Starring: Daniel Craig, Olge Kurylenko, Matthieu Almaric, Gemma Arterton, Judi Dench

Director: Marc Forster

Screenplay: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade

Cinematography: Roberto Schaefer

Original Score: David Arnold

Running Time: 106 mins.

Casino Royale was always going to be a hard act to follow regardless of the talent on board. Not only was Royale considered the best. most faithful adaptation of Flemyng’s spy from page to screen but it was the highest grossing Bond film ever! And despite much pre-film protestation against Daniel Craig as the new Bond because he’s blonde, seemingly, as it turned out he was hailed as the best Bond by many once everyone actually saw his performance. Personally I loved Royale but wish it hadn’t been such a stripped back Bond, lacking the likes of Q and the more gimmicky gadgets (I can live without invisible cars though!). The other issue I had with Royale was that despite an excellent humanisation of Bond as a person, by Craig, the script afforded him very little time to show any warmth or likeability, and fundamentally no quips, a humourless 007 makes for a all too moody 007!

Which brings me to … Quantum Of Solace, a film that, if nothing else rectifies my problems with its prequel. Yes, picking pretty much immediately after Royale’s climax we zoom in to Bond fleeing a number of henchmen, whilst dodging  on-coming traffic in order to transport Mr. White (who was last seen having been shot in the leg) for interrogation in Siena. The action here comes thick and fast, with those who critisized Royale for a lack of action last time round catered for endlessly! Ordinarily I’d not see this as a problem, and in the hands of a seasoned action director it wouldn’t be. Forster may be a lot of things (he made the fantastic Stranger Than Fiction and The Kite Runner) but Martin Campbell he is not! Despite the many set pieces which cross most vehicular chases of the list, motorbike, plane, car, bike, boat…. there is no single standout scene that comes to mind and that is simply because everything is edited so frantically you barely have time to appreciate whether and of the people involved are in danger, let alone have it slow down long enough to recognise anyone from the flurry of editing.

A prime example is the pre-credit sequence, the weakest in my memory, where in the right hands it could well have been one of the most exciting. Its such a shame that the scene has simply been squandered in the editing suite, as many of the other action scenes are given the same treatment, cut far too close and edited for too quickly. It’s nigh on impossible to tell whats going on meaning anything you may or may not feel for those concerned is non-existant, all this and with the exception of Almaric’s head baddie Green, each villain is a faceless thug simply there to be dispensed by Bond. This is the norm for a Bond film I hear you cry, and I would have to agree it is, but the difference here is not even Bond himself stands out amidst the flurry of action.

Which brings me to the man himself, Daniel Craig has truly made the role his own simply reinforcing the good work he did with the character last time round. I loved that this time he is also afforded much more of a humouress and witty touch, with some fantastically wry one liners, delivered so as not to be too cheesy (as Brosnan had a tendency to do). Also much like Brosnan Craig has grown into his confidence with the film and I suspect in the inevitable next chapter we will see him develope the character furthermore, not only as a person (something all before have struggled to do film by film), but also in a way that he becomes much more Bond like (womanising, ruthless, clever, charming etc etc) all being traits we have this time seen him earn and grow into.

As for the girls, well Gemma Arterton is afforded a brief part but is paid off with a soon to be iconic shot harking back to a Bond girl of old. It’s Kurylenko, though who makes the biggest impression, looking stunning whether dressed up or covered in mud she has the acting chops to match her looks. Despite a very generic revenge plot and no romantic link with Bond, she makes the most of her part creating a level of respect with Bond over their personal goals. As the villain of the piece Almaic is also fighting a losing battle with a generic script, but much like Kurylenko with the looks, he has the required evil-ness needed to make him a formidable Bond foe, requiring no tics (i.e. bleeding eye, cat, hook) but his almost shark-like eyes, exuding menace and a spontaneity that makes him a strangely topical voillain for our times.

On the edge of all the action stands Judi Dench as M, developing her character and relationship with Bond more than ever before, it’s in scenes like this that Forster is allowed to do what he does best, direct ‘people’. Why he was ever hired when the script was this action packed with so little scenes of character shall forvever remain a mystery!

VERDICT

It’s not bad, but neiter is it good enough, especially after Casino Royale, I’d hoped for much more from Forster but action doesnt appear to be his forte, a problem considering the film has almost non stop set piece after set piece, they aren’t bad just badly edited meaning only certain shots get to shine through as memorable rather than scenes as a whole. Thankfully Craig continues to impress, with added humour this time, and the cast are all fantastic with Judi Dench’s M a standout, the producers just need to stop striving to be like Bourne so much, this is supposed to be Bond!

grade-c

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