One of the reasons many people seem to think it's Not Great is its weak villain, and it's fair to say that - as short French Bond baddies go - Mathieu Amalric's Dominic Greene is even less terrifying than Hervé Villechaize's Nick Nack from The Man With The Golden Gun. But to suggest that Quantum Of Solace has a weak villain is not true; in fact Bond faces two enemies besides Greene, and they're among the most formidable foes the series has ever seen.
The first was the Writers' Guild Of America strike of 2007-8, which struck at just the wrong time for Bond #22. Paul Haggis handed his Quantum Of Solace rewrite in just two hours before the strike began, and it shows. Several scenes and stretches of dialogue make little sense; it's taken me five viewings and some heavy use of the pause and rewind buttons just to decipher what's going on in the early scenes in Haiti between Bond, Camille, Greene, Mr Slate and the dead geologist*. It's the kind of thing that should have been tidied up with a script polish that never happened.
The second agent of evil to attempt to destroy Bond is second unit director Dan Bradley.
Fresh off the back of two hyper-kinetic Bourne films, Bradley came to Quantum Of Solace with the specific intention of editing Bond to death. Orchestrating several potentially terrific set-pieces as if they're happening inside a washing machine that's been pushed down a flight of stairs, Bradley is the diabolical mastermind of the incomprehensible action sequence. The blocking, shooting and cutting of the scene in which rogue MI6 agent Mitchell helps Mr White escape is so baffling that it's impossible to tell who's shooting who and who's running where; at one point it appears that M's been shot, only for her to reappear unhurt in the next scene without explanation. You have to literally watch it frame by frame to see that the bullet fired at her actually ricochets off Mr White's drip stand:
Thanks in no small part to these two nefarious villains, the film clumsily clatters through its brief running time (at 106 minutes, it's the shortest Bond film), always desperate to race to the next location or skip over another bit of bewildering dialogue. It all happens so quickly that Bond doesn't even get time to shag Camille, the poor bastard.
Fortunately, however, there's one thing at the axis of the Quantum Of Solace centrifuge which just about stops everything spinning out of control, and that's Daniel Wroughton Craig.
With his Bond having failed to save Vesper from drowning in a sinking lift, Craig has learned his lesson and rescues Quantum Of Solace from a similar fate simply by being completely ace in every scene. Observe the gusto with which he throws himself into the action scenes; how he convincingly fails to convince M that Vesper wasn't important to him; his impatience with M's chief of staff, Tanner (slight niggle: Ian Fleming wrote Tanner as Bond's only friend in MI6, and has never been satisfyingly portrayed as such in the films); the casual manner with which he waits for Mr Slate to bleed to death, or his nonchalant escape from MI6 agents in the La Paz hotel.
Craig is a magnetic presence on screen, and his ability to salvage a mediocre Bond film is the best reason to be jazzed about what he might do with a truly great one. And that's why it's impossible for me not to soil myself with excitement that at last, it's October 2012, and BlogalongaBond is about to end with an almighty bang.
David Arnold's score
And finally: I don't even understand how this works.
Bond and Agent Fields are in a hotel room. They met about ten seconds ago.
I can't find the, um... the stationery.
Come and help me look.
BlogalongaBond will return with Skyfall
What the hell is BlogalongaBond? I'll tell you.
* As far as I can tell: Camille is a (possibly ex-) Bolivian Secret Service agent using Greene to get to General Medrano for personal reasons. At the same time, she tries to buy a report from a geologist to uncover Greene's dirty deeds. Greene finds out and kills the geologist, then pays assassin Mr Slate (using Quantum's tagged banknotes) to act as the geologist and set up a fake meeting with Camille at which he will kill her. Unfortunately for Mr Slate, Bond gets to him first and Bournes him to death in his hotel room before taking his place: that's why Camille thinks Bond's a geologist. Obvious really.