Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Quantum of Solace is lousy says director of Green Lantern

Okay, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way first. You’re one to talk, Mr Martin Campbell. I mean it’s not as if The Green Lantern is ever going to be confused with The Dark Knight. Didn’t you also direct …

Mon, Jun 20, 2011, 18:41

   

Okay, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way first. You’re one to talk, Mr Martin Campbell. I mean it’s not as if The Green Lantern is ever going to be confused with The Dark Knight. Didn’t you also direct the useless Beyond Borders and the idiotic Vertical Limit? You have hardly earned the right to throw the first stone, mate.

“Right? Who are you again?”

Okay, now that’s off our chest, let’s acknowledge that Campbell did a fine job of reinventing the Bond franchise with Casino Royale. Yes, that film owed a little too much to the Bourne trilogy — run, run, run along that girder, Daniel! — but it reintroduced danger to 007 and successfully toned down the series’ suffocating excesses of camp.

So, Campbell is in a position to comment on Quantum of Solace. “I thought it was lousy,” he has said. “I just thought the story was pretty uninteresting. I didn’t think the action was related to the characters. I just thought overall it was a bit of a mess really.”

Campbell is not the first person from Team Casino to dump on Quantum of Solace. Last year, Paul Haggis, credited as co-writer on both films, sniffed in disgust when I mentioned that muddled film. “On Casino Royale they shot every word,” he reasoned. “On Quantum of Solace they began changing it immediately after I’d finished. What can you do? The director is in charge. He’s always in charge. If, as a director, you let yourself be influenced, then that’s your fault.”

It is hard to think of another film that so efficiently annihilated quite so much good will. For decade after decade, the Bond producers threatened to return to the spirit of Ian Fleming’s cynical, brutal, borderline (sometimes not-so-borderline) racist books. Time and again, they failed to deliver on their promise. The films remained jokey, muddled and thrown-together. Never have so many sharks been jumped. Remember Vijay Amritraj wielding a tennis racket on Octopussy? What about the invisible car in Die Another Day?

Casino Royale really did capture some of the propulsive nastiness of the original text (they even referenced the scene where Le Chiffre whacked Bond’s testicles with a carpet beater). It had its flaws. But it felt like a proper movie.

And then Quantum of Solace. Earlier this month, we moaned that too many contemporary mainstream films are far too long. It is, however, worth being suspicious when a prestige picture such as this clocks in at a neat 106 minutes. The film appeared to have been cut to ribbons, rendering the story utterly impossible to follow. Can you remember what the thing was about?

Anyway, Sam Mendes is at the helm for Bond 23 and he will surely do better. He could hardly do worse.

What might it be called? If they stick with the current series’ habit of dredging up available Fleming titles, we are left with The Property Of A Lady, Risico and The Hildebrand Rarity (all from unfilmed short stories). The first sounds like a Henry James adaptation. The second is too easy to forget. The third gives off too many echoes of Robert Ludlum. Good luck, Sam.

Not a real poster.

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