Being a rather geeky James Bond fan I was very much looking forward to the Quantum of Solace.
After the re-incarnation of James Bond in Casino Royale, which kept pretty much authentic to the original plot and character in Ian Fleming’s novel, I had high hopes for QoS.
What a disappointment.
Unlike the edgy, exhilarating and well-shot action scenes in Casino Royale, the action scenes in QoS were a bit far fetched at best, and for most parts, completely unwatchable at worst. Unfortunately, it seems the Director and Editor had taken the comparison with the Jason Bourne films to heart and decided to follow this latest ridiculous trend of shooting scenes with a shaky hand-held camera and over-editing the scenes so much that the angle of shot changes with nearly every frame. The result is you can’t make out what’s going on.
I can imagine that in 10 years time we’ll look back at this period in film-making and think ‘what was that all about? Who on earth thought it was a good idea to shoot big blockbuster action scenes with a hand-held camera and switch between cameras angles so fast that it gives the viewer motion sickness?’. I think Paul Greengrass is a good British directory, and both the last 2 Bourne films which he directed and United 93 are great films, but they’d be even better if we could actually make out what’s going on in the action scenes! Please, please, stop it. There’s a time and a place. For instance, it kind of works in films like Cloverfield. In Cloverfield there’s a reason it’s shot with a hand-held camera. It’s part of the plot, and, it does add something to the reality of the scenes.
Besides the bad editing, QoS also suffers from a rather thin plot. The film is based on a short story written by Fleming, and fleshing a short story out into a feature movie was always going to be difficult. But this just feels like treading water. Bond travels from one exotic location to another with very little rationale for why he’s going there, except to chase down baddies. It was as if the producers picked a few nice locations they wanted to visit in advance of making the film, and then wrote the script to fit around the locations.
One of the best things for me in Casino Royale was the quick and witty dialogue, especially between Bond and the love interest – Vesper Lynd. There’s hardly any of that in QoS. The non-stop action leaves very little time for character building. There’s not much of a love interest either – not a classic one for bond girls! Bond does get his end away with one civil servant, who incidentally meets a sticky end covered in oil, reminiscent of that famous scene in Goldfinger. Her death is obviously a reference to Goldfinger where the character ‘Jill Masterson’ is killed and covered in gold paint. The bond franchise seems to be trying to send a message – the currency of power in the early Bonds was gold and diamonds, whereas in 2008 the currency of power is oil. QoS is that un-memorable that I can’t even remember if he kisses the bond girl who survives to the end.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a complete disaster. QoS is still better than the average action film. Daniel Craig makes a great James Bond and Judie Dench continues to do a good job as ‘M’. The action scenes where the camera stays still for a few seconds are really good. It’s certainly better than the later Pierce Brosnan bond films where some of the action got preposterously far-fetched. Mind you, surviving a fall out of an airplane where his parachute only opened 10 metres off the ground, and running through a building engulfed in flames without getting even his eyebrows singed, was pushing it a little in QoS.
In summary, watchable, but not a classic.