Back in 2006 Casino Royale reinvented Bond much in the same way that Nolan breathed life into the Batman franchise. Both were drowning under the cheesy weight of their predecessors and both benefited mightily from a darker, edgier take, with Daniel Craig storming into Bond’s shoes and creating a character who was more dangerous, more damaged, and more interesting. Plus, as mentioned several times in the Cinemafool review (Nov 2006) he also had lovely thighs.
Second time round Bond had the same challenge as Batman – gone was the shock of seeing a new take on a familiar character, and up were the expectations on where they’d go next. Nolan trumped himself with Dark Knight, building on his foundations and moving further into the new direction with startling results. Bond, however… To put it one way, Bond went to the shops for bread and cheese but got distracted by the magazines and forgot his initial purpose. Bond ended up having dry toast instead of the cheese toastie he so craved. Bond was disappointed.
It starts off reasonably promising. A slightly chaotic car advert / road chase (which could have had way more impact if the editing had slowed down a little so we could tell what on earth was happening), followed by moody torture and an ooo baddy moment, followed by second chase sequence, only this one’s on foot. Bond is still angry after the ending to Casino Royale (and I am too frankly – it being 20 minutes too long) so he stalks around a lot looking moody with M trotting after him, tutting. So far, so ‘slightly silly but done well’ Bond. But as the plot meanders off into a string of “go here, meet them, chase with transport, fight! Wear new outfit. Go over there, meet that person, run away on transport! Fight. Change outfit,” the novelty of an angry Bond begins to wear off, and he becomes not so much angry as just a bloke who goes places and chases people.
The Big Bad is just some guy who sells stuff and manipulates people and, well, who knows – the plot was either too complicated or not interesting enough for me to bother to pay attention. The big evil master plan isn’t all that evil or master, really, and its connection to Bond’s quest for solace from his hurting heart is flimsy, leaving an ending that’s more “huh…that it?” than “wow” or “ooo he used a naughty word.” Lady interest either lacks the romance or is easily throw-away. And – biggest flaw in the world – not once, not one single solitary time did his lovely thighs come out. No short shorts, no water scene. No lovely thighs. Not a quantum of thigh. Rubbish!
The usual lovely Craig can’t even save this, his brown-beaten moody glare feels quashed somehow, the initial flickers of characterisation from the first are fizzled out. Though he still packs a Bourne-like punch in the one-to-one combat, and his prickly confrontations with Dench, superb as ever as the all powerful M, are good fun to watch, this is a very subdued Bond. Quantum of Solace is not a Bond of old –sexy, suave, silly – nor is it the promised new Bond from the trailer, the one who stalks over the horizon with a big fuck-off gun. This is a blah-Bond. A bland-Bond. A forgot-the-cheese-for-my-toastie-Bond.
With an irritation already ingrained since every single product known to man is clinging to Bond’s feet (phones, cameras, cars, confectionary, computer games, credit cards… fuck off!) and an indifference to the Bond genre to start with, this was already fighting a slightly inclined battle. But having promised a refreshing take in Casino Royale, this next step is backwards and slightly to the side, with less wows, less plot and absolutely no thighs. Though more Bond-happy fans might find a little more to enjoy, Cinemafool (whose opinion is of more importance) gives only a small quantum of praise, and therefore a CF-2. Bad Bond. Go put your shorts on and we might forgive you.