Quantum of Solace kicks off 30 minutes after Casino Royale ends. Yet, it seems that half-an-hour was plenty of time for an MI6 surgeon to implant a chip in Bond’s brain, ordering him to wipe someone out every three minutes. Preferably while wearing beige jeans.
The 22nd entry in the Bond franchise is a bruising shoot ‘em up, beat ‘em up, blow it up adventure which hits you between the eyes like a runaway Aston Martin.
Daniel Craig’s brutal Bond is on a mission to avenge the death of his beloved Vesper from Casino Royale. There’s no falling in love now, though, as OO7 is so busy beating people up, he can barely squeeze in a quick peck with sacrificial lamb Tess off BBC1’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Gemma Arterton).
Craig does hard-as-nails magnificently, and you can’t imagine any previous Bond – Connery included – thumping people in the mush with quite so much feeling. And if you think the countless stunts look dangerous, they were – Craig sustained a shoulder injury during filming and needed eight stitches in a cut on his face.
Sadly, there’s no walking-out-the-sea-wearing-spray-on-blue-swimming-trunks-moment for the ladies to enjoy this time, but they’ll surely notice Daniel’s perfectly-formed, Levis-clad Harris wiggling away from camera. Not that he can ride a motorbike like Steve McQueen, mind.
Almost as handy as the reborn OO7, Camille (Olga Kurylenko) is, in true Bond-girl style, stunning. But unless she returns in the second sequel to Casino Royale, we’ll never find out what her smile looks like.
Mind you, there’s nothing for her or any of the other characters to laugh about. The bodies stack up like gambling chips (the award of a 12A certificate must have been by the skin of movie’s teeth) as Bond gets closer to understanding why underwhelming baddie Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric) of the mysterious Quantum organisation is pouring water on troubled oil in Bolivia.
Reassuringly, there are plenty of opportunities for Judi Dench to impress again as M, and the scenes in which Bond spars with his boss over how many people he’s allowed to eliminate without wearing out his licence to kill are among the best.
Sadly, though, along with gadgets, fantasy, tongue-in-cheek humour, use of the Bond theme during the film, the beauty and excitement of Ken Adam’s sets and the sweep and tension of John Barry’s music, Moneypenny and Q seem long retired these days.
Still, Bondians will have great fun spotting the visual nods to Goldfinger, Moonraker and Dr No, unless we dreamt them, of course, subconsciously wishing we were at home watching The Spy Who Loved Me.
This very urban, far from urbane OO7 – moulded largely by Daniel Craig himself, who’s having a very big say in the direction of the franchise – bears little resemblance to the Bond of Ian Fleming’s novels.
Nevertheless, Quantum of Solace is a pulsating action-adventure for the 21st Century’s video-game generation. It will, without doubt, be a big success by most standards. But perhaps not by Bond’s.
Regardless, the story that began in Casino Royale still doesn’t seem quite finished…
James Bond will return.
The World Premiere of Quantum of Solace takes place tonight at The Odeon, Leicester Square, in London, followed immediately by a special gala screening as part of the London Film Festival. The film goes on general release from Friday.