2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...
MISSION 22: QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)
THE BOURNE LEGACY An ominous rumble and roar of cars as the camera races over water. A blink of silver bodywork. Tight flash of cold, cobalt eyes. And then a slam of accelerator. Gunfire, speed, peril. Welcome to the opening moments of Quantum Of Solace , a car chase cut so brutally that you almost expect the celluloid to bleed. It’s an audacious statement of intent by director Marc Forster, sacrificing any sense of the spatial for a breathless, screen-punching sensory assault. For Forster it was all about the instant: the tyranny of the moment rather than the broader spectacle. He wanted Quantum to be “tight and fast… like a bullet”, and his use of frantic flash-cuts and fast-blurring, hand-held camerawork finds 007 shamelessly in thrall to the Jason Bourne movies (they even poached second unit director Dan Bradley, who worked on 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy and 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum ). It proved a strikingly divisive artistic choice. Even former members of Her Majesty’s Secret Service weighed in. “It was just like a commercial of the action,” judged ex-Bond Roger Moore. “There didn’t seem to be any geography and you were wondering what the hell was going on.”
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA Bond confronts the murmuring might of Quantum at the lakeside opera house in Bregenz, Austria. This floating stage, dominated by a vast, Daliesque eyeball, makes for a stunning backdrop to what’s the most unequivocally arty moment in Bond history. As Tosca begins to soar, 007’s gaze locks with the psychotic, ink-orb glare of Dominic Greene. The moment holds, finally broken by silent flashes of gunfire. The opera surges. Bond races through a burning kitchen, the flames and bullet-play intercut with the make-believe bloodshed onstage. All the while that giant eye watches, its iris contracting like the gaze of some disdainful god. It’s a unique, bravura sequence, arthouse cinema briefly seducing the muscular mainstream thrills of the Bond franchise.
LOCATION LOCATION For all that its rep is coloured by the whip-smash chaos of its action sequences, Quantum Of Solace also remembers to breathe. And, when it does, Marc Forster delivers a film that’s surprisingly elegant - and impeccably well travelled. Shot in no less than six countries, it enjoyed more time on location than any other Bond adventure. A cosmopolitan-minded Swiss/German, Forster ached to flee the studio-bound kingdoms of Pinewood, keen for his film to absorb the atmospheres of real places. He proves to have a fine eye for local colour, and there’s something of the anthropologist about him, too. For once Bond locations aren’t the usual Cinzano billboard fantasies. These environments feel real, lived in, alive with the texture of native culture. The shanty towns of Haiti are brought to the screen with a vibrant sense of decay while Forster takes pains to show us the people of Bolivia, the very peasants threatened by the amoral machinations of Quantum. From Talamare to the Atacama Desert, Port Au Prince to La Paz, Lake Garda to Lake Constance, the 22 nd Bond film is the gentleman traveller of the Bond franchise. You imagine even Ian Fleming might approve – when not tutting down his cigarette holder at the confounded racket of the title song.
TRIV AND LET DIE
Originally there were three Alfa Romeos chasing Bond in the pre-titles. Forster felt the sequence was overlong so brutally recut it to show only two.
The car chase was filmed with the Ultimate Arm, a five-axis, gyro-stabilised crane camera mounted on top of a high-speed vehicle.
Daniel Craig sliced off the tip of his fingertip during a fight sequence.
The climax was originally set in the Swiss Alps but Forster switched it to the desert, wanting the major action sequences to echo the four elements of earth, water, air and fire.
JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN SKYFALL