Starting immediately after Casino Royale finishes, Quantum Of Solace starts with Bond interrogating Mr White to learn more about the mysterious organisation he works for. Whilst following leads to the organisation- Quantum- Bond, still seeking vengeance for the death of his lover Vesper, comes into contact with environmentalist Dominic Greene whose philanthropy masks a more sinister plan.
The opening section of the film is just astounding – the car chase through the Italian countryside leading into the fight scene at the Palio horse-race in Siena is just outstanding. The section in Austria during the opera Tosca is very well done as well, athough Bond does have a point- every time I’ve been to the opera, people get glared at and shushed if they so much as clear their throat, let alone carry on a conversation.
Mathieu Amalric’s performance as Dominic is that of a stereotypical sociopathic villain which is disappointing. Even as an agent of Quantum, he doesn’t impress. The plan is interesting- an environmentalist planning to hold Bolivia’s water supply to ransom- but the performance just isn’t there. It also doesn’t help that his henchman Elvis- Anatole Taubman- is a buffoon. However, Greene’s demise at the end of the film is quite appropriate and satisyfing.
Luckily the rest of the cast turn in decent performances to compensate Gemma Arterton is good as Agent Fields, Bond’s link in Bolivia. It’s very much a supporting role and she doesn’t last long before she’s offed: left on Bond’s bed, drowned in oil (a not-so-subtle homage to Jill Masterson’s death in Goldfinger). Olga Kurylenko gives a strong performance as Camille, a former Bolivian secret service who is romantically linked to Greene. She has her own agenda- seeking revenge for the death of her family- and teams up with Bond in order to see it through. The lack of a romantic relationship between Camille and Bond is refreshing- both are hurting, damaged people and seeking closure.
Giancarlo Giannini gives a decent turn as Bond’s contact Mathis, as does Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, both reprising their roles from Casino Royale. Indeed, with the ongoing plotlines of Quantum and who was blackmailing Vesper, this could have easily been Casino Royale: Part Two. It does feel like the subplot of Greene and the water has been tacked on, as if they needed to find something to flesh the film out.
At a positively svelte 102 minutes, every moment needs to hit its mark- and sadly there are sections that don’t. Marc Forster’s direction is occasionally lacklustre and, much like Casino Royale, the pace lags in places. The announcement of each new location with a title card soon becomes incredibly annoying. The biggest criticism I can probably level at the film is that this is a perfectly serviceable thriller but doesn’t feel like a Bond film.
Rating: 3 out of 5