I’d better admit it right up front: I liked Quantum of Solace.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way and 90% of my readership (all nine of them) have decided that I’m off my trolley but not interesting enough in my insanity to keep reading, let me qualify this a bit. Yes, the film isn’t particularly well directed, especially in the action scenes – some were thrilling, some were muddled and done without any clear understanding of what makes an action scene work, and there were definitely way too many of them. Yes, the plot is equally muddled, confusing “complicated” for “complex” or even “deep”. Yes, it doesn’t hold a candle to Casino Royale. And yes, the title sequence sucked, to put it bluntly.
But (and this is where I go all heretical again) I liked it better than every single Bond movie I’d seen that starred Pierce Brosnan. Yes, even better than Goldeneye (which I saw on video years after it’d come out, and I thought it looked cheap and trashy). I liked that the baddie wasn’t some over-the-top madman out to destroy the world but just a businessman with the necessary lack of ethics to be good at what he does. I liked the running gag of Bond killing every single lead – in self-defense, mind you, but he’s still not exactly very good at this, is he? (He’s great at improvising and at being part hitman, part monk, as Craig’s Bond put it in the previous movie, but he still has a lot to learn.) And I liked how Vesper, while still dead and gone and sorely missed by most of the male audience (yes, Olga Kurylenko is also quite tasty), is still very much in this film, making its title more than just the last Flemying-penned Bond title they could use for a film. While Bond in this film isn’t the well-oiled machine out for revenge that some critics thought him to be, there is always this secondary motivation – to find something, some small measure of relief (see what I did there? sad, innit?), that would put an end to his sense of betrayal.
Clearly it did help that I’d almost only heard bad things about the film, so I went in expecting… well, something like Die Another Day, except perhaps without the invisible car, the ice fortress and, ideally, Brosnan. As I wrote earlier, the film isn’t nearly what it could be, especially with a tight rewrite (one that also allows for more moments of quiet in the first half rather than the breathless parade of action sequences we get) and better direction. (Sorry, Marc, I’m still not convinced you’re a terribly good director.) But it makes me think that the franchise, especially if it keeps Craig, still has some life in it.