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Quantum of Solace

For a synopsis of the latest 007 adventure I turn to that doyen of cinematic criticism, the redoubtable Fearne Cotton, speaking on Radio 1:

Only hours after the death of his girlfriend Vesper Lynd at the end of Casino Royale, James Bond embarks on a global mission to hunt down the evil Dominic Greene who is trying to take the world’s natural resources hostage country by country. M thinks Bond is out of control, the CIA aren’t very friendly either – it’s literally 007 versus the rest of the world. But is it through doing his duty, or gaining revenge, that Bond will find his Quantum of Solace?

Despite the hyperbole, and the weirdness of using Cotton as an informed source for anything, this is a close as any coverage has come to summarising the point of Quantum of Solace. It is categorically not a ‘revenge movie’, not in the traditional sense at least…and in that distinction, plus director Marc Forster’s decision to keep things as frenetic as possible, we have a film that seems to be dividing critics, fans and regular moviegoers in equal measure.

So let’s get the obvious statement out of the way up-front: this is not as good as Casino Royale.

How could it be? That movie was such a massive truckload of fresh air. Refuting the excesses in ways even previous ‘serious’ Bonds never dared. Emotionally closest to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the only film at that stage not to end with Bond copping off), Casino Royale looked back to a film that, while a fan favourite, is generally rejected by casual viewers. Dry wit replaced droll puns, characters superseded caricature. Box office, critics and fans (one grumbling subset aside) were united in their delight. It’s a great movie, arguably the best Bond film to date.

You just can’t live up to that.

Quantum of Solace assumes that the leg-work has now been done. That we all saw the last movie and all agree that Bond is able to be a substantial, layered character. Forster is not interested in re-stating what was already said. Instead, he takes a damaged professional and fires him, like a bullet, at a target.

This trajectory makes the first half of Quantum of Solace a challenging watch. In the immediate aftermath of Vesper’s demise Bond is single-minded, and there’s barely a moment’s pause. You have to dig your nails in, because the movie might shake you off at this point and never get you back. Action follows action and leads to action. A neat trail of bread-crumbs requires your attention to keep up – the plot is generally very straightforward, but you’re treated as smart enough to keep up. Switch off and you’re lost.

The approach to the film’s action is equally single-minded; nothing is permitted to outstay its welcome. Set pieces are more likely to last three minutes than ten. No indulgent, ‘will it ever end?’ chases this time. This Bond has learned his lessons, and he’s now coldly efficient – fights and chases are brisk and to the point. Neither we nor Bond can relax as things just ‘carry on for a bit’.

The sequences themselves are hit and miss, but thankfully favour the former. The car chase that opens the film is arguably too choppy to feel satisfying, and a motor boat battle struggles to keep track of everything (though both contain some great touches). But the much-teased rooftop chase is utterly thrilling, several hand-to-hand fights have real snap to them, and the final battle contains everything the Brosnan finales should have managed but never did. Much of which is about having a good eye for detail – loose roofing tiles, billowing curtains, and an eye on what a character feels about what’s going on.

The Explosive Finale

With so many sequences available, Forster gets the chance to experiment with differing styles. The boats and villain’s lair are classic old Bond, the car chase much closer to Frankenheimer and Bourne, an escape at an opera house is more ‘art house’ in its cross cutting, and a conflict in the air aims towards Hitchcock. (Listen to the audience breathe a sigh of relief when this one concludes!)

After a breathless first half, thankfully, Quantum of Solace settles down. We take in an opera, visit the villain during a party, grab a few drinks on a flight. It’s at this point that Quantum of Solace recovers ground it seemed to be losing. So long as you still have your fingernails dug in, you’ll be rewarded by some of the fine character work that made Casino Royale such a pleasure. (And it’s worth noting that Royale had a similar structure, powering ahead in its first half and only putting Bond and the female lead together half way through.)

Forster’s films almost always focus on pairs and parallels, be it author and subject (Stranger Than Fiction), best friends (The Kite Runner) or man and woman united in grief (Monster’s Ball). Here, he puts his weight behind Bond’s fleeting time with Camille, a woman whose mission mirrors Bond’s own – she’s out for revenge and needs to go through villain Dominic Green to get it.

Bond and Camille

Her target is utter bastard General Medrano, and her reasons, when revealed, are as visceral as can be. But Bond is a professional, he’s not entitled to the kind of emotional reaction Camille is acting upon. Daniel Craig proves his worth with material like this, consistently underplaying and leaving the viewer to draw conclusions. One remarkable moment sees Bond instructing Camille on just how, exactly, to take down her target. For some it’s a standard ‘what we do next’ exchange, but for those paying attention its a scene about wish-fulfilment. Bond is living vicariously, living through Camille’s revenge because he knows he can’t take his own.

So we see two sides of grief in this shady underworld (which has never been subjected to so much harsh sunlight, the barren desert locales both informing a story about water and reflecting Bond’s barren internal landscape). One side is hot-blooded, the other has ice in his veins. One is forced to go unsatisfied, the other gets to extract their vengeance. And the layers of reading you can apply to that outcome should fuel lengthy dinner conversation after the movie – how rare and wonderful that is. (The actress in question, Olga Kurylenko, acquits herself well, the dark and dangerous glances making up for occasional struggles with the English dialogue.)

Bond’s other allys are used more directly, but are no less interesting for that. Judy Dench continues to play a different version of the M character seen in the Brosnan flicks, far more akin to Fleming as she heads towards expletives in moments of stress. She has also become Bond’s nagging conscience, the only person who can give voice to concerning truths. A scene where the two of them stand over the body of yet another dead bedmate, visually recalling the ghastly fate of Solange in Casino Royale, is among the best of the series.

M is also part of the establishment, though, and as such her orders are open to moral questions. Early on she states a clear intention to have a suspect tortured for information, and her place as government servant is made more specifically clear than ever before. When the people are at the top are in bed with the bad guys, which way should Bond go? And how much leeway can M allow him?

Giancarlo Giannini returns as Mathis, a character left as a possible suspect at the end of the last film and this time an apparent ally. He’s once again played affable and warm, but with a taste for wine and women that posits the character as a version of Bond in 20 years’ time. Both he and Bond are amused by the arrival of officious agent Fields (Gemma Arterton, playing so ridiculously up-tight-old-school-British that it must, surely, be deliberate), sharing a knowing quip about handcuffs. And once again Jeffrey Wrights’ Felix Leiter is charming, plain-spoken and sadly underused.

The villains continue Casino Royale’s theme of middle men working for a larger power. This time it’s Dominic Greene, environmentalist, businessman and total devious bastard. Mathieu Amalric is wonderfully reptilian in the part, though there’s no torture sequence or card game in which to really let him lose. Where Royale took from Fleming the notion that villain and hero are mirrors of each other, this time Forster places his parallels between Bond and Bond Girl – more time for the bad guys would have unbalanced the whole exercise. Still, at least when it comes right down to it Greene picks up a fire axe and fights like a good ‘un – though not before loosing henchman Elvis, whose value on screen is mostly visual rather than vocal. (His various humiliations come close to being a running gag.)

For a film that forms part of another ‘serious’ Bond era there’s a lot of snappy wit on display in Quantum of Solace. “We have people everywhere,” Dench bemoans, quoting Mr. White, “Florists say that!” There’s a surplus of good lines and moments, all stemming from character and thankfully pun-free (Bond interrupting a meeting of evil organisation Quantum is a delight), and every so often we’ll get a visual touch that raises a warm smile: when 007 hands an unconscious body to a stranger on a dock it’s as if he’s tossed the valet his car keys.

A body under water

There’s a running theme of bodies in the boots of cars, too – happening on three occasions and always part of an interesting or surprising development – while Forster maintains his eye for interesting imagery. From a body underwater to a hotel in the desert via a beautiful underground reservoir, Quantum of Solace is visually delicious, and all the more remarkable for the number of times these things are found on location. (Which is not to denigrate Dennis Grassner’s lovely production design, though lets heap a little praise on cinematographer Roberto Schaefer.)

Reality in violence is kept to the fore as, once again, we watch the bloodied 007 clean himself up in the mirror. But the standout in this area is Camille’s reaction to the final battle, discovering Medrano in the middle of a sexual assault and finding herself trapped in a burning building. On its own, it’s horrible – coupled with the character’s back-story, it’s deeply upsetting.

The final moments of the film recall the thrillers of the 70s. Snow falls outside – a chilling shift after the heat of the Bolivian desert – and Bond, in overcoat and gloves, finally comes face to face with a key player in his own downfall. It is, in all senses, chilling. Morally and emotionally complex, with a cold colour palette, there’s a touch of the Harry Palmers to it.

Cold, gloved Bond

Through it all we have David Arnold’s score. Cut loose from an era where it was appropriate to blast the Bond theme out during every battle, now he’s reaching for more interesting styles. The travelogues remain, but the theme itself hits only at specific, generally post-action, moments. (Arnold is wrong to claim that the theme always equals victory, but certainly in a film as taught as this there really isn’t room to sit back and take a breath as it plays through.) Flawed-but-underrated title song Another Way to Die also creeps in here and there in subtle, careful ways.

So how does it all come together? Certainly you may struggle to find yourself endeared in those early stages. Your respect and interest is arrogantly assumed rather than requested. This is the third act of a story – Casino Royale containing acts one (Bond begins as a double-O) and two (Bond loves and loses) – and seems designed to be watched as part of a double-bill.

Casino Royale gave you an erratic, wall-crashing 007, then Samson-like brought him a woman who would take something from him. While still headstrong, the single-mindedness has been focussed to a fine point. He’s a guided missile now, a bullet – aim and fire. Kills take a third of the time, there’s not an ounce of doubt left in the man, no hesitation. But at the same time he’s now a beast of duty, and as such nowhere near as impulsive as he is mistaken for. His tragedy, ultimately, is that he is required not to kill men he might, in other circumstances, desire to. Duty comes first, and that means leaving alive those he wants dead – and, conversely, killing some he would have preferred to leave alive.

Get over that first-part hurdle, then, and there’s all the style, wit and action you could want. In the wonderful opera sequence, Bond swipes a tux, scopes the area, captures a comms device and listens in to the bad guys’ chatter…before tactically alerting them to his presence in order to reveal their own identities. Later, things get even better – arriving back at his hotel Bond finds M waiting. After the ‘dead girlfriend’ scene mentioned above he proves why he’s the best in the service – defeating MI6 agents in a lift and skipping out across bannisters with every inch of Connery’s smooth, animal elegance.

There are other flaws, of course. Forster reigns in the product placement, but goes nuts with his regular graphic artists MK12 – using different fonts for every location description and compiling a title sequence that feels like it belongs more to the videogame than the real thing. (Though the new-style gunbarrel, appropriately placed at the end of the movie, looks great. Clean and simple.) Complaints of violence and fast editing I have less interest in, particularly from fans of the series who by now should be aware that the 60s films often irked the censor for their levels of violence, and famously developed an editing style that was seen at the time as shockingly high-speed. Aside from the action rhythms, the intention was to remove ‘shoe leather’ between scenes – an ethos this movie takes to extremes.

Go into Quantum of Solace expecting to sit back and relax and you may come out disappointed. You have to work to stay involved, and you certainly have to concentrate to keep up with the simple-but-under-expositioned story. But that investment of effort is absolutely worthwhile, with the series continuing to bring emotional consistency and genuine intrigue.

This is a film about the character who stated “The bitch is dead” at the end of Casino Royale, who has chosen to replace his hollowed-out soul with duty. This won’t be played out in lengthy, emo-Bond dialogue scenes – it’s an action movie, and they’re never sending the guy to a shrink. But it’s in the implications, and in Daniel Craig’s startling blue eyes.

Could be better, then, but this is still a remarkable era for Bond.


Having seen the movie again, I’m glad to say that I enjoyed it every bit as much. Interesting to note that some things which seemed implicit were actually explicitly stated, albeit in gentle, subtle ways. While Bolivia always seemed arid, with water blatantly scarce and villagers scrambling for the last drops from a water tank, it’s interesting to note just how often conversation in the film turns to the subject. Both Guillermo del Toro’s ADR cameo and the ‘comedy’ cab driver are on-subject in moments that could be filled with blander chat. It’s a neat layering in of a theme – by the time the underground reservoir is discovered, you’re already aware of the crisis going on, though you may not be sure how.

Similarly, there’s a neat suggestion throughout that Bond hasn’t slept since Vesper was killed. Executed with a light touch – arguably too light when we’re not exactly used to watching 007 catch a few Z’s unless knocked out – the story is told in questions from those around him. M at first, Mathis in the middle, Camille at the end. The film’s pace, then, matches the never-rest nature of a damaged character. Greene’s back-story also sticks out a little clearer, with a story from his childhood that has chilling implications but perhaps got lost the first time around as we put together other information.

Weird to spot that the film has a very similar structure to Casino Royale, at a lot of points you could almost trace one over the top of the other, though the makers are wise to reverse certain outcomes – especially noticeable at the end where losing a girl to water becomes saving a girl from fire. Still, there are similarities aplenty – a one-on-one knife fight in this film evolving from a one-on-one knife tussle in the last one; rooftop suspect chases appearing in the exact same place in both; the two pairs of girls are utilised in similar ways; and both films go for a gangbusters-action first half before slowing down for the second and ending on a key series icon. That said, the film has three acts rather than Casino Royale’s four, and a fascinating intention to base key action sequences around the elements (fire, water and air are all clear; earth is a bit of a toss-up between two sequences that both include dusty construction work)

Also – having stated that this isn’t a revenge movie at the top of the review – it’s worth noting that the time Bond spends as a rogue agent, stripped of his licence as opposed to his credit card, is less than two minutes. Instinctual and pro-active, the bulk of his mission is authorised either directly or implicitly. He may not come when you call him, but – like the cop who performs the stakeout himself when the chief won’t give him any men to follow his hunch – he’s rarely all the way off the radar. The time from M taking him off active duty to her agreement that, trusting his instincts, he’s doing the right thing can be counted in seconds. (And it’s a great little moment between two beloved characters played by great actors.)

As the reviews and reactions continue to pour in and audiences remain split, this is, at very least, a wildly interesting Bond film. Arguably it takes a Marc Forster approach to storytelling (naturally; in fact in some ways it works as a Kite Runner companion piece, particularly in its themes of violence and sexual abuse revisited on a new generation) when audiences may prefer, and be expecting, something a little more Martin Campbell – less The Kite Runner, more The Mask of Zorro (and that’s not a diss to either; I love them both) – but for those who take to the style, it’s equally rewarding the second time around.

Plus the idea that a Bond film has such an artistic and creative perspective that it encourages lively debate is a thrilling thing indeed. We’re a long way from the by-the-book formula of Brosnan’s enjoyable but unambitious era of hired-hand directors now. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of this unique film series.

4 Stars

About this entry


I’m glad to say I really enjoyed Quantum of Solace.

I had always felt a bit underwhelmed by the second half of Casino Royale with the tedious card game and the romance I didn’t buy into. That was a problem because I had also found Die Another Day a wonderful, very exciting film until the second half… in Iceland and… oh dear. Let us never speak of that again. Also I felt Bond falling in love has been much better executed in OHMSS and I have never been that impressed with the Bourne films, so I really wasn’t that that enthusiastic with the new Bond era we had entered. Certainly when you hear people talk about Casino Royale, a lot will either have problems with the stages of the film at Montenegro at the Casino or Venice with the romance. I’m one of the few who didn’t like either of those parts of that film but I don’t think there will be many people who will agree when it is said that Casino Royale was impossible to beat.

And luckily, despite a few problems, I have to consider this a very good, more satisfying film overall. The ‘Tosca’ bit (I doubt this is a spoiler!) was really exhilarating. Daniel Craig was great, Olga Kurylenko was very impressive and quite believable and the encounters Bond has with M are probably the most successful parts of the film with Judi Dench really, really good. Didn’t find it that hard to follow as some reviewers have said.

The film felt like new and refreshing but was still very much a Bond film. The bad guy scheme was given a nicely-judged topical edge and we almost had a battle at a secret headquarters. It wasn’t actually a secret headquarters but it struck a clever middle line between Bond past and present. So, I am now converted and can’t wait for Bond 23. 4/5.

Plus, those Virgin Atlantic planes looks real comfy.

By Rad
November 03, 2008 @ 12:56 am

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>The film felt like new and refreshing but was still very much a Bond film.

I can’t actually agree, I found this extremely underwhelming and very disappointing. Maybe I need to watch it again but it just never grabbed me.


Jumping straight into the action is a great idea but I found the opening scene, like many of the action scenes, marred by confusing direction. A shame, because the stunts were awesome and the reveal that Mr White was in the boot was great. On a similar note, the rooftop chase pales in comparison to the parkour sequence from Casino Royale and felt a little redundant, especially coming so soon after another chase scene.

Only two scenes stuck out for me; The first was the wonderful Opera scene, which embraced the Bond legacy rather than being embarrassed by it, and gave us a fresh spin on the old SPECTRE meetings.

The second was the death of Mathis which gave us a lovely character bit for Craig’s Bond where he dumps the body in the garbage. Sadly, this turn of events leads into the extremely tired “Bond goes rogue” which has now popped up in 3 of the last 7 movies and is getting pretty damn old.

As for the dastardly scheme. Wow, stockpiling water! How exciting. The finale was about as low key as the one in The Man with the Golden Gun and, aside from a nice character bit with Olga, just felt a little half-hearted.

Gemma Aterton’s Fields seems particularly pointless (functioning as the obligatory shag rather than a character). It’s actually a relief when she’s killed. Although, correct me if I’m wrong, but she’s killed by oil to throw the government off the scent of the water plan (?!). Or maybe the plot was originally about oil until someone realised that was too similar to TWINE to be an effective homage, and this scene (which is too similar to Goldfinger to be an effective homage) is what remains of the rewrite.

The gun barrell sequence arrives (far to late) to remind you that you have been watching a Bond movie. Albeit a Bond Movie that was a lot more enjoyable when it was called “Licence to Kill”. Licence to Kill may have lacked a bit of class but it still felt like Bond. I was ready for this movie and the final scene of Casino Royale always leaves me wanting more, but this one just didn’t take me on the ride I wanted.

James Bond will Return…when the writers have nicked some more ideas from Jason Bourne.

Pete's picture

By Pete
November 04, 2008 @ 7:51 am

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I disagree on almost everything Pete said, and those points are mostly already made in the review. But - it’ll be interesting to see the reaction that follows the release in America. Right now the opinions among fans, regular cinemagoers and critics are so polarised that, arguably, the debate about WHY audiences are dividing over the film is more interesting than the opinions of the film itself.

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By Andrew
November 04, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

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Well I bought the CD soundtrack it was good. So I’m still looking forward to the movie.

By Coolio Hunt
November 05, 2008 @ 9:45 am

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I admit it ! I prefer ‘Bond’ books to the films, but the film ‘Casino Royale’ gave me so much hope after the rock bottom , ‘Die another day ! ’

I was apprehensive about the new film as the build up didn’t give me any confidence . I didn’t like the posters, the trailers or that dirge from Keys and White !

I’ve just returned from watching ‘Quantum of Solace’ and I really hate to say this but what a huge disappointment !!

The film may have been the shortest, but it felt like the longest. The action scenes were edited too quickly and filmed too closely.
There were too many sub titles ; there was no heart to the picture and the dialogue was poor. I simply didn’t care about the characters at all !

Now I have to wait another two years - please bring back Daniel Klienman, Martin Campbell, Peter Lamont and John Barry. My main concern is that all the best Bond Films had a strong Fleming story -

Goldfinger, From Russia with love, Casino Royale and OHMSS.

Daniel Craig is so much better than the material he was given in Quantum of Solace. Casino Royale proves that !

By Mark
November 05, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

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I saw it yesterday and I thought it was very good. I loved the scene where Craig’s Bond first arrives at the posh hotel in Bolivia, it had a real 60’s kitsch to it. Not to mention Bond’s escape from it. COOL SCENE! I also liked the scene on the plane with Mathis and Bond and also Mathis’ last scene in the movie - I thought both scenes were handled very well by both actors involved.
Funny enough the scenes I was looking forward to the most was the PTS car chase and the aerial dogfight which although are thrilling were really passable in the end. I did like the ending I thought it was the most thrilling part of the film - Roll on March 2009 so that I watch what is obviously a true Bond saga in its entirety. BTW Dame Judy Dench is awesome in this and so is Daniel Craig - Bond has truly returned!

By Ike
November 05, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

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>the debate about WHY audiences are dividing over the film is more interesting than the opinions of the film itself.

Presumably this is harking back to your claim that the naysayers “don’t understand it”, which, incidentally, is incredibly patronising.

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By Pete
November 05, 2008 @ 6:56 pm

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Sorry to have offended, Pete. That was meant to be going for the comedy-of-arrogance thing but, looking back, it wasn’t working.

So no, I was interested in the discussion.

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By Andrew
November 05, 2008 @ 11:06 pm

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Fair enough.

Bond is fascinating because it’s so well known that everyone has an opinion on it. When someone lists their favourite Bond films, there’s always one I deem to be a stinker in there and, on the flip-side, when they list their least favourites, they invariably mention one that I hold in the highest regard.

I don’t think the Bond formula is something that has to be set in stone (which is why I adore The Spy Who Loved Me just as much I love Casino Royale) but QoS seemed to be almost straying from being a Bond movie in a way that said “we’re so much better than this”. Having the gun barrel at the end is a less important, but noticeable, example. Why put it there if not for being bloody contrary?

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By Pete
November 06, 2008 @ 7:42 am

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Article now updated with some second (more spoiler-ing) thoughts after another viewing of the film. See above for the italic-y bit.

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By Andrew
November 10, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

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For me, until David Arnold is handed his hat, the Bond series will always struggle on half-cocked. The great Connery Bonds (aside from Dr. No) *were* the music, and of course OHMSS was probably Barry’s finest hour, lending the film a strange depth that shimmered far beyond what was actually there. Arnold has had his fun with his tiresome, bombastic Barry-lite and now it’s surely time to return the series back to its previous form of allowing each film to enjoy a different composer, an approach that gave us George Martin’s cracking score for Live and Let Die and even Eric Serra’s not-too-bad stuff for Goldeneye. There are plenty out there: how about Michael Giacchino or Shadow of the Vampire’s Dan Jones? What about a theme song completed by someone actually sympathetic to John Barry’s signature style, such as Goldfrapp or St. Etienne?

By yted
November 16, 2008 @ 12:10 am

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Well Arnold is surely a COMPOSER that could be described as ‘sympathetic to Barry’s style…and it’s not like Duran Duran and Shirley Bassey would typically be classed together.

Still, I kind of agree, in that I’d like to see others take a crack at it, but more in the one-on, one-off manner of Barry in the 70s and 80s. Those experiments fail more often than they work - Serra’s and Bill Conti’s are pretty misjudged for me, Hamlisch’s only survives by being ‘likeable’, Kamen’s is serviceable, only Martin’s is a clear success - but they help keep the regular composer on his toes, inject a bit of variety. (The same reason I’m happy they tried a new titles designer this time, even if I wasn’t keen on the actual result.)

Certainly I don’t think the entire films series can be dismissed as half-cocked simply because of the choice of musician. But then, I think the score to Casino Royale is terrific.

Andrew's picture

By Andrew
November 16, 2008 @ 3:12 pm

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I’ve seen it twice now and tbh it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if I never saw it again. Definitely one of the ‘throwaway’ Bonds and thank god it’s come now when, due to Casino Royale and Bond being in favour, it could have been the biggest pile of excrement ever and still made a fuckload at the BO due to the seriously heavy promotion.

The action’s all great but there’s too much for the shorter running time. Watching it second time it seemed to me there may have been some very hasty cuts made around the middle of the film in an effort to edit the fuckawful ‘plot’ about water down to the bare minimum. Surely Dominic Greene should have had more screentime?? I’m betting half of his performance is on the cutting room floor. Must do better.

Good parts - when Bond is killing people left right and centre with Daniel Craig’s one facial expression in place to show that he’s ‘cold’ (his bored, looking-at-my-watch face when he’s holding the guy’s arm waiting for him to die is pretty funny). The whole opera sequence - the one bit of coolness in the whole film. Dumping Mathis in the biffa bin, not even covering him up with bin bags, because he’s such a cold, bastard-like cold bastard with revenge issues. Him kissing Gemma Arteton’s back… actually that’s a BAD part, do they want us to hate Daniel Craig or what?? How can he still be so cold and bastard-y when he’s just shagged THAT???

OK OK it’s not the worst Bond ever, but they can’t give us something as brilliant as CR and then throw it back in our faces with something this mindless. Just because it’s dark, got lots of action (albeit too much CG), and Bond is a cold-hearted bastard fuck doesn’t automatically make it good.

By performingmonkey
November 17, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

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> I’m betting half of his performance is on the cutting room floor.

The makers are emphatic in the LACK of deleted scenes. Extra coda aside, Wilson, Broccoli and Forster all say there wasn’t much of anything dropped. it’s the shape it was intended to be.

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By Andrew
November 17, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

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I finally got round to seeing this the other night. It’s possible that I’m biased by the fact that I watched it then went home and was violently ill for twelve hours, but I thought it was weak.

Its biggest problem is that they’ve remade Bond into a convincing and three-dimensional character, but still insist on pitting him against the sort of cardboard cutout cartoon bad guys we saw during the Brosnan era. I was willing to overlook Le Chiffre; tear duct aside, he was utterly faithful to Fleming’s characterisation, and the character arguably works better with today’s level of technology than he did at the time of his conception. Greene, on the other hand, has been created entirely by the present writers, and they have to take responsibility for his monumentally unconvincing nature. I was constantly expecting him to sprout a moustache, twirl it and vanish in a puff of smoke. I actually like the idea of stockpiling water, which is sufficiently low-key to be plausible, but the moment when he double-crossed the General was so clichéd I was actually surprised that they’d gone for it. The opera scene was lovely, but the Quantum’s lack of motivation is screaming throughout the picture. What do they want? They’ve obviously got all the money they could ever spend already, and there’s no trace of a political ideology on show.

By Julian Hazeldine
November 17, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

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>I watched it then went home and was violently ill for twelve hours

That was Ebert’s review, too.

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By Phil Reed
November 17, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

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For me (and this goes for any film, in truth) each element (casting, script, aesthetic etc.) has to be absolutely bang on for the entire enterprise to work. For whatever reason, I really consider that the score has an almost disproportionate importance, as a great soundtrack can add so much but a weak score undermines absolutely everything. This is why I say a series can be half-cocked by its music, because at best it can only be as good as its score.

Ever since his ‘Stargate’-era beginnings, I’ve generally considered Arnold an enthusiastic but pretty derivative writer. Despite his obvious love for the ‘Barry sound’, to me his understanding of the great man’s work is actually pretty superficial: by comparison, Giacchino’s score for ‘The Incredibles’ is an incredibly knowing and detailed take on JB’s sixties work and manages to be a good soundtrack into the bargain. Arnold, however, seems to have cornered the market on 007’s official activities and it’s something I find a bit depressing.

As for the theme song, it just frustrates me that there are ‘pop’ acts out there who have long echoed Barry in their work, but Arnold/Eon’s choices (Sheryl Crowe, Garbage, Madonna, Cornell and so on) seem completely at odds with that.

However, I do agree that some of the none-Barry choices just didn’t work (Conti’s being particularly odd), but I do have a soft spot for Hamlisch’s take. I was nine when I got the OST for The Spy Who Loved Me and, 31 years ago, I thought that the track ‘Bond ‘77’ was the most exciting thing I’d ever heard! Hahaha those were happy days.

By yted
November 17, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

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Yeah, Hamlisch’s score gets away with a lot because it’s so…enthusiastic. :-)

As to the rest, if Arnold ain’t your bag, baby, then that’s pretty much that. I think his last two Bonds have been splendid - and certainly not lazy or half-cocked. So his return doesn’t depress me in the slightest!

While I like the Incredibles score, I genuinely don’t think going the 60s route is a good idea at all - you have to do Barry as he would be now (minus his parody excesses, which would be ill-suited to the current 007). And Barry personally recommended Arnold for his mantle.

The songs are, indeed, all over the place - but it’s a nightmare to make the choice. Those who ARE influenced by Barry risk sounding like they’re trying to hard. Evolution is necessary (which, okay, doesn’t excuse the death-to-eardrums Madonna nightmare), and trying to be a sound-alike wouldn’t be applauded by Barry any more than anyone else.

Plus: Cornell’s song was great. So, erm, there.

Andrew's picture

By Andrew
November 18, 2008 @ 1:26 am

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If you want to hear idiots being so completely wrong about Bond give this Podcast a listen:

They start on QoS about 25 minutes in.

Jonathan Capps's picture

By Jonathan Capps
December 05, 2008 @ 5:01 am

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I swear, if the ‘host’ says “literally” one more time I’m going to fly to America and stove his head in with a tyre iron.

Jonathan Capps's picture

By Jonathan Capps
December 05, 2008 @ 5:12 am

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Never. Post. That. Again.

Hmm, one of them thinks Joe Don Baker played Felix Leiter.

Andrew's picture

By Andrew
December 05, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

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