Quantum of Solace review: (just) Three Stars

I’ve been brewing over QoS for a while now, and I’m ready to render judgement.

It wasn’t a great movie. It was very nearly not even good.

Let’s see… what went wrong?

Well: Casino Royale set an impossibly high bar, is the short version.

Casino Royale delivered (for Bond) realism and authenticity in its action sequences, a compelling and mildly complex plot, interesting locations, and again, and above all, the return of some authenticity. If I had to sum up Bond 20, it would be “authentic”. A reboot in the truest sense of the word. Like Batman Begins, care was taken with the details, enough that I wasn’t immediately offended or pissed off while watching it (and having my suspension of disbelief shattered by an unrealistic stunt, or a sequence that was clearly CGI, etc, etc).

Whereas Nolan pulled off The Dark Knight with even more of what made the first movie good, reinvigorated Bond fans got the difficult second album.

Quantum of Solace relies on effects and an incomprehensible set of action-cut-sequences, in which the effects shots stand out. The moment in the boat where Olga strikes at the other man (impossible camera shot, so clearly an effect); the weird part where something got attached to another boat somehow; other impossible camera shots; implausible villain’s lair. It was damn near Roger Moore-era over-the-top-ness.

Put another way, I thought the ad for the Sony thingo at the start, where Daniel Craig was getting stoically blasted by explosions and debris, all the while trying to stare sadly at the camera, was the best action sequence in the movie. (Like the “Mad World” Gears of War ad made you wish the story in the game was actually worth a damn and had just a smidgen of poignance). But no. Yes, there was an action sequence montage to arguably inappropriate music, and while the girlie enjoyed that bit, I’ve seen it done better, and less perfunctorily.

And then, when you think things might be calming down… the MI6 computer system was one of those ridiculous Swordfish-class monstrosities. Surface multiplied with some Designers Republic offcuts. Everything seemed to beep and animate and twirl, but how much of it actually looked functional or useful to anyone? Frustration abounded. Does anyone, ever, really expect computers to be magical any more? Do they need to be?

And I felt tired. Bond being cut loose from MI6 (or was it 5?) again? Really? Is that even a plot twist any more, or did Judi Dench die ten years ago, and they’re just compositing her into the scenes with all the same lines? Maybe computers are magical.

Quantum just didn’t work as well on any level, and I’m going to argue that at the end of the day, it was largely due to the direction. The plot could have used work, but I think the disappointingly vague and overly brusque action sequences made the action less fun, and the movie as a whole felt cheap.

I’m hoping this is a momentary mis-step, and that we’ll see more of the smart, realistic Bond we got from Casino Royale, and less of a return to the special effects and plausibility nightmares of Die Another Day.

So, six out of ten. Charitably, 7, but that’s stretching the friendship. Must Do Better.