19 December 2008
Dean Shepherd takes a look at the newest James Bond film, 'Quantum of Solace'. ...
You know his name.
Or at least you should do by now. It’s Craig, Daniel Craig, the actor who pretty much reenergised the Bond brand name in 2006’s blockbusting Casino Royale.
Well, recently he was back in another adventure: Quantum of Solace. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. What of what? Read on, and all will soon become clear.
Although Craig may be the toast of the town at the moment, there was a time after Pierce Brosnan stepped down – leaving the franchise 007-less – that he was far from everyone’s favourite choice (other potentials included erstwhile Wolverine Hugh Jackman and Sin City’s Clive Owen).
The casting of a ‘Blonde Bond’ was one of the most controversial in the movie series’ long and varied history.
Thankfully, he proved all of the naysayers wrong and Casino Royale, the 21st official film featuring Britain’s most famous secret agent, went on to gross $594,239,066 worldwide on a budget of ‘just’ $102 million.
Not only that, the film appeared in many critics’ Top Tens for that year and won several industry awards.
This was thanks not only to Craig’s pouting good looks (and a particular pair of swimming trunks) but also GoldenEye director Martin Campbell’s blend of nail biting action sequences and suspenseful moments – such as the main card-playing sequence, and one rather uncomfortable torture scene with a knotted rope.
So confident of the success of this film were the makers that they’d already signed Craig up for its sequel, which – a first in the history of Bond – would be a direct follow-up to its predecessor.
This was announced while Casino Royale was still in its post production stage.
Under the working – and ambiguous – title of Bond 22, preparation continued on this film, which would be based on an original story idea by Michael Wilson OBE.
Wilson is not only the stepson of legendary Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, and half brother to Barbara Broccoli, he also co-produced the Bonds films from A View to a Kill (1985) onwards, scripted four including For Your Eyes Only (1981) and The Living Daylights (1987), and even appeared way back in Goldfinger (1964) as an extra.
It was always intended that Bond 22 should feed off the events at the climax of Casino Royale, specifically the intrigue surrounding the death of Bond’s true love Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green) and the discovery of the shadowy organisation behind it.
Indeed, the closing moments of Casino Royale has Bond shooting the mysterious ‘Mr White’ (Jesper Christensen) in the legs and crippling him, leaving audiences clamouring for more.
In the early stages Notting Hill director Roger Michell was in talks to helm the sequel (it didn’t hurt that he’d also directed Craig in the movies Enduring Love and The Mother).
Sadly, he left the project because of that old chestnut, ‘creative differences’, although he’s since declared that he was nervous about being given a release date of May 2008 with no sign of a finished script. Consequently, Sony pushed back the date of release to late 2008 to give the filmmakers more time.
Paul Haggis (creator of Due South, and director of 2005’s acclaimed Crash) was also approached as director, as he’d co-written the screenplay of Casino Royale with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, but felt that it was too much of a commitment on top of writing.
He settled for re-writing Wade and Purvis’ draft of Bond 22, along with Wilson and new director Marc Forster.
A surprising choice, Forster – director of Monster’s Ball, for which Halle Berry won an Oscar – hadn’t even been a fan of Bond growing up.
Thankfully, he liked the way that Casino Royale humanised the character and was keen to show how revenge could cloud the man’s judgment afterwards.
Meanwhile, a cast was put together which included the returning Craig, obviously, Judi Dench once more capably playing his superior M, and Jeffrey Wright who’d made an impression as the new Felix Leiter, Bond’s US contact.
Other parts would be filled by: Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene, the main villain this time; Ukrainian model and actress Olga Kurylenko (Hitman, 2007) as Camille, the lead Bond girl, a Russian/Bolivian agent who at first opposes 007 then finds herself having to cooperate with him; Gemma Arterton as an MI6 Agent called Fields who is apparently an homage to the 60’s style of Bond girl like Honor Blackman; Anatole Taubman as Elvis, one of Greene’s men; and Joaquin Cosío as General Medrano, who also causes problems for Bond on his travels.
Location, location, location
Which brings us neatly to that other all-important aspect of a Bond film, the exotic global settings.
Although the producers had to reject Forster’s idea of shooting in the Swiss Alps, filming still took place in a number of beautiful locations.
Principal photograph began back in January of this year, and took in such locales as Panama (standing in for Bolivia in the film), Peru, Chile, Lake Garda and Carrara, as well as at 007’s home studio of Pinewood, where he has his own stage named after him (rebuilt after a fire in 2006).
Action sequences to look forward to include an aerial dogfight along the lines of the opening teaser for Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond chasing his enemies during a floating opera performance of Tosca, a car chase around Garda featuring the return of the Aston Martin DBS V12 from Royale, and an art gallery fight scene.
Complementing this is music from veteran Bond composer David Arnold, now able to use the Bond theme which he could only hint at last time (due to it being a loose ‘origins’ story), while the theme song is ‘Another Way to Die’ by Alicia Keys and Jack White from The White Stripes (who stepped in after Amy Winehouse walked away).
The teaser trailer currently doing the rounds at time of writing offers a sneak preview of this exciting film, due to receive its premiere on 29th October in the UK and hit US theatres in November.
It clearly shows a very dangerous Bond at work, apparently not caring who he hurts in his hunt for revenge, not being able to tell his friends from his enemies.
‘Restrict Bond’s movements, put a stop on his passports...Find Bond!’ orders M after he appears to go rogue in scenes reminiscent of 1989’s Licence to Kill.
There’s also the iconic poster image shot of Craig walking over a rocky hillside hefting a rifle.
But, what exactly does that title mean? you ask again. First announced in January and chosen only a few days before initial press conferences, Michael G. Wilson took Quantum of Solace from one of Ian Fleming’s short stories (part of the collection For Your Eyes Only, which also contained the titular short, as well as From a View to Kill).
When asked what he thought it meant by the BBC, Craig’s answer was to quote the famous author and creator of the character he plays. ‘If you don’t have a quantum of solace in your relationship then the relationship is over,’ he told the reporter. ‘It’s that spark of niceness in a relationship that if you don’t have you might as well give up.’