“I don’t have any friends” James Bond proclaims in a manner that is cool, calm and callous. Daniel Craig returns for his second outing as 007. His previous appearance as the suave spy was in Casino Royale, which garnered rave reviews and broke records at the box office.
Quantum of Solace, the 22nd film in the Bond franchise, sees 007 on a revenge mission as he looks to avenge the loss of his lover Vesper Lynd from the previous film. Just like in Casino Royale we get to see the human side of Bond, something which Daniel Craig has nailed perfectly. His ability to convey emotion is second to only his ability to take a beating.
Unlike Casino Royale which was directed by Martin Campbell, a Bond Veteran. This film is directed by Marc Forster best known for Finding Neverland and Monsters Ball. It was clear with Quantum of Solace the director wanted to take the opposite approach to Casino Royale. Quantum is at your throat for the full pedal to the metal 106 minutes, whilst Casino Royale clocks in at 144 minutes and allows the plot to develop, like a fine vintage left in the barrel that little bit longer.
The pace leaves you with a fresh out of the tumble dryer feeling and really lets the film down. Mathieu Almaric plays the Bond villain, but unlike many other archetypal Bond baddies he doesn’t seem to have a speciality or a physical ailment. The writers wanted the Dominic Greene character to be a formidable opponent to Bond by highlighting the fact that it’s a type of villain never encountered by 007 and although Almaric is very good at exuding evil energy, the camera is never in place long enough for it to have an effect.
It wouldn’t be a Bond film without a Bond girl and since the reboot with Casino Royale in 2006; it seems that the ladies are no longer there to be treated as mere objects for 007s pleasure. In this film the character of Camille is as feisty and involved in the action as her predecessor in the previous film. Played by Ukrainian model Olga Kurylenko, Camille works well as a foil for Bond, with both gunning for revenge after having lost someone dear.
But the real star of the film is Daniel Craig. Despite the pace issues and the jumping from one location to the next, Austria, Bolivia, Haiti, Italy and the UK are all visited on this expensive, explosive back pack holiday. Craig holds every scene together; he can play cold hearted killer, emotional wreck or a male chauvinist pig. But his greatest characteristic is his screen presence, almost akin to the late great Steve McQueen. Both have a quality which allows them say little and just let their facial expressions tell the story.
At the end of all the shooting, explosions and chases, Quantum of Solace could do better and is in no way the equal of Casino Royale. It is held together by the glue that is Daniel Craig’s intriguing portrayal of Bond – who I believe is the best thing to happen to franchise since Sean Connery. On this form Daniel Craig is likely to have plenty of friends.