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Things We Saw Today: Why Quantum of Solace Was the Worst New Bond Movie

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Quantum of Solace

When I wrote recently about my love for James Bond and general affection for the updated, Daniel Craig-starring franchise, there was one movie I did not touch upon: Quantum of Solace. Or rather, I made a joke that I had undergone the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind procedure in order to forget that Quantum of Solace ever existed. If only such science were really available.

The second film in the Craig-as-Bond run, Quantum of Solace followed the success of Casino Royale with … a movie that James Bond was in. It seemed to suffer from sequel syndrome, both underbaked and overwrought, and it’s also just … weird, down to the dialogue, shooting, and chaotic editing. It’s not a terrible movie, as far as movies go, and it still made a bunch of money. But it’s all over the place, as well as the most violent Bond film ever made—because action had to take the place of a coherent script.

A lot of the unevenness be chalked up, as director Marc Forster did, to the fact that there was a writers’ strike on in Hollywood and the production began with an unfinished script, a time crunch, and was told to just keep going regardless. Back in 2016, Forster mused about Quantum, which he’d thought about exiting at one point:

I thought, ‘Okay maybe I should pull out’ because we didn’t have a finished script. But everybody said, ‘No we need to make a movie, the strike will be over shortly so you can start shooting what we have and then we’ll finish everything else.’ I said ‘Yeah but the time crunch’.

“So ultimately I said ‘Okay’. The idea was to make a follow-up to Casino Royale and ultimately I felt like, ‘Okay worst case scenario the strike goes on, I’ll just make it sort of like a 70s revenge movie; very action driven, lots of cuts to hide that there’s a lot of action and a little less story. To disguise it.”

Right, so, the primary issue with Quantum of Solace is that there’s less story and a confusing script that was still in development. Forster also points out the difficulty of trying to provide an original arc after Casino Royale, which was based upon the first and one of the best-known Ian Fleming James Bond novels. Craig’s Bond didn’t fully hit his stride and come to reckon with himself and MI6 until Skyfall.

The overall head-scratching Quantum decisions that these conditions induced are explored in a delightful new video from Screen Rant’s Ryan George, told as a fictional pitch meeting. These comedic pitch meetings form a larger series; you can watch the one for Loki here.

In a conversation between an imagined Quantum story pitcher and a Hollywood exec—both played by George—he runs through the stacked absurdities of Quantum. Elements that stick out are how oddly reliant the movie is on the events and emotions of Casino Royale, even though the Bond films tend to be more standalone, the harmless-sounding villain “Dominic Greene,” and some action pieces that defy reality even in the world of Bond. This”pitch meeting” is a fun watch even if you’ve never watched Quantum of Solace or know what a Quantum of Solace is (still unclear on that myself).

Ironically enough, while Greene’s villainous motivations were convoluted, his plans to control the water supply and manipulate natural resources for his own ends actually resonate even more now than they did back in 2008.

Also, bonus points for featuring my favorite opera, Tosca, in that extremely elaborate opera-going scene. For this alone I will forgive Quantum of Solace a lot. “Tosca isn’t for everyone,” a character exclaims here. I beg to differ. You be the judge:

It’s Labor Day here in America. What did you see out there today?

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.