Daniel Craig’s second screening outing as James Bond kicks off where his first left off. Literally. Quantum of Solace starts half an hour after the end of Casino Royale with a scorching car chase along a twisting corniche road that sees Bond’s Aston Martin DBS V12 elude his pursuers in a blur of fast cutting.
From then on, the pace barely lets up as a grief-stricken Bond seeks vengeance for the death of the love of his life, Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, and uncovers the existence of a shadowy international crime organisation named (in a lame effort to justify the movie’s rashly chosen title) Quantum.
But an emotionally numb 007 means that there’s no place for the familiar quips we’ve come to expect from Bond and means that he only has a very chaste relationship with the film’s Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko’s similarly driven and vengeful Camille. In fact, Bond’s mood and the film’s tempo means there’s barely enough time to squeeze in the briefest of dalliances with Gemma Arterton’s sparky consular official, Fields, a rushed liaison that barely raises a smile from Craig’s dour agent.
Indeed, the film is so grim that you have to wait until the credits before you get a joke – the full name of Arterton’s character turns out to be Strawberry Fields. Personally, I’d much rather have Craig’s dourness than, say, Roger Moore’s cheesiness, but producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have gone too far, even for me, in their quest to take Bond back to basics.
I don’t mind losing the groan-inducing puns and the gimmicky gadgets, but strip Bond down too much and he begins to resemble Jason Bourne – and I’d rather have a first-rate Bond than a second-hand Bourne.
No, the next time we see Craig’s Bond, let him lighten up a little, let him take a breather from the action now and then, and let him, please, deliver the phrase so sadly missing – with much else – from Quantum: “The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
(Released 23rd March)
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Who is the Best Bond? Sky Movies Modern Greats will let viewers compare four of the leading contenders over the weekend of 27th-29th March with a marathon of ten Bond movies. Broadcast back to back in HD are Sean Connery‘s 007 sextet: Dr No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever; Roger Moore‘s first two Bonds: Live and Let Die and The Man with The Golden Gun; Pierce Brosnan‘s Tomorrow Never Dies; and Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale.