Driven with rage following the death of his lover Vesper at the close of Casino Royale, Bond’s pursuit of his nemesis Mr White leads him to uncover the existence of a shadowy organisation, which has infiltrated MI6, and has nefarious plans on a global level.
Tied into this is the equally scuzzy Dominic Greene, a supposed conservationist, who helps a slimeball dictator back into power in Bolivia in order to snaffle precious water resources, with which Greene will hold the country to ransom. Our man hooks up with Greene’s squeeze, the sultry Camille, a firebrand with her own reasons to want to get her hands on the new dictator. With MI6 viewing Bond as a renegade, and with the government's loathe to intervene, it’s down to these two to save the day.
From the blistering opening sequences, delivering an impressively action-packed platter of white-knuckle car chases and fight scenes that could grace many a wire-fu martial arts flick, it solidly delivers all the testosterone-driven goodness anyone could possibly wish for.
Perhaps the most important thing is that the much-vaunted reboot has worked. Shedding the campy implausibility that made the series so endearing to many, yet would have in time made it a fanboy’s curio, it stands up as a feature in its own right, not reliant on loyalties to its tropes, gimmicks and characters (and thank f*** there’s still no place for John Cleese, the man whose presence, along with Tim Curry, signifies that a film should not be taken seriously). What they’ve instead done is ramp up the core elements - the style, sophistication and machismo.
More believable as an action hero than his predecessors, Craig effortlessly conveys the those traits - even though he spends much of the film with a cob on, there’s a real sense that they’re never too far below the surface.
Style is the one thing that Quantum has in spades, maybe to a fault. The cars, girls and guns that make Bond films so distinct are packaged so stunningly; 007 scraps his way through a number of sumptious landscapes, yet it’s all so impeccably arranged that it feels like an issue of GQ, with its array of top-end fashion shoots, travel pieces and boys toys line-ups.
So slick is it, that when a smidge of tiredness kicked in and I lost track for a moment, events swept me along without the slightest resistance or boredom.
Morally it’s curious too. the bad guy is a nondescript and physically insignificant type who works within political spheres, while his attempt to hijack resources to gain leverage on governments draws indifference from both the British and American governments, a realisation that ethics come second to economics in this day and age.
Quantum Of Solace paints with broad yet subtle strokes, with a more feral Bond working in a world that’s no longer black and white, where terrorism has heightened global paranoia and nerviness, while his actions are carried out with less flourish and greater necessity, reflecting the survivalism that the current economic trough encourages.
By plugging into our times, while applying it to the undeniable suaveness of some 40 years of Bond action, this new take on a classic is essential stuff.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Gemma Arterton
Directed by: Marc Forster
Two-Disc Special Edition Special Features: "Bond on Location" 24-minute special feature; Music Video - Jack White & Alicia Keys - Another Way to Die; 5 Featurettes: Start of Shooting, On Location, Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase, Director Marc Forster, The Music; Crew Files; Trailers