Like many, I was excited to hear that Quantum of Solace would be coming out only two years after Casino Royale (2006). After the success of the first film in the rebooted series, everyone was excited to see where this new Bond would go next. Well…about that….
Quantum of Solace is (to my knowledge) a first for the Bond series. It is the only Bond film I know of to pick up exactly where the previous film left off. Think about it, with the exception of For Your Eyes Only (1981) which references Bond’s wife (as seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) (and a very small reference to Dr. No in From Russia With Love (1963)), no other Bond film refers to any of its predecessors, they can all be viewed in pretty much any order you like. This changes with Craig’s Bond; unlike all the others before him, this series of films retains the consequences of what happens in earlier films. A good case in point would be Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Bond’s one-time love interest. Even though she (spoiler alert) dies in Casino Royale, her presence lingers all the way through Spectre (2015) in one form or another.
The unusual title of the film comes from one of Fleming’s short stories collected under the umbrella title “For Your Eyes Only.” According to Fleming, the term “quantum” refers to the absolute minimum. Therefore, a “quantum of solace” would be the smallest amount of solace (read: consolation) that a person could feel. I believe this refers to Bond’s feelings regarding Vesper’s death and the circumstances behind it (he becomes obsessed tracking down the Quantum organization). Now on to the story…
The characters of Q and Moneypenny are still absent. As the film opens, we find Bond in the midst of a high-speed pursuit with a certain Mr. White (first seen in Casino Royale) unceremoniously tied up in his trunk, after Bond located him at the conclusion of the previous film. (This is the same Mr. White who later appears in Spectre). Bond successfully eludes or destroys his pursuers, and brings White in to M. But before they can question him, M’s bodyguard reveals he is a double agent and helps White to escape before Bond kills him in retaliation. It turns out this agent had a contact in Haiti, a hitman who is now contracted to kill the girlfriend of Dominic Greene, a known environmentalist entrepreneuer.
Through a series of events, Bond realizes that Greene is actually working for the elusive “Quantum” organization, the unnamed group that employed Le Chiffre in the previous movie. Before the studio could reacquire the rights to the “Spectre” name, I believe “Quantum” was supposed to be a sort of replacement, the new arch-villain, as it were. But then he rights to SPECTRE were re-acquired and the point became moot (I could be wrong, but that’s my take on the situation).
Bond is obsessed with vengeance for a good portion of the film (even if he denies it), and wreaks bloody mayhem through a lot of the film (there are 250 distinct acts of violence in the film; by contrast Dr. No has only 109, making this the bloodiest film in the Bond series). I think partially because of the violence, and also because the plot was a little…blah…this film wasn’t as well-received as others, the reviews were decidedly mixed. Craig’s performance was praised, but the supporting details…not so much (I’m not saying ecology is unimportant, it’s just not the first thing you think of for a James Bond plot).
Before I get to the title sequence, I need to talk about my favorite musical sequence in this film. An important moment takes place at the Bregenzer Festspiele in Bregenz, Austria. The festival site features a floating stage on the shores of Lake Constance. During filming, the open-air amphitheatre was host to a performance of Tosca (an opera that centers around a plot of revenge, much like Quantum of Solace)
I love how the music of the opera interweaves with the plot of the story in this scene; it is (for me) very much a predecessor of the opera scene in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)
For Quantum of Solace, the music was again composed by David Arnold, his fifth entry in the series. As in Casino Royale, the classic “James Bond” theme is kept to a minimum (which really bugs me, because, I know this is a “new” Bond, but the theme partially defines the character as a whole, if you don’t have it, is he “really” Bond?)
The song performed for the title sequence is a first: “Another Way to Die” is the first duet in the history of the Bond franchise, and features the voices of Jack White and Alicia Keys. The song was nominated for a Grammy, a Critics’ Choice Award and it won a Satellite Award for Best Original Song. That being said, reception was still mixed. On its own, the song is considered to be good. As a James Bond theme however…not so much (think of the arguments that came up when “Writing on the Wall” was announced as the Spectre theme).
To conclude, I think of the four Craig Bond films, this one is the weakest, especially when you look at what followed (Skyfall and Spectre).
Credit to Art of the Title
Random trivia: Agent Strawberry Fields (yes that is really her name) death is a direct homage to Jill’s death as seen in Goldfinger (1964).
That’s all for Quantum of Solace, next time: Skyfall (2012), arguably the best Bond film ever made. Until then!
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*the poster and images are property of Eon Productions