There are few sequels that disappoint quite as much as this. There are sequels that are far worse, obviously, but something about Quantum has meant each re-watch has convinced me I had it wrong and its actually good, then about half way through I start to think again, then by the end I’m like “Oh right, yeah…” It’s not flat out bad like Die Another Day or Octopussy, but it’s written to string you along only to let you down in the end… Let’s take a deeper look, anyway!
Following the death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond makes his next mission personal. The hunt for those who blackmailed his lover leads him to ruthless businessman Dominic Greene, a key player in the organization which coerced Vesper. Bond learns that Greene is plotting to gain total control of a vital natural resource, and he must navigate a minefield of danger and treachery to foil the plan.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
It’s the cold blue eyes that sells it …. that or the gun.
The film picks up straight from the end of Casino Royale (minus Bond being in a different suit…) as Bond (Daniel Craig) takes a kidnapped Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to M (Judi Dench) for interrogation after a good car chase ruined somewhat by an over reliance on camera cuts. As per usual with this sort of thing their main witness is killed but Bond eventually gets some hints to follow that allow him to travel to some exotic locales. He soon finds Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and his Quantum organisation and believes they’re the ones behind Mr. White and everything that happened with Bond’s prior love interest Vesper. At the same time he meets Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who is in Greene’s organisation but only to assassinate General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio) who had murdered her entire family and who was doing a deal with Greene. A fun shootout where Bond pretended to be someone she was meeting only to find out that person was actually hired to kill her (seriously, moment of the film is where a member of Greene’s gang arrives on a motorbike and says “You were supposed to kill her!” and Bond just replies “Well, I missed!” and angrily kicks the bike in such a way the guy goes flying off it. Made me legitimately smile ear-to-ear…)
The extremely boring villain and the fine if not unmemorable Bond girl…. Hooray?!
Bond and Camille then spend the rest of the film tracking Greene and Medrano, with Bond finding out that Greene was after a patch of desert that had a water reservoir under it with plans of exploiting the water source, and that he’d get it from Medrano should he succeed in placing the despot back in power. This is where the film falls apart sadly, though I will say that Craig and Olga do a good job in their roles right to the end, it’s just… well, I’ll leave that for the “Bad” section. The very final moments of the film, where Bond find’s Vesper’s love interest that was mentioned in the previous film and who turns out to be someone who sleeps with agents and exploits them is good as he doesn’t kill him for revenge, showing he’s truly an agent who no longer lets personal grudges get in the way of the job, even leaving Vesper’s necklace in the snow on the way out… A little bit of character development given this is still supposed to be very early in Bond’s career.
Bond and Greene fight as the hotel explodes, and yet I’m not invested….
I find it hard to pin-point just when the film begins to fail, I just know that once Bond and Camille arrive in Bolivia and start talking about water supplies it feels like the film will start to move in an interesting direction, then suddenly we go to a hotel, have a shootout as the hotel explodes and the film ends. It’s really weird, I know the film was effected by the writers’ strike but you’d think they’d be able to write a better ending. It’s the shortest Bond film as well at just about an hour and a half so it does feel like the ending was probably a set piece before the ending and they just added Greene and Medrano’s deaths into it. Either way its wholly unsatisfying and therefore makes the whole film seem like a waste despite its short length.
Also probably for similar reasons I never found Dominic Greene even remotely interesting as a villain, and that’s no shot at Mathieu Amalric, he was fine as a young rich arrogant businessman type, but that just isn’t such a compelling Bond villain. Also there’s a scene where a female MI6 agent Bond meets with is killed by having her whole body painted in black oil-like tar ala Goldfinger (well, except not gold paint, obviously) and all it did was make me think “ah, that’s a fun callback to Goldfinger” rather than make me care that this agent had just been killed and hate Greene for it. In the end he was just an annoying prick rather than a villain to defeat…
Oh and Giancarlo Giannini is back as René Mathis only for Bond to get him killed and throw his body in a dumpster. Probably should have just left that plot thread untouched really…
Bond shoots his would-be-killer while hanging upside down on a rope, just as he was trained.
Quantum of Solace starts off alright but slowly becomes less interesting until it suddenly ends and has a villain that’s more mildly annoying prick than Bond’s big enemy. Quantum of Solace is less short but sweet and more “short and a bit crap”.