Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008) is the first sequel in the series, building on the narrative of Casino Royale. While it shares the former’s stylistic aspirations, the film’s execution ranks among the lesser entries in the franchise. Quantum of Solace is chaos. The plot is convoluted and confusing, the style is overwrought and overwhelming. The pre-credits sequence makes clear that the filmmakers take inspiration from contemporary successes like The Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007) rather than pursuing the logic of Casino Royale. As a result, the film feels disjunctive, never assured and focused.
Overall, Quantum of Solace may be described as an overindulgent film. Its insistence on artsy framing and heavy-handed cross-cutting is not in servive of plot or character, but visual excess. While there are some impressive shots, especially Bond’s walk through the desert, much of the film feels like loosely connected vignettes. Craig’s performance is more on edge, showing more anger and aggressiveness which lends the film a serious tone the visuals and the languid plot are unable to sustain.
Nevertheless, the film’s overbearing style eventually finds nuance in a remarkable sequence at the Bregenz opera house in Austria. The musical excess gives meaning to the quick edits and the on-screen running. Bond exposes an entire syndicate through his wit, captured through a series of stunning close-ups and inserts. The ensuing chase is a remarkable display of what quick cuts and expressionistic framing can achieve. The sequence expertly conveys the surrounding panic that engulfs the setting.
Ultimately, Quantum of Solace does not live up to Casino Royale and the close affiliation makes it easier to dismiss the film as a lesser effort in the series. Yet, the film has ambition and vision for Bond even as it lacks a successful execution. Yet, its modest success and further financial complications associated with Bond rights holder MGM derailed the series for the five years. Its return, however, would prove a step into the right direction.
This blog will return with … Skyfall.