I end my epic journey today with a writeup of Quantum of Solace, the follow-up to 2006’s Casino Royale that continues the story of a heartbroken Bond out for revenge.
Well, here we are. After 24 whirlwind days in the world of James Bond, I’ve come to the final movie thus far in the franchise, Quantum of Solace. It’s been a remarkable experience, and I’m actually kind of sad it’s over, but all good things must come to an end. Brace yourselves, and be warned that while I’ve kept this writeup spoiler-free, you may still want to refrain from reading it until after you’ve seen Quantum of Solace.
I’ve mentioned here and there over the course of this series that watching all of these Bond films has helped me to understand the film universe of 007 on a much deeper level. There are things that I’ve come to expect from a James Bond movie, regardless of who the actor was and during what era the movie was produced. These things are the tried and true elements of the Bond persona, and while one may argue this persona has strayed heavily from its source material, one cannot deny that the silver screen Bond has established a sort of mythology all his own. I think some of you can see where I’m going with this.
Casino Royale effectively upended this mythology and sought to establish a new identity for 007. Not only was he rewritten to be darker and more ruthless, but the transformation was made complete by the controversial casting of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Daniel Craig, arguably less dashing than his predecessors but with a rugged face more suited for the brutal killer Bond would become. At the same time, Casino Royale retained a bit of charm, a pinch of humor, and enough of the familiar conventions that I had come to know and love as distinctly “James Bond.”
With all of this in mind, I also had certain expectations when I finally took my seat to watch Quantum of Solace, but again, my expectations were thoroughly challenged. I don’t want to get into specific details, because I’m not a film critic, and I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone who has yet to see the film. But while I generally liked the movie, I enjoyed it for very different reasons than Casino Royale, and truthfully speaking, I was left with somewhat of a bittersweet aftertaste.
First of all, QoS is action packed. And I mean wall-to-wall, relentless, grimy, cathartic action. The very beginning of the movie plunges the audience into a high octane car chase, the pre-credit spectacle, and the remainder pauses only briefly to expand the plot. It wasn’t always easy to tell what was going on, what with the jittery camera work, but every knuckle to the jaw resounded with a visceral crunch, every gunshot popped with fury, and every fall to the ground vibrated through my back. Bond is just as ferocious, thrusting his body into countless perilous situations and emerging victoriously with an intense glare on his face and a smattering of dirt caked onto his clothes.
However, aside from a couple of allusions to the Bond franchise (including an obvious homage to Goldfinger), the movie suffers from a lack of signature Bond elements. Though the gadgets, one-liners, massive lairs, Q, and Moneypenny were also absent in Casino Royale, that film still felt like a Bond film because of the nature of its characters and the structure of the story. Quantum of Solace, on the other hand, sports a relatively straightforward script and, despite the promise of a continuing revenge plot, one gets the sense its plot points exist solely to provide context for the explosive action sequences. Bond is also more stoic than ever, with precious few lines of dialogue and little development of his character beyond “I’m pissed off, and someone’s gonna pay!” Whether or not it’s more faithful to Ian Fleming’s novels is moot; because the 007 of the silver screen had been established for forty years, I think it’s somewhat understandable for some fans to be distraught over this.
But this is the double-edged sword. I gained a greater appreciation for Casino Royale after having watched all of its predecessors; this is not necessary to enjoy Quantum of Solace. It’s a hard-hitting action movie that doesn’t require one to be a die-hard Bond fan to indulge in its visceral thrills, so I think fans of action flicks in general will be able to appreciate it on some level, despite it having a thinner plot and no deep connection to the previous installments. This is pure adrenaline, and if that’s all you’re after, it may suffice. If you want more than that, you’ll probably be disappointed, and those simply looking forward to James Bond wreaking havoc will have a better time.
I’ve enjoyed being able to experience all these films with you all, and I never expected to engage you as much as I did in discussing these films. From Dr. No to Quantum of Solace, a whole new universe was opened up to me, and I now have an affection for these films I never would have had before. Thanks for following along with me these past few weeks, and for those of you who have asked if we’ll do this again: yes, based on all of your support for this series, we are currently discussing doing another one, though nothing is finalized.
On a final note, also due to comments many of you have made, here are a few favorites (ane one least favorite) of mine: