible anytime.

  3. Definitely a clunker. I wonder what they’ll do now he’s dead. Now and then I read a discussion on who will be the next Bond, a woman perhaps, Idris Elba perhaps, blah blah, but Bond is dead and I think it’s best to leave him so. I like Ethan Hunt better anyway.

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