Describing Quantum of Solace is quite hard, but I think the best way to put it is: Quantum of Solace is a really good film made really, really badly. Specifically edited badly. If you jacked up a neurotic nine-year-old social media influencer with ADHD on cocaine and told them to edit together a Bond movie, this would probably be the result.
Seriously, the editing of this movie is so bizarre that is 100% merits being spoken about before plot characters or where this film stands in the franchise as a whole. Every single scene – be it action or a quiet conversation – is cut to shreds. In one scene I counted 5 cuts (all less than a second) subsequently occurring one after the other. And this wasn’t an isolated instance. I counted similar numbers of cuts occurring in just about every scene. My thinking is that they filmed every scene one hundred times from several angles or had tens of cameras pointing at every scene being played out, and the director was very strict about making sure a shot from each and every possible perspective made it into every scene of the film. Fight scenes are a blur. Unless it’s Bond fighting just one guy (which it frequently isn’t), you can hardly tell what is going on or who the film is showing you. Most the dudes in this film are lean, white and wear similar clothes. So without longer shots for us to identify Daniel Craig from his perceived clones, it’s extremely hard to tell who is where and doing what when action plays out.
On the flipside, this film also has some of the better action scenes in Craig’s Bond’s outing. I like the short, less than 60 second brawl he has with a lead he’s supposed to interrogate in Haiti. It’s quick, suitably brutal and one of the only instances where the weird editing and shaky camera actually make the action better, because the whole setup is that Bond is ambushed by this guy. There’s also a few cool vehicle scenes which (except from the opening car chase) are all easy to follow. Bond has one vehicle. The baddies have another, whether it’s boats or planes, this movie’s got it.
But when the quiet scenes following the action have the same insane editing as the action, it’s hard to settle down and appreciate what you’ve just seen and are now seeing. It turns the pacing into a mess because the film is so demanding of your attention. You feel like every second of this movie is longer than it’s supposed to be, despite this being one of the shorter Bond films at just over 90 minutes long (not accounting for credits).
I know what you’re thinking; how can anything about this film be great if I had to spend this long just setting up how awfully it presents itself? Well because the story, tone and atmosphere are all about as perfect as they possibly could be in so far as being a sequel to Casino Royale. Believe it or not, Quantum of Solace still walks the line between silliness and the brutality introduced by Casino Royale very well. While it pushes your suspension of disbelief in some areas, it reels it in back to believability moments later.
I also like the mini plot twist that happens towards the end; for this whole film we’ve been led to believe that Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) has stumbled upon oil in Bolivia and is buying up all the land so he can become super rich. In reality the land has most of Bolivia’s natural water and the land ownership gives him control over the new dictator he’s recently installed in the country. It’s smart. I know. Smart being used to describe a film edited by someone who just saw the icon of a pair of scissors on the editing software and went to town.
Another good thing about this movie is the intro. Like Casino Royale (the bar by which I now measure most Bonds), it has a pretty good song and title sequence that is good to look at. Some Bond intros have you bored. Maybe the music is good but the sequence is boring as hell. Maybe the sequence is interesting but the song sucks. Not the case here. Craig’s run of films is so far two for two when it comes to good intros.
So would I recommend Quantum of Solace? Seeing as it’s the only movie that simultaneously looks and feels like a multimillion dollar movie while also being made as though it was a B-movie with a tight budget… I don’t know? If you like Craig’s Bond then yes. If Craig’s era isn’t your thing and you haven’t seen this yet, then it’s the last one you want to watch to convince you, at least from a filmmaking standpoint. You don’t need to have been to film school to apply the ‘headache inducing‘ tag to this, that’s for sure. Anyway, jabs at the editing aside, that’s my very conflicted stance on Quantum of Solace. I suppose I’ll finish off by saying it’s okay… Okay-ish. It’s okay-ish.