MIDWAY: Bond power
He’s back. Daniel Craig allays any fear that he was just a one-Martini Bond, with this, his second 007 adventure, the perplexingly named Quantum of Solace. I’ve got to admit that this didn’t excite me as much as Casino Royale and the villain is especially underpowered. But Craig personally has the chops, as they say in Hollywood. He’s made the part his own, every inch the coolly ruthless agent-cum-killer, nursing a broken heart and coldly suppressed rage.
This is a crash-bang Bond, high on action, low on quips, long on location glamour, short on product placement. Under the direction of Marc Forster, the movie ladles out the adrenalin in a string of deafening episodes: car chases, plane wrecks, motor boat collisions. If it’s got an engine, and runs on fuel, and can crash into another similarly powered vehicle, with Bond at the wheel, and preferably with a delicious female companion in the passenger seat.
As in Casino Royale, the famous John Barry theme tune is saved up until the end; a baffling, decision, I always think, not to use this thrilling music at the beginning of the film. Bond has hardly got his 007 spurs, when he’s infuriating M, Judi Dench, with his insolence and insubordination. Out in the field, he’s whacking enemy agents in short, sharp, bone-cracking bursts of violence when he should be bringing them in for questioning.
I was disappointed there was so little dialogue, flirtation and characterisation in this Bond: Forster and his writers Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade clearly thought this sort of sissy nonsense has to be cut out in favour of explosions. Well, perhaps that is what Bond fans want. But set against this is the cool, cruel presence of Craig - his lips perpetually semi-pursed, as if savouring some new nastiness his opponents intend to dish out to him.
This film, unlike the last, doesn’t show him in his powder-blue swimming trunks, but it’s a very physical performance. Quantum of Solace isn’t as good as Casino Royale: the smart elegance of Craig’s Bond debut has been toned down in favour of conventional action. But the man himself powers this movie; he carries the film: it’s an indefinably difficult task for an actor. Craig measures up.