The latest outing from Daniel Craig’s broodier Bond has been so hotly anticipated that it was going to be difficult to live up to the spectacle of 2006’s Casino Royale. Even with artificially low expectations though, the film fails to hit the mark. Directing duties went to German Mark Forster, and his inexperience showed. Best known for more thought provoking films like Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner, Forster seemed an odd choice to helm an all out action blockbuster.
Even from the opening set piece, action scenes seem constricted to the point of strangulation. The tight framing makes it difficult to understand what is going on so that the pre-credit car chase feels more like flicking through an Aston Martin brochure, rather than an exciting, flowing sequence. Compared to some really memorable Bond openers, Quantum of Solace’s is a bit limp.
The writing was also below par, with dialogue dull, plodding and decidedly quip free. But most of all, it just simply didn’t make sense. No characterisation was attempted, so every character felt like a bit part. It was hard to know what purpose some of the characters played, and which side they were on. When Gemma Arterton as Agent Strawberry Fields – the film’s only slightly camp element – comes to a sticky end, it was hard to really care as no emotive backgrounder had been written for her.
It is also hard to judge Craig’s performance, as he probably has the fewest lines in the film, but he works as a great tuxedo peg. His character lies behind those famous big blues and craggy jaw. Olga Kurylenko is stunning as the main love interest, but her feisty, independent character, on her own mission of vengeance, is tiresome and under-written. Judi Dench – seemingly quite happy to milk this cash cow – phones in a performance of little merit.
The main problem, however, was the convoluted story which failed to engage and was full of plot holes. Why does Greene have bullet holes in his skull? Why was nothing mentioned again about the PM’s advisor who is secretly part of a global embezzling organisation? Who would build a hotel that blows up if you accidentally reverse a bit too hard in the car park?
Frustrating. Hopefully, Bond will learn to be Bond again soon and stop trying to be Bourne. This franchise needs an urgent injection of fun – some camp humour here, a few gadgets there, a sprinkling of decent baddies – to chart with some of the best Bonds.
Quantum of Solace is currently showing at Cineworld Nottingham.