Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
"Quantum of Solace"
In case you were wondering, I was planning on talking about the Daniel Craig Bond movies in preparation for No Time To Die in April, and started early because I never know when I will actually have time to sit down and write. A few days ago, the 5th Daniel Craig Bond film was pushed back all the way to October. 'Twas a sad day. But I've watched the first two movies already, and I'm not gonna do it again! So now we are starting this journey really early. Oh well.
I did not see Quantum of Solace, or Casino Royale, on their release dates. I was 7 and 9 respectively on those release dates, and, while enjoying movies at that age, I probably never asked my parents to bring me to go see them. I believe my first time seeing the films was on TV, long after the hype surrounding them had died down. It wasn't until years later that I would rewatch them, along with Skyfall, with a more critical eye in preparation for Spectre. Now I'm here watching them again, and this time... I'm documenting it!
And holy crap, Quantum of Solace is an insanely disappointing film to watch. I was going to do a full review of Casino Royale first but decided that it would be better for me to share why I love CR and then compare that to QoS. Because honestly, these films are so different, and the change in directors is insanely obvious. Not to say that I don't like Marc Forster. I just don't think he exactly knew what to do with a follow up to the subjectively perfect Casino Royale.
Talk about a change in formula.
After so many campy and cringe-inducing Bond films, Sony decided they wanted to do what Christopher Nolan did to Batman and release a gritty, more realistic version of 007. And it worked.
Bond's humanity was captured so well. We see him develop feelings for a woman who in previous films he would have probably just slept with and let go. In fact, when Bond has the opportunity to sleep with a random girl, he ditches her because the mission is more important. When Vesper is upset that she aided in the death of a man, she cries in the shower. Instead of bringing her to bed, Bond comforts her in the shower with his clothes on. He's actually a decent human being.
The villain, Le Chiffre, is also quite good. He doesn't have an insane, cheesy plan involving over-the-top machinery fueled by over-the-top pettiness. Le Chiffre is a dude involved with a terrorist group, and they want their money. So Le Chiffre must get it. It's a simple plot for a more grounded Bond reboot.
Not only that, but the action is fantastic and the tension is high. I never thought I would ever enjoy watching a poker game, but Bond made me love it. Plus, the film really pushes the PG-13 bar to its limit, and I think that's pretty dope.
"Quantum of Solace" and its Bad Ideas
Quantum of Solace took what I loved about Casino Royale and, well... didn't do it.
Yes, the grittiness and realism are still there, which is great. That's one thing I think the film captured correctly. And some of Bond's humanity that Craig brought is still there. He doesn't sleep with the lead female, Camille, which is great. I didn't feel a good connection between them at all. But, he does sleep with this random agent shortly after meeting her, which I thought completely went against everything Casino Royale had set up. It's obvious he was still holding on to Vesper––whether he liked to admit it or not––so I don't see why the creators thought they needed to conform to what I'm sure big Bond fans expected. I liked the change of formula CR brought after 40+ years of Bond film after Bond film after Bond film which showed that Bond didn't need to sleep with anyone. But maybe that's just me.
But back to Camille. I understand that both she and Bond are characters wanting revenge for people they have lost, but I just didn't feel an emotional connection to her. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it has something to do with the writing or acting, but I just didn't care about her character at all.
The villain, Dominic Greene, is just a normal guy working for this "secret organization" (Spectre), which I guess fits into the more grounded approach this iteration of Bond was going for. However, I found him to be extremely dull. There was nothing interesting about him. He was just a French douchebag who treated women like trash and wanted to control Bolivia's water supply to put his company on top. He's not a villain under pressure from others like Le Chiffre––he's just a boring dick.
Like Greene, the action was dull, which is sad, because there's a lot of it. But there are so many quick cuts that render each fight impossible to follow. Bond beat up some dudes. How? No idea. But he did it. None of the hits feel impactful. Bond––more so than in the other Craig Bond films I've seen––is straight-up unkillable. This dude can basically walk through fire with only dirty skin as proof. I don't feel the stakes at all, unlike in Casino Royale when his heart literally stops or when he actually loses all of his money. In QoS, his credit cards are all declined yet he can still just go wherever he pleases. All believability just flies out the window with this one––believability that could have been there if the writing had been better. It's a big shame.
QoS started filming during a writer's strike, meaning Craig––who has since claimed that he is no writer––and director Marc Forster had to work as they went in order to actually film scenes. My question is: why didn't they just wait? If the issue was not having a professional writer to finish the script, why didn't they just wait until the strike ended and they had one? Perhaps a film that lived up to Casino Royale's reputation would have been made if they had done so. Or not. We will never know.
Look, this film isn't complete shit. I still like Craig as Bond. I still really liked the grittiness and the realism. I thought the opening car chase was cool.
But the action was dull and hard to follow, the villain was boring compared to Le Chiffre, and, while I didn't mention it before, I didn't like the setting. I think deserts are boring and only work well in movies like The Mummy, for instance.
I don't entirely hate it, but rewatching it directly after Casino Royale made me realize how disappointing it is, so I'm going to give Quantum of Solace a 5.5/10.
© 2021 Benjamin Wollmuth
Noel Penaflor from California on January 24, 2021:
I didn't mind this one as that awful Spectre.