Quantum of Solace: quantifiably shambolic

Watching Quantum of Solace is as thrilling as walking through a boiling, barren desert. In a suit.

Spoiler warning: There isn’t much of a story to be revealed anyway, but if you still want to watch this film (which I strongly advise against – for your sake not mine), then stop reading now.

I’m not much of a cinema person (I don’t even watch many films unless they’ve been out for years and achieved near-classic status). The whole idea seems like a complete waste of money to me. Yet last night I thought it might be nice to go back for the first time after about 3 and a half years to watch the latest James Bond film – Quantum of Solace. Even though I hated Casino Royale, I guess I bought into the hype, and in some sort of false hope, felt that this film might actually be better. After subjecting my eyes to 106 minutes of torture, I can say that I was most certainly wrong.

Why this was a bad Bond film

Now, I was disappointed when Pierce Brosnan was relieved of Bond duties, and horrified when I saw his replacement. Since then though, I have seen other Daniel Craig films, and have come to the conclusion that the guy is a very talented actor. However, he is still not the right person to play James Bond. Bond was supposed to be suave, sophisticated and intelligent about his trade. Craig’s depiction of him seems to make him into some sort of grizzly and crude hard man who solves problems by force – and his appearance doesn’t help him to much in this respect either. Most of the film sees him thugging away rather than doing anything clever.

There were no tricks, no gadgets – nothing that typifies a James Bond film was present here. Sony had their product placement plastered all over this – and it’s clear to me now that the film was just a huge marketing channel. But no technology was used to any great effect. In fact, they even ripped off Minority Report’s floating screens which was just plain tacky.

The sense of humour was minimal. I guess most of that is down to the terrible writing – there didn’t seem to be much meaningful dialogue around at all. But for the few quips that were present, Craig’s delivery was as grim as a death announcement. The cheeky charm that James Bond brings to the table is nowhere to be found. In fact, half of the dialogue just made reference to Casino Royale.

Did I mention 90% of the film consisted of random action sequences that made no sense whatsoever? They seemed pointless and you are left completely unaware as to what is going on, because there is nothing to link the sequences. “Action scene – warp to different country – action scene – warp to another country” is the order of the day.

Plot wise, Bond films have always been predictable. They have the same formula – but that’s okay – that’s what gives it its own unique appeal. You know there is a main antagonist that Bond finds and kills, and a few girls that he sleeps with in the process. But for the best Bond films, it’s the journey that leads him there that builds suspense and excitement. Bond goes through and uncovers information in innovative ways as the story progresses. A sense of urgency is created, and you actually care about the outcome. Often, the main villain is revealed later in the film. Other times, Bond is led on a red-herring trail and the real villain is not who was originally suspected.

Again, any intelligence in the story has disappeared in QoS. Some guy is buying land to create a drought. Bond has to stop him. In theory, this could have been a typical Bond story, and it could have been done quite well. But it wasn’t. The main antagonist – Greene – is so insignificant, you can hardly believe it when he turns out to be the main focal point of the film. I kept wondering when something exciting would happen. I thought that maybe Greene would die and it would be revealed that there is a higher power involved with a bigger agenda. Nope. In fact, I didn’t realise that the final scene was actually the final scene until the credits started rolling and I was left confused – as if someone had randomly slapped me in the face whilst I was walking down a street.

During this insanely uneventful main storyline, there were insanely uneventful side stories. Bond wanted revenge for what happened in Casino Royale, and therefore spends most of the film whining about it without really seeming like he gives a damn. Also the token female was just that – a token. There was very little point of her being in the film. She had her own story which didn’t relate to anything else and which you didn’t care about either. She just happened to be there. And I really wanted her to go away.

Why this was a bad film in general

Even though I thought Casino Royale was a bad Bond film – in that it didn’t have the typical qualities that I described earlier – it was still a decent film in itself – if you forget that it has anything to do with James Bond and drop any pre-conceptions.

QoS, on the other hand, is dire. As I mentioned, the film is 90% action. This might sound like a good thing – but there is so little dialogue and indication of what is going on that you get completely lost. You empathise very little with any of the characters. The story was not clever, there was no tension, there were no surprises. The end is a huge anti-climax. All the principles that filmmakers adhere to make their film watchable and enjoyable were thrown out of the window.

Oh, and the horrid title song by Jack White and Alicia Keys made me angry before the film even got started. It sounded like two kids trying to imitate their favourite pop stars so they can record it and put it on YouTube.

The feeling you get after watching Quantum of Solace is one of confusion, followed by the inability to remember what you’d been doing for the last one and a half hours.

I’m not usually one for scores at the end of reviews, but I’ll leave you with an apt quote from my good friend Mr Fonz:

“Out of 10, I would give it 0.07”

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