The James Bond Rewatch: QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)

If Casino Royale was a love story then Quantum of Solace is a revenge flick, showing a ruthless 007 that’s often more Jason Bourne than James Bond.

Featuring one of the weirder titles of the entire series and marked as a letdown at the time of its release, Quantum of Solace is much maligned but does it deserve its bad reputation?

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Directed by Marc Forster, with Daniel Craig as James Bond (for the 2nd time)

The Theme Song: “Another Way to Die” performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys

“Another Way to Die” is the first Bond music duet and a really cool idea, but the end result doesn’t live up its promise. Jack White’s an unconventional choice and his vocals stick out (in a bad way) compared to Keys’ more classical voice. They each get to contribute a riff using their signature instruments (guitar and piano respectively), but it’s the horns section that steals the show in this mid-tempo number that’s forgettable and doesn’t really connect as a Bond theme.

The Plot

Quantum of Solace does something no previous Bond film has attempted and acts as a direct sequel to its predecessor, picking up mere minutes after Casino Royale. James is whipping down a winding Italian road with Mr. White (who’s responsible for Vesper Lynd’s death) in his trunk. He’s seeking to interrogate White for more info on the shadowy criminal organization Quantum, but before James can get to the torturin’ a leak in MI6 security allows White to escape.

Quantum of Solace James Driving

Bond doing his thing: drivin’ and scowlin’

Quantum of Solace wastes no time (and in fact can’t as the shortest Bond film yet), rushing headlong into a globe-trotting chase that finds Bond uncovering Quantum’s plot to control the water supply of Bolivia. That idea is inspired by the classic film Chinatown, though the movies that Quantum of Solace share the most DNA with are the Jason Bourne trilogy. Carrying over the idea of Craig’s Bond as more grounded, Quantum is far less fantastical than Bonds of previous eras and is more about brutal violence and political machinations than the typical kiss kiss bang bang fun.

James The Fighter

Marc Forster opted not to give villain Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) any physical deformities, as his normal appearance was meant to symbolize the hidden evils in society. Unfortunately Greene has no real distinguishing qualities at all, other than Almaric’s batshit crazy fighting style (he screeches like a banshee while swinging an axe). As a Bond villain Greene is a dud, having been scrubbed of the usual “charming madman” traits. His main henchman (named Elvis) is even worse, a guy notable only for his laughably bad bowl cut.

 

Quantum of Solace Mathieu Amalric

Mathieu Amalric as the lemur-like Dominic Greene

Thankfully Quantum features some hard-hitting and brutal action to counterbalance its bland plot and villains. The post-opening credits foot chase and a violent hotel room brawl are both heavily indebted to Jason Bourne (which makes sense as the 2nd unit director also worked on the Bourne films). A plane chase brings back some of the goofy fun of Bonds of yore, though it never really reaches a fever pitch. While the ending (at a hydrogen-powered hotel in the middle of the desert) produces some startling images but underwhelms with its lack of scale.

James The Lover

Olga Kurylenko plays Camille Montes, a woman whose family was murdered at the hands of General Medrano (another bland villain) and is, like Bond, fuelled by revenge. She reluctantly joins forces with James to achieve their similar goals, as they hunt down Greene and Medrano together. Camille’s most like Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin character from Tomorrow Never Dies, in that they’re both steely ass-kickers who share an almost platonic relationship with James. In fact, Camille might represent the most chaste relationship that Bond’s ever had with a leading lady (outside of Judi Dench’s M) – instead of falling in love they barely tolerate each other and certainly don’t have sex.

Quantum of Solace Olga

Olga Kurylenko’s Camille learning to take the shot and embrace revenge

Gemma Arterton appears as MI6 agent Strawberry Fields (har har) and represents Bond’s only romantic tryst throughout the entire film. Unfortunately James still has a poison penis, and after sleeping with Bond Fields suffers a death-by-oil in a clear homage to Goldfinger. The ghost of Vesper Lynd hangs over the whole movie, to the point that Bond’s ally Mathis says: “Vesper – she gave everything for you. Forgive her, forgive yourself.” So while Bond doesn’t forge much of a connection with Camille or Fields, it could be due to the fact that he’s still grieving Vesper (which never stopped him in the past, but again Daniel Craig’s Bond is meant to be more realistic).

Iconic Moments

  • Much of what’s memorable about Quantum comes in the form of some eye-catching imagery: a stunning opera in Austria, a stark Bolivian desert, gorgeous Italian vistas
  • Felix Leiter appears again, promoted within the CIA by the end of the movie but sadly forgotten in subsequent films
  • Bond’s frenemy Mathis suffers a violent death and though James cradles him as he dies he later throws the body in a dumpster, showing the dual compassion/coldness that Craig made his trademark
  • Quantum ends with Bond finding Vesper’s former lover, the man effectively responsible for her death. Instead of killing him Bond leaves the man to the authorities, ready to fight another die for MI6 as he leaves Vesper’s necklace in the snow

The Verdict

Though it has the forward momentum of a freight train, Quantum of Solace is quite dour and suffers most in comparison to the far superior Casino Royale. Considering that the movie was essentially re-written on the fly by Craig and Forster due to the 2008 writer’s strike, the end result is quite watchable and has some thrilling action. It’s possibly the most violent Bond movie yet (rivalling Licence to Kill) and mirrors that film’s lust for revenge and lack of reverence for tradition. It’s not perfect but it gets the job done and doesn’t overstay its welcome, allowing Craig’s cold-blooded killer Bond to do what he does best – kick some ass.

Updated Rankings

  1. Casino Royale
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. Goldfinger
  4. Dr. No
  5. Goldeneye
  6. The Living Daylights
  7. The Spy Who Loved Me
  8. You Only Live Twice
  9. Live and Let Die
  10. For Your Eyes Only
  11. Thunderball
  12. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  13. Licence to Kill
  14. Quantum of Solace
  15. The Man with The Golden Gun
  16. The World Is Not Enough
  17. A View to a Kill
  18. Tomorrow Never Dies
  19. Moonraker
  20. Octopussy
  21. Diamonds Are Forever
  22. Die Another Day

James Bond will return in Skyfall

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