007 is back on the job in the 22nd film adventure of British secret agent James Bond. Alan Silverman spoke with star Daniel Craig and director Marc Forster for this look at Quantum of Solace.
For the first time in this long-running series the new film is a direct sequel to the previous one. In the 2006 hit Casino Royale, Bond broke one of his cardinal rules by getting emotionally involved with a woman, Vesper, who was blackmailed by a secret organization into betraying him. Daniel Craig, in his second outing as 007, explains that Quantum of Solace picks right up with the aftermath of that tragic end.
"It always felt like the end of Casino Royale was the beginning of something: with the death of Vesper, this idea of betrayal and also this organization, Quantum, which they are digging into, there seemed to be unfinished business and we needed to tie those loose ends up," Craig explains. "So it was very clear to me that we wanted to solidify all those things. It was very easy for me to get back into that."
In a sweeping plot that spans the globe, Bond goes after the mysterious head of Quantum - Dominic Greene, played by French screen star Mathieu Amalric - and teams up with a beautiful woman - Camille, played by Ukrainian-born Olga Kurylenko.
"Well, you know, I've seen quite a lot of Bond movies so I've seen some 'Bond girls.' They were all very different and I think my character is the only Bond Girl that is so feisty," she says.
And there are the hair-raising chases and daredevil escapes that are trademarks of a Bond adventure. Craig enjoys the physical side of the character and says if it looks like he is jumping from a rooftop or crashing through a stained-glass dome that's because he is actually doing many of those action scenes.
"They are as real as they can be, generally speaking, and it is me most of the time,"notes Craig. "There are certainly moments when someone far better skilled than I am takes over to do the really tricky bits, but the jumps over the roof, the jump from roof to roof, the slide down …that's all me. It was kind of fun."
Director Marc Forster is new to the espionage genre. His previous films include the character-driven drama Monsters Ball and last year's literary adaption The Kite Runner; and the German-born Swiss filmmaker says his take on Bond mixes the action with emotion.
" The [action] sequence should feel like a bullet," Forster explains. "It starts and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last frame; but at the same time it has this emotional layer over Bond's character so you get these glimpses of understanding the emotional pain of what he is living."
"I think he is a violent character," adds the director, "and I think that is where part of his pain comes from and also the way he relates to women is not very healthy. I think there is a bit of overlap with the villain and [Bond]. In the old times during the Cold War it was very clear-cut between the good guys and the bad guys. Now I think it is much more unclear who is good and bad or what these secret agencies really stand for. Are they really there to protect the country or to serve the interests of a few …what is really their purpose and where does Bond fit in there? I think part of that anger or pain or violence comes out of that misplacement as well."
Daniel Craig says there are more Bond stories to tell and he looks forward to playing the secret agent again.
"I feel very confident now," Craig admits. "Whether we get the chance to make another movie is always about the economics of it; but if we do, we can go wherever we want. I think emotionally now we are very secure and there is nothing not possible to do in a sense that we can go more 'Bond-like.' We can have the submarine base. We can have all the things that have been missing from these two movies. I feel very strongly that we are grounded now and I feel more confident about the fact that we won't be harking back; we'll be reinventing, hopefully, not letting anybody forget that it is Bond because, ultimately - as I've said three or four times - it is a Bond movie."
Quantum of Solace features Dame Judi Dench as British intelligence chief "M." Giancarlo Giannini is Bond's ally in the field. Jeffrey Wright plays American agent Felix Leiter; and young newcomer Gemma Arterton makes quite an impression as Strawberry Fields. The globe-trotting action ranges from the streets and rooftops of Tuscany and Madrid to the deserts and mountains of Chile and the waters of Panama.