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Quantum Of Solace: Thoughts on the Trailer


By Ian Dunross
September 25, 2008

The teaser for Quantum Of Solace came and went, leaving us all without any insight into how solace could actually be quantized. Now, with about two months until the release of the new Bond movie in the US, I recently sat down and watched the full trailer on my computer (“That’s your own stupid fault,” I hear you saying and you’re absolutely correct). My goal was to deconstruct the barrage of images in the trailer to grasp the subtext and reach a determinate meaning of the title in context to the film. To be noted well: the title derives from a Fleming short story; but it is a tale without explosions, gunfire, and car chases. Sad to say, Fleming never envisioned mayhem but offered a quiet drama about marital discord, pointing to the haunting notion that social relations are volatile and require, at the very least, a degree of solace—compassion—to avoid conflict.1 In a bold move, however, the Bond makers discarded any elements of the short story to deliver a work of pure high art that centers on explosions, gunfire, and car chases. Their goal, as suggested by the trailer, is to make audiences say,  “This film is full of explosions, gunfire, and car chases.”

In what follows, I offer a time-based analysis of the trailer. Whether I was faithful to Derridian Deconstructionist theory is another matter.

Time Scene(s)
00.08. Desert landscape. An arial shot of a van plowing through sand dunes.
00.10. In voice-over narration, Judi Dench-MI6 Leader mumbles like a bored waitress, saying something about "revenge for someone he loved."
00.14. Inexplicably, there's a flash of an image of the Craig-Bond with a bowl haircut, firing a gun.
00.15. He mutters, in voice-over narration, "I don't think the dead care about vengeance."
  I would add that dead people wouldn’t care about Wal-Mart mail-in rebate offers and coupons for Round Table Pizza. Put another away, I’d say with certainty that it is difficult to care about anything when one is pushing petunias from six feet under. But then that’s why I’m not a Double-O agent with a bowl haircut.
00.19. The MGM logo appears.
00.21. Not to be outdone, Columbia Studios flashes their logo on the screen.
00.26. Closeup of a pale old man with a scratch on his nose. (He is Mr. White, whether you care or not, the treacherous guy who the Craig-Bond shot in the leg near the end of Casino Royale.)
00.27. Closeup of another pale old man, but he proudly sports a bowl haircut. In a dramatic twist, it turns out to be the Craig-Bond, who continues to devolve into a bizarre craggy worn state. He is at least 10 years older than he looked in Casino Royale, although the narrative time of the new film continues just minutes after the previous film. But now he is attempting to look mean, holding a gun and babbling about "unfinished business."
00.30. Voice-over narration from the old man with a scratch on his nose: "The first thing you should know about us is that we have people everywhere." His accent is reminiscent of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
00.35. Effeminate Eurotrash guys in tuxedos appear. The reptilian Daniel Craig, pale-faced as ever, watches from a balcony. Voice-over narration from Judi Dench-MI6 Leader: "What the hell is this organization, Bond? How can they be everywhere and we know nothing about them?" Um, I can answer that: Madam, you hired a moronic 007. Have you considered screening better candidates for Double-O agents? Agents who can actually track down enemies and write easy-to-read intelligence reports?
00.40. Another desert scene: a convoy of vans makes its way through the arid landscape.
00.41. Segue into voice-over narration: it is someone with a prissy accent, uttering, "This is the world's most precious resource. We need to control much of it as we can.” We are left to assume he is referring to all that sand in the desert. Cut to a closeup of French actor Mathieu Amalric, who resembles a lemur. Aha, so the filmmakers are setting him up as the idiot who believes desert sand is the most precious resource.
00.46. More effeminate Eurotrash guys in tuxedos walking down a staircase. The message, the filmmakers seem to say, is that effeminate guys in tuxedos look mysterious. Of course, we are not expected to believe them.
00.47. Vladimir Putin, with a thinning bowl haircut, appears in a tuxedo, standing with a body-builder's hunch. But wait, it’s a mere illusion, a trick of the camera; for it is the Craig-Bond, lifeless like a waxwork figure. Behold, the filmmakers seem to say. Here is the cool new look of 007. But, in reality, this is looking to be a stupid movie.
00.50. The Craig-Bond is seated in a car, babbling the name "Dominic Greene" into his mobile device. Finally, the film has gained clarity—we realize the Craig-Bond is attempting to call a customer support rep at Vodafone. But wait! There’s a rapid cut to the lemur and, in an unsurprising twist, we realize that he—Dominic Greene—is the Bondian villain.
00.52. A flash of Judi Dench-MI6 Leader in a room, saying, "He's a person of extreme interest." It must be her weekly session with her therapist, and we gather she is talking about the guy she met online. We suggest, however, that she mustn’t be taken so easily by the fantasy of this mysterious person. Unbeknownst to her, the only mysterious romantic figure who chats with anyone out there on the Infobahn is a guy with a beer belly and excruciating body odor.
00.54. A flash of the lemur Greene in his natural habitat—a tropical island, though it’s unclear if he is in Madagascar. Just when we expect him to climb up a tree, he tells one of his cronies, “We've already begun destabilizing the government.” Oh, what suspense! This lemur is quite theatrical, muttering vague status reports to keep his cronies guessing. For his next meeting, however, with the Society of Stupid Hollywood Villains, he would be effective if he gets down to specifics—for example, is he destabilizing the local government of Scranton, Pennsylvania? More importantly, what’s his stance on female dominance in the social structure of lemurs?2
00.56. For some reason, a truck explodes in an alley. This was inserted in the trailer to show that the Bond makers can blow up a measly truck without hesitation.
01.02. A car pulls up in front of the Craig-Bond. A young woman, Ukrainian actress Olga Somebody,3 is behind the steering wheel. Presumably, she’s a cab driver, telling the Craig-Bond to "Get in." The complex exchange of dialogue continues: the Craig-Bond responds, "All right."
01.08. The cab driver, Olga Somebody, is seen standing next to the lemur Greene. Aha, so she's in cahoots with the villain!
01.11. Back to the car. The Craig-Bond is seated next to Olga Somebody and says, "I think someone wants to kill you." They must be in New York, where cab drivers are prone to pick up dangerous passengers.
01.12 to 01.13. A rapid series of images of the Craig-Bond and Olga Somebody pointing guns.
01.14. The Craig-Bond and Olga Somebody, both disheveled, arrive at an elegant hotel. Presumably, they are making a political statement about class conflict. I tried this once at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas—looking dirty and disheveled, that is, without the political polemic. My intention was to look cool in an edgy manner; but the concierge pointed me to the hotel’s splendid spa, laundry, and dry cleaning facilities.
01.17 to 01.18. Another desert scene. Oh, let’s just set the entire movie in the desert, why don’t we? Here the Craig-Bond and Olga Somebody, both looking haggard and dirty, are having a leisurely stroll along the arid landscape. Is it possible that the filmmakers are hinting at the amount of solace that could be found in the desert?
01.19 to 01.25. More fight scenes. The series of rapid images ends with two Eurotrash thugs falling onto a glass rooftop. An added bonus: one of the thugs is actually the Craig-Bond!
01.28. Closeup of Craig's beady lifeless eyes. It is chillingly repulsive, as if we are staring into the eyes of a reptile. The closeup is accompanied by Craig’s voice-over narration: "It seems we're both using Greene to get to somewhere." So the plot thickens: we gather that the lemur Greene is actually a travel agent! But he is a travel agent who loses customers by way of unidentified travel destinations.
01.31. Olga Somebody is sitting in a cave, asking the Craig-Bond, "You lost somebody?"
01.34. To which the Craig-Bond, leaning against the cave wall, replies, "I did." Well, this confirms that Greene does indeed provide a questionable travel agency: they actually lose customers with their lousy travel itineraries.
01.35 to 01.36. Another complex exchange of dialogue. In the cave, Olga Somebody asks, "Did you catch whoever did it?" To which the Craig-Bond replies, "No, not yet." Not to be meticulous, but it’s hard to accomplish anything when you spend too much time chatting in a desert cave.
01.43 to 02.17. A montage of car chases, explosions, the Craig-Bond attempting to look cool with sunglasses, and clips of motorboat chases and guys running and firing guns, and airplanes and helicopters swirling in the air—all cobbled into a rapid pace and interjected with close-ups of the Craig-Bond looking disheveled and close-ups of the Craig-Bond looking like he just had a lobotomy and close-ups of Olga Somebody attempting to recite dialogue, and then it all segues into another montage of soldiers firing machine guns, brutal fight scenes, another flash of the Craig-Bond aiming a gun, another series of explosions, rapid clips of car and motorboat chases, another flash of the Craig-Bond running as fast as his short legs could carry him, and a flash of the Craig-Bond riding a motorcycle, all the while the Bond theme blaring loud and angry, and it all leads to a scene with two guys dangling on ropes, swinging and fighting, with the voice-over narration of the Craig-Bond saying, "You don't have to worry about me," followed by an abrupt cut to the Craig-Bond dangling from the rope and firing his gun at someone above.
02.18 to 02.22. A burst of white light follows the gunshot. The title Quantum Of Solace appears, and the 007 logo fades into the arrangement of the letters of the title, followed by the release date, "November 14." It's all slick enough for a film logo. The filmmakers just forgot to include Craig's name! They have, quite ridiculously, advertised a film—a high profile film, to be sure—wihout a star.


It is, we must admit, a whirlwind of frantic action, showing that every penny of the 200 bajillion dollar budget was spent on explosions and fight scenes. Every detail, every nuance, of an explosion was painstakingly filmed—we simply cannot dispute the attention to detail offered by the filmmakers. The only thing lacking is the solid connection between the action scenes and the title Quantum Of Solace. It seems the filmmakers forgot to deal with the significance of the title when they filmed all those explosions. It was also the impression of several friends I interviewed during a game of bocce at Campo di Bocce Italian Restaurant in Livermore, California. Perhaps this points to one major mistake on the part of the filmmakers—making a 007 film that would confuse bocce players.

As our discussion of the trailer unfolded, we delved into what we can expect from Quantum Of Solace and what it might be like as a cinematic experience. From the outset, the bocce players foresee the following:

  • The actual film can be expected to include at least 457% more explosions and fight scenes, and potentially five additional characters that can scream “Aggghhh!” when shot.
  • Much of the film was shot in a desert, or in a landfill in New Mexico, and the dialogue is only marginally better than what you'd get in a kung fu film; yet as entertainment, Quantum Of Solace will be as action-packed as your average Van Damme direct-to-video effort.
  • As the trailer suggests, the film will not include a scene of Daniel Craig breaking into a song and dance number of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Knock Three Times.” There will, however, be explosions.

I then conducted a short question-and-answer session with the bocce players. As the seasoned Bond fan drowning in self-importance, I assured them I had all the credible answers.

Q. I’ve been to the Bayreuth Festival and adore Wagner’s operas, my favorite being Tannhäuser. Based on this trailer, do you think I’d enjoy Quantum Of Solace?
A. Hell no. But if you must insist on seeing this film, I recommend that you delve into hip-hop music to acclimatize yourself to the title song “Another Way To Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys. By then your Wagnerian days will be over, so you might as well wear the bill of your baseball cap backward and applaud this new direction in the Bond series.
Q. I was thinking of taking my 3-year old nephew to a film as a birthday treat. Would Quantum Of Solace be suitable for him?
A. Only if you intend to hamper the development of the toddler’s cognitive skills.
Q. You raise an interesting point. Are there any known physical side effects to this film?
A. Yes. Your eyesight is at risk. It is therefore pragmatic to wear eye protection: I recommend safety glasses with a tint dark enough so you don’t see the screen. Then there is the bizarre side effect of primate devolution. The film contains excessive animalistic aggression that audiences in a test screening in London actually transformed into gorillas. An international team of anthropologists were brought to the test screening and concluded that, in the space of 106 minutes, audience members gained tremendous body weight, grew abundant back hair, and developed the habit of beating their chests. No longer bipedal, they escaped, knuckle-walking to the park, where they formed tribes and waged war against one another before settling down and scooping termites out of hollow logs using pieces of straw.
Q. You’ve got to be joking, no?
A. Would I lie to you? Well, all right, the stuff about gorillas may not have an ounce of reality. Enjoy the film in good health!




1 For an analysis of the Fleming short story, refer to the essay Narrative Rapidity in “Quantum of Solace.”
2 Experts initially noted female social dominance in the Ring-tailed Lemur. For more information about this phenomenon in the exciting world of lemurs, refer to the site Female Dominance in Primates (access date: 9/5/08).
3 To be precise, she is Olga Kurylenko.

List of Illustrations

"Film Reel." Online Image. David Makepeace. 17 Aug. 2007
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