Quantum of Solace: Most Successful Bond Ever?


Kingsley Amis once wrote that those readers who disapprove of James Bond make Ian Fleming’s super spy “sound like a systematic onslaught on everything decent and sensible in modern life.” Amis, a Bond enthusiast who authored his own 007 novel under the pseudonym Robert Markham, rejected the idea that the character was an idealization of colonial decadence and white male privilege—or, in fact, an idealization of anything. “[I]f Bond’s sexual qualifications were to become standardized as basic female demand,” Amis wrote, “more than one kind of male would start finding himself very much in undemand.” It was better, Amis argued, to see the 007 yarn for what it was: “harmless tomfoolery.”

Forty-six years after Dr. No, American moviegoers continue to support Amis’s theory. Quantum of Solace, which brought in $70.4 million this past weekend, will likely be the most financial successful Bond movie ever. As directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner) and scripted by Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) Quantum of Solace is a hack piece of work, which is just as it should be. The Bourne-derived action sequences, including a car chase opener, are visually illegible, and much of the dialogue wooden and laughable. The actor Jeffrey Wright, who returns as C.I.A. operative Felix Leiter, appears to believe that he is sulking in a tropical locale (regardless of the actual location) somewhere in a Graham Greene novel. Still, Daniel Craig, whenever he is given the chance, proves once again to be among the most compelling of 007s. Scolded over and over again by Judi Dench’s M for killing men he’s supposed to bring back alive, Craig can only keep repeating that he’s trying not to kill them. Old habits—and, thank god, the tomfoolery—die hard, even for a sixth-generation Bond.—Benjamin Strong