Skyfall is out! What better way to celebrate than to look back…
Here is a review from Robert Mann.
Quantum of Solace *****
Following up Casino Royale, the fantastic 2006 reinvention of the James Bond franchise, was always going to be an extremely daunting task. That film was widely regarded as a masterpiece on its release, and rightfully so, so it understandable that topping it would be an extremely difficult, or perhaps even impossible thing to do. The second entry in the reinvented Bond franchise, ‘Quantum of Solace’ (which is the first ever Bond film to be a direct sequel rather than a standalone adventure) inevitably suffers from comparisons to its predecessor, being a great film in its own right but failing to live up to the extremely high expectations set by Casino Royale.
Picking up with events one hour after the end of the last film, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has just captured Mr White (Jesper Christensen), a member of the mysterious organisation that Le Chiffre was working for and was responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd, the treasury agent who Bond had fallen for. Bond and M (Judi Dench) learn that the organisation Mr White works for has people everywhere and when they are betrayed by one of their own and White escapes, Bond goes on the pursuit of any lead he can as he attempts to uncover the identities of those behind the organisation. Pursuing a lead, Bond finds himself encountering the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who has her own vendetta. She leads Bond to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric), an environmentalist who is connected to the organisation, which is called Quantum. Bond discovers a plot by Greene and Quantum to take control of one of the worlds most important natural resources by aiding a deposed General in a military coup and finding himself in a minefield of treachery, murder and deceit, he must ally himself with old friends such as Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright) and Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) in order to uncover the truth. As he gets closer to the man responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, however, he must fight his desire for vengeance in order to unravel Greene’s sinister plan and prevent Quantum from getting its way.
Right from the moment the opening credits start it is clear that Quantum of Solace is not going to be a match for its excellent predecessor. The opening animations and theme tune lack are really lacking and fail to set the kind of mood that the basic but effective opening for Casino Royale established. Unfortunately, such disappointment is pretty much present throughout the whole film. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t deliver though. The action sequences, beginning with a fast paced pre-opening credits car chase, are well staged and thrilling, even though director Marc Forster’s lack of experience does show and at times some of them feel more like they belong in a Bourne movie than a Bond one. As with most 007 films, the action is greatly superior to many other action movies around as of late and benefits greatly from the fact that it is (mostly) done for real, but for all the efforts of the production team, the action just lacks the scale and excitement of the action of ‘Casino Royale’. In terms of realism, this film really ups the ante with a real gritty feel that makes everything that happens completely believable, but it is taken so far that the class and sophistication of Casino Royale is lost. Daniel Craig is once again excellent as Bond, proving extremely capable at showing a range of emotions, but he isn’t given nearly as much opportunity this time round. He is backed up by strong performances from both Bond girls. Olga Kurylenko delivers a believable performance as a tortured soul out for revenge, while Gemma Arterton as Agent Strawberry Fields is excellently charming in a role which is far too brief. Again, however, the film falls victim of comparisons to its predecessor which neither Bond girl being even a tiny iota as good as Eva Green was in Casino Royale. This is much the case with the villain also with Mathieu Almaric delivering a strong, believable performance of a rather bland and not very menacing villain that really fails to live up to the character of Le Chiffre. This really is more down to the character and not the performance though. Returning cast members Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright and Jesper Christensen also deliver strong performances. The script is well written with a very good storyline that focuses heavily on Bond’s quest for revenge, but again it does not live up to Casino Royale. Overall,Quantum of Solace is a brilliantly made film (even if director Marc Forster possibly wasn’t the best person for the job) that is sadly not going to be viewed as such by many due to the extremely high expectations that many people have had for it. Viewed on its own terms it is a brilliant entry to the James Bond franchise but as a follow-up to the masterpiece that was Casino Royale it really is hard not to feel sorely disappointed. This is not really a criticism of this film though. Casino Royale was made too good and it was always going to be virtually impossible to live up to such expectations.
NOTE: This is a repost of a review that I wrote for the film back in 2006. If it doesn’t seem as good as many of my other reviews it is simply because my reviewing technique has improved considerably in recent years.