Film

Published on October 29th, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart

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Quantum of Solace: Double Oh Grim

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Quantum of Solace is Daniel Craig’s second outing as James Bond and the story follows directly on from the 2006 series reboot Casino Royale.

The Story

The movie jumps straight into the action with a chase through the Italian mountains. Bond has captured a Mr White who M wants to interrogate about a shadowy organisation called Quantum. Unfortunately a double agent allows White to escape and is killed by Bond before he can be questioned. He is then traced to an operation in Haiti where Bond finds the intensely creepy Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) scheming with a deposed Bolivian general to overthrow his government in exchange for land rights. He also meets Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a Bolivian agent with a personal vendetta against General Medrano. After accidentally spoiling her attempt to assassinate the General, Bond follows Greene to Austria where he eavesdrops on Quantum’s nefarious plans. When Bond breaks up the meeting a Special Branch operative is killed. M mistakenly believes Bond is responsible and suspends him. Without access to his MI6 passports Bond is forced to turn to René Mathis his associate from Casino Royale for help getting to Bolivia. Once there Bond seduces one of the local agents, attends a gala dinner for Greene’s cover company and Mathis is killed when he trusts a former contact in the local government. Bond and Camille escape and go to investigate Greene’s recent land purchase. After a dramatic midair chase and plane crash they discover Quantum’s secret, they’re diverting all the country’s water not looking for oil as everyone else believes. After a long walk back out of the desert, the pair are captured by MI6. The local agent has been murdered and coated in oil as a message and reference to the similar scene in Goldfinger. Camille is released and Bond escapes to meet with CIA agent Felix Leiter. The American gives Bond the location of the final meeting where the coup with be finalised- an expensive and surprisingly explosive hotel in the desert. In a fiery action sequence Camille finally gets her revenge, whilst Bond captures Greene, interrogates him about Quantum’s scheme and leaves him to walk out of the desert. Greene’s body is later found with bullet wounds to the head, suggesting that Quantum found him. The film ends with Bond finding Vespa’s boyfriend manipulating a new woman in the same way that got Vespa killed in Casino Royale. For once Bond doesn’t kill him and allows him to be taken in for interrogation.

The Title Sequence And Bond Theme

The title sequence is mostly sand and desert themed to reflect the scenes in the Atacama desert at the end of the film. Whilst there are the usual female silhouettes they seem to be entirely digital and rather harshly rendered which loses some of the odd charm of the old school title sequences. Is there any point in still having the nudey ladies dancing about if they’re just cartoons? I guess I’m just a bit sad that no one has the job of slathering people in vaseline any more. Personally I really like the Jack White & Alicia Keys theme song “Another Way To Die”, in fact its the only one I’ve liked since “Licence to Kill”, but I know I’m in a minority. It isn’t really a proper Bond theme, the title of the film isn’t crammed in there somewhere. Possibly because no one knows what it’s supposed to mean. On that note, I highly recommend this alternative theme song.

The Villain And Their Plan

The main villain is Quantum themselves, with Greene and Mr White being merely the public faces of the shadowy organisation. They’ve used the American preoccupation with oil and lack of interest in South American to persuade the CIA section head for that area that government’s controlled by them will be beneficial. Everyone is convinced that they’re looking for oil, as any proper Bond villain would be, but their real intention is that bit more evil. Their plan is to take control of the world’s supply of fresh water whilst no one is paying attention and under the guise of ecological concern. By the time the wider world notices what they’re doing it will already be too late. Whilst other members of the group – many of them high powered members of governments and security agencies – are revealed in the course of the film, the true scope of the organisation is never made clear.

I really think you people should find a better place to meet.

The Locations

A lot of thought has gone into the treatment of the various locations for Quantum of Solace with a lot of richly coloured shots of the rooftops of Siena in Italy and vast sweeping views of the Atacama Desert in Bolivia. A great deal of time is spent on capturing the sheer desolateness of the desert and the shabby decay of Port Au Prince in Haiti. This then create a great juxtaposition with the luxurious work of the super rich who are interfering with the world for profile. The elaborate opera performance in Austria, the various ostentatious hotels and Mathis’s Italian island castle provide a marvellous contrast with the seedier underworld Bond usually occupies.

The Gadgets

In keeping with the new pared down approach MI6 has really reined in the technology. Well, except for all the giant interactive glass computer screens that can scan things placed on their surface and apparently appear out of every object, from tables to M’s bathroom cabinets. Bond also possesses a phone that can take zoomed photographs clear enough to identify criminals by only a small portion of their face. Quantum are also pretty simplified, giving out gift bags at the opera with disposable ear pieces so they can make their nefarious arrangements without all conspicuously gathering at one location. I’m not sure talking through Tosca is a great idea either though, those opera crowds can get vicious.

Most Inappropriate/Politically Incorrect Moment

Given that Quantum of Solace is quite a recent Bond movies it has avoided a lot of the issues that haunt the older films in the series. However the last few generations of Bond fans, in the UK at least, have grown up with Bond as a weekend early evening staple. The sort of movie you’d watch with the family after on a rainy Bank Holiday weekend. There have been plenty of Bond villains with implied rapey and/or sadistic aspects to their characters. But the sequence with General Madrano assaulting the hotel waitress and oddly framed shot of her crotch before she manages to escape is pretty unsettling. I understand that since the reboot the producers have strived for a darker and grittier edge to the world of Bond but that felt like a step too far. The audience already understands however evil Medrano is from Camille’s earlier story about the rape and murder of her own family, was it really necessary to demonstrate it as well? I know it would be pretty standard with any other similar spy thriller so maybe it’s just my sentimental attachment to the gentler Bond.

Weirdest Moment

For me personally the weirdest moment was the deeply emotional and touching death scene of Mathis, immediately followed by Bond ditching his body in a dumpster and rifling through his wallet. When we saw this movie at the cinema the consensus however was that the most jarring moment was Bond in the first class cabin of a plane claiming to know nothing about alcohol. He made a point of moving them to a much swanker hotel when they arrived in Bolivia so it’s not as if he’s totally abandoned his traditionally expensive tastes, I guess it’s only when there’s an opportunity for product placement!

He's behind yooooou!

Best One Liner

I know that traditionally Bond has all the best one liners but in the case of Quantum of Solace I have to award it to Judi Dench’s deadpan M who complains after nearly being assassinated by her own bodyguard – “When someone says “We’ve got people everywhere”, you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn’t mean that they’ve got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!”

How Good Is It Really?

How does a film as fast paced and beautifully designed as this one, still manage to feel like its two hours too long? Perhaps the fight scenes are just so frenetically paced and jerkily shot that they make the rest of it seem slow by comparison. It’s a good solid action and espionage film, not too farfetched liked a lot of earlier Bond films, but it has lost some of joy that characterised those movies too. There are a decent number of quips but they’re mostly delivered by Judi Dench as this James Bond has had a humourectomy. I’m not a big fan of Daniel Craig’s Bond, he’s a competent actor but some elements of the characterisation are off. In many ways he’s more in true to the original written version of the character, but that’s not what you expect from a Bond movie. I’m not here for grim and gritty, if I wanted that I’d read some John La Carre instead. But I won’t change the channel if this comes on TV of an evening either.

Vyctoria Hart

Vyctoria Hart

Steampunk illustrator, disabled cosplayer, cat wrangler, maker of terrible puns. I draw under the name of Phantoms Siren.
Vyctoria Hart

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