We all have those few movies that everyone seems to constantly hate on whilst we sit quietly, or not so quietly in some cases, reassuring ourselves that it’s ok that we really enjoy them. Well for me, amongst many others, Quantum of Solace (QoS) fits this brief. Daniel Craig’s second outing as James Bond was not received well and is often the victim of much criticism online. With hoards of Spectre reviews circulating at the minute, although mixed views are being expressed, one thing that fans are all agreeing on is that Quantum of Solace sucked. I disagree and believe that every movie is due a defense so this post will explain why I love Quantum of Solace.
I’m the first to admit that QoS has it’s problems. It’s too short often skimping on dialogue in the place of action, it’s villain isn’t very memorable, that extra who doesn’t know how to brush and then there was Strawberry Fields. Yeah the less said about her the better, although I was a fan of that Goldfinger tribute. Anyway less about why you guys all hate it and more on why I love it.
The opening credits are sandwiched between two of my favourite action sequences of the Bond era. I love the way the film starts panning almost silently across the water easing the viewer into a furious car chase which boasts the kind of ferocity that Sam Mendes’ latest efforts through the alleyways of Rome could not achieve. Then immediately after the opening credits the action just won’t let up as after the beginning of a interesting interrogation of Mr. White and the revelation of a deep double agent a thrilling foot chase commences. I’m partial to a chase on foot, these usually end up being some of my favourite sequences in Bond. Unfortunately, much of the beginning of this chase is plagued by the use of shaky cam but this quickly subsides. The sequence ends in a climatic fist fight amongst some scaffolding, this scene was very creative and still impresses me after so many watches. Let’s not forget the filling though – the opening credits are accompanied by one of my favourite Bond themes ever. The wonderfully daring ‘Another Way To Die’ by Jack White and Alicia Keys. This theme was divisive to say the least but its bold, brave and exciting feel matches the action heavy narrative of the film.
The appearance from Mr. White in the first sequence meant that QoS was very clearly following on from the events of the brilliant Casino Royale. In said film many questions were raised and they weren’t all answered. QoS gives us some of those answers. Whilst simultaneously answering questions and offering closure on the whole Vesper chapter the film also leaves the story open for more development, as we’ve seen more recently in Spectre. The themes dealt with in QoS mean that the film is low on laughs and is more serious and rightly so. Bond is looking for answers and parallel to his search comes a fantastic Bond girl in the shape of Olga Kurylenko’s Camille who is out for revenge. Similarly to Bond she too is looking to sooth her pain caused by the past, the pair compliment each other and contribute to the tone of the film. It’s satisfying to watch Camille settle her score and thankfully not succumb to Bond’s charm and go to bed with him which I wouldn’t have put past Bond but it would have been completely distasteful. So Camille ended up being a refreshingly distinct Bond girl avoiding the usual cliches and adding to the character and performance of Bond. More of Judi Dench’s M and Jeffery Right’s Felix Leiter is also welcome in the film, successfully building some of Bond’s other relationships set aside from the women he is planning to bed.
As well as Mr. White the film’s main villain is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and I admit that compared to the likes of Le Chiffre and Silva he pails in comparison. Greene has his moments though and anyway this film is more about Bond overcoming his demons than any villain and Greene isn’t overpowering in a way that would have prevented or distracted from that. Greene does provide us with a final fist fight between him and Bond, something that I don’t think happens enough between these roles and this suits the films heavy emphasis on action. I don’t think Greene was ever meant to be that menacing though, it’s the people behind him that are the real threat and this is conveyed in the film well. Anyway as I said I like that he puts up a physical fight in the finale and his demise is particularly cruel when you really think about it proving satisfying for both Bond and his audience.
Even though I would happily substitute one of the films action sequences for some scenes with enthralling dialogue and more tension there isn’t a single action sequence in QoS that I don’t like. I’ve already commented on how much I enjoy the early action scenes in the film and this only continues with more fist fights, boat mayhem, planes and parachute and a memorable night at the opera. Always accompanying this action is the blooming brilliant score from David Arnold, one of my favourites of the series. He also successfully scores the softer moments of the film too being equally as memorable and effective as the big blockbuster moments. The score and main theme song mean that the music in QoS is always in the running for my favourite thing about this movie.
So with all this in mind is Quantum of Solace really that bad? Following Casino Royale and improving in quality was probably impossible so when compared to it and Skyfall I understand the stark contrast. However, I can’t simply dismiss this entry into the series either, I enjoy it so much and not in a kind of way that I enjoy The Man With The Golden Gun. Quantum of Solace is important for the progression of the Daniel Craig era and whilst it does this in a short but serious fashion it’s successful in producing an exciting and interesting spin on the usual Bond film. I urge you to give the film a second chance, you may just find something to enjoy that you missed before. If not I’ll most likely be taking refuge in the middle of the desert, much like Greene, avoiding the angry mob that is most likely forming!