Today is Halloween, traditionally a big day for horror movies, but for 2008, this long standing tradition has been usurped by the return of a bigger, better, badder and more British institution. Today sees the release of Bond 22. Daniel Craig returns in his sophomore outing as Commander James Bond of Her Majesty’s Secret Service in Quantum Of Solace, but what did the critics have to say?
Quantum Of Solace is the first true ‘sequel’ of the James Bond franchise, and picks up the story mere moments after the end of Casino Royale, with Bond pursuing the shadowy organisation responsible for the death of his love interest from Casino, Vesper Lynd, with revenge on his agenda.
When producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson decided to reboot the Bond franchise after the much derided Die Another Day (a surprisingly middling 60% on the Tomatometer), they took a bold move by taking Bond back to his brutal roots, ditching the gadgets and quippery so prevalent in Pierce Brosnan’s era, for a more hard hitting and modern take with a much tougher earthier lead in Daniel Craig. The big gamble paid off and Casino Royale, which went on to break Bond records left right and centre, was a huge critical success at 94% on the Tomatometer. So the standard was set; Daniel Craig signed on for another movie, the producers recruited Marc Forster, a ‘serious’ director with Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland and The Kite Runner – all critical successes – under his belt, a bewilderingly cerebral title was announced, and then we waited. But was it worth the wait?
Well, currently standing at 79% on the Tomatometer, the figures seem to speak for themselves, namely that QOS is better than Die Another Day, but not as good as Casino Royale.
All the critics were universal in their praise for Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond, agreeing that he has made the role his own, a tricky task considering the rough ride given to all previous actors in the role (including Sean Connery, dismissed by Ian Fleming himself as ‘an overgrown stuntman’).
“I doubt that there’s a better actor at bottling rage than Daniel Craig. All muscles, he has defined himself as a darker and more bare-knuckle Bond than any of his elegant predecessors” James Christopher, The Times.
“Daniel Craig has really settled into the role of Bond, making it completely his own and even bringing a slightly softer side that previous Bonds have lacked.” Matthew Turner, ViewLondon.
Craig puts in another powerhouse performance.” David Edwards, Daily Mirror.
The supporting performances were rightly praised too.
“The French Mathieu Amalric makes the smarmy fake environmentalist Greene a suitably loathsome character” Kim Newman, Empire.
“Gemma Arterton is superb in her brief role as an agent whom Bond encounters in Bolivia, cementing her position as one of cinema’s brightest young stars.” Lizo Mzimba, BBC.
“The ridiculously beautiful Olga Kurylenko is a kind of counter-point to 007. She excels as another damaged secret service agent who is similarly motivated by revenge” Orlando Parfitt, IGN UK.
The critics also enjoyed the breathless pace, crunching action and impressive set-pieces, as well as the more tender, thoughtful and emotional moments that Forster has brought to the film.
“Frenetic, full of chase sequences and sudden switches in location, the film has a demented energy about it, as if it’s taking his feverish tempo from Bond himself.” Geoffrey McNab, The Independent.
Some griped at the film’s dark and brutal tone and nature, however, with many asking where Bonds sense of humour had gone.
“The gags have gone, along with the gadgets. Wit and fun have deserted the franchise.” Christopher Tookey, The Daily Mail.
“There are times during this grey, not very sexy and rather humourless new 007 epic when you actually wish for a sighting of Roger Moore’s suave and insouciant version of Bond.” Derek Malcolm, Evening Standard.
Some also felt that the actions scenes were a little untidy, suggesting Forster may be more suited to the dramatic side of things.
“Fashionable fast-cut editing will play well to videogame fans. Anyone else may be left wondering who’s doing what to whom in the carnage of Aston Martins.” Victor Oliver, Teletext.
“The drawback to the frenetic approach is that the chases risk merging into one another.” Geoffrey McNab, The Independent.
Overall, whilst most felt the film underwhelming in comparison to the superior Casino Royale, QOS‘s slender running time (at 106 minutes the shortest in the franchises history), makes for a hard hitting and brutal entry to the Bond canon. With Daniel Craig set to return in Bond 23, all eyes will again be on the nations favourite secret agent to see whether 007s recent one-two will result in a killer knock out third movie.