Bond evolution – Quantum of Solace (#22)

“This was a rubbish film,” Husband said to me before we watched it again. I didn’t remember it being rubbish, so I went into it with an open mind. It turns out Husband had to eat his words, this film was actually a quite good full-on action film.

This film starts timewise just moments after the end of Casino Royale with a car chase in Italy ending in Siena during the Palio horse race. Bond has Mr White in the trunk of his car and he’s delivering him for questioning.

The opening credits roll with sandy women dancing around Daniel Craig. This film will have something to do with sand and deserts. The theme tune by Jack While and Alicia Keys, Another Way to Die (why wasn’t this the film’s title? Quantum of Solace is a stupid name) has a rough rocky White Stripes sound with twinkly piano in it. It’s not amazing but it’s not a bad song.

M is on hand to question the man Bond has brought in. “We have people everywhere,” Mr White says, before M’s bodyguard pulls out his gun and starts shooting so Mr White can escape. Bond chases M’s bodyguard across the rooftops of Siena and through the excited Palio crowd before eventually killing him. M is understandably horrified that someone so close to her is a traitor. But who is this “we” he was working for?

This film zips around its exotic locations as Bond racks up a huge amount of air miles. Italy to London, to Haiti, to Austria, and to Bolivia, with a small film epilogue in Kazan, Russia. Virgin Airlines must have paid well for the product placement in this film.

The bodyguard had a contact in Haiti so Bond travels out there where he meets Camille Montes, girlfriend of environmentalist Dominic Greene, who is the villain of this film. Camille is the woman of this film and – spoilers here – possibly the only female partner Bond has worked with who doesn’t die and who he doesn’t sleep with. (I know, read that last part again… how things have changed!)

The villainous plot is that Dominic Greene is quietly acquiring seemingly worthless land all over the world, supposedly for environmental purposes but when Bond listens in on a meeting of Green and his co-conspirators at a performance of Tosca in Bregenz, Austria, they refer to the land holding a “most precious resource.”

Bond follows Greene to Bolivia where he’s met at La Paz airport by Fields from the British consulate who has been tasked with putting Bond back on the next flight out. Husband raised the valid point – embassies and consulates have security staff. So why then, when notorious womaniser James Bond flies in, do they send the young, pretty redhead out to meet him and put him back on the next plane? “Do you have a first name?” Bond asks her. “Just Fields,” she answers in a tone that brooks no further discussion. It’s not until the end credits are rolling I see her full name – Strawberry Fields. (I guess that teenage man-boy responsible for naming the female characters still has a job then.)

She should have resisted when Bond asked her to help him “look for the stationery” in their hotel room. Things don’t end well for her.

In Bolivia, we learn that Greene is supporting a military overthrow of the government in exchange for a package of seemingly worthless land. The General looking to take over the government is the same General who killed Camille’s family and she is looking for revenge, that’s why she has got so close to Greene, in order to get to the General.

We see Bond and Camille in a desert village where the villagers are standing by a water tap with nothing coming out, and here the true nature of Greene’s villainous plot is revealed. He’s not looking for oil, he’s getting control of the country’s water supply. (The bones of the plot of this film have their grounding in reality, the Cochabamba Water War was a real occurrence in Bolivia.)

But like Le Chiffre, Greene is working for someone. A secret organisation that MI6 have no idea about. Mr White had time to laugh at this ignorance before he escapes. “You really don’t know anything about us, do you? It’s so amusing, because we are on the other side, thinking “Oh, the MI6, the CIA, they’re watching over our shoulders, they’re listening to our conversations.” And the truth is, you don’t even know we exist!

The film has a final scene in Kazan, Russia, where Bond (*spoilers coming*) finally gets some revenge for Vesper Lynd’s death.

I noticed the big jump in technology in this film. In Casino Royale people were using those brick-like but reliable early mobile phones on which you could do nothing but make calls, send texts and play Snake. In this film, MI6 suddenly has virtual walls of data, people can tap tap on their laptop and data displays appear hanging in the air.

Film epilogue: having finally achieved revenge for the murder of her family, Camille returns to her home town and spends two days crying and sleeping and crying again. She visits her family’s graves and spends some time talking to them. She sits up late drinking until she passes out. She stays awake all night staring out of the window until the sun comes up and hurts her eyes. She burns all the files on the General she has put together over the years.. She visits a priest. She starts to process thirty years of guilt and sadness and anger. She will eventually be OK, but she will leave Bolivia and work abroad for a number of years.

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