The name might be Bond, but for the first half hour of Quantum of Solace you could be forgiven for thinking it was Bourne…
The latest film in the series picks up shortly after the point where the excellent Casino Royale left off; a first for the 50 year old franchise.
And we join James slap bang (literally) in the middle of high-speed car chase around some perilous mountain roads.
It’s exciting, it’s fast and it’s unexpected.
But the problem is that’s all Bond does for the first thirty minutes: run around crashing/killing/chasing things.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I do like a little plot development between bust-ups. Or just anything to give a change of pace.
I have always liked Bond because he isn’t just an oaf who beats things up for a living.
Well, alright, he does. But at least he usually has a reason. And he does it with style.
Now I have to admit that I had been anaesthetised into a stupor by the endless Bond-related adverts shown in the lead up.
This probably didn’t help.
But I honestly found I didn’t much care. Where is the wit? The charm? The plot?
Hold on Bond fans, it’s ok. He miraculously finds them in airport.
And from then on, the film is pretty much excellent.
Daniel Craig’s James is smarter, wittier and more intense than previous incarnations. His wry observations are clever rather than louche and his taut portayal sucks you in.
Craig also stacks up wonderfully against Judi Dench’s ‘M’. Their relationship is rocky yet touching and truly ‘sparks’.
Olga Kurylenko, too, is absolutely blistering (no tasteless pun intended) as Camille, the ‘damaged goods’ pursuing her own vendetta.
Her blending of a wild passion with a childlike view of the world creates a fantastically fragile character.
The plot, once it kicks in, is also in the realms of the believable. Well and truly gone are the days of the intergalactic giant lasers and tin foil space suits.
It’s good, it’s topical and it’s believable (if a little complex).
And there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer interested.
There were a couple of disappointments though.
Gemma Arterton’s portrayal of prissy Agent Fields smacked a little too much of St Trinians for my liking.
It gave you the rather uncomfortable feeling that Bond had taken to knocking off the Head Girl in his spare time (perhaps there’s a lead for Charlie Higson’s next Young Bond novel….)
David Harbour’s Gregg Beam is also truly dreadful. An out of place stereotype in a movie that is as gritty as the desert it’s filmed in.
On the whole though, the film was a good watch. I’m not sure it quite lived up to my expectations but it has certainly whetted my appetite for the next.
With Bond’s personal vendetta out of the way, now we can hopefully see a return to something more akin to Casino Royale, with Craig’s fascinating portrayal of a compelling 007.
Highlight: Watch out for the comically juxtaposed svelte naked woman next to “and Judi Dench as M” in the opening credits!