While 2006’s “Casino Royale” remains widely considered one of the best Bond films to date, 2008’s follow-up “Quantum of Solace” remains one of its most troubled at best and terrible at worst.
Running half an hour less and costing considerably more, the film made a very robust $586 million worldwide but also has come under fire for its quality – especially in the wake of the far more profitable and acclaimed follow-up “Skyfall”.
A big part of the issue was that the production was an absolute mess. Produced right in the midst of the famed writer’s strike, the film kicked off production without a finished script and no writers, leaving star Daniel Craig and director Marc Forster to do re-writes themselves.
Forster as well employed mostly his own team, and people unfamiliar with the franchise, in key crew roles – an issue Sam Mendes subsequently rectified in “Skyfall” by bringing back many ‘Royale’ personnel and making one or two key changes (like the hiring of cinematographer Roger Deakins).
Collider recently spike with Forster at the Toronto International Film Festival and his experience on “Quantum of Solace” was discussed. With the passage of time, Forster has now been able to speak more candidly about his experience and how he considered dropping out of the project altogether early on:
“It was tricky because we didn’t have a finished script… Ultimately at that time I wanted to pull out. Ron Howard pulled out of Angels & Demons which Sony was about to do and they sort of shut down, and at the time I thought, ‘Okay maybe I should pull out’ because we didn’t have a finished script. But everybody said, ‘No we need to make a movie, the strike will be over shortly so you can start shooting what we have and then we’ll finish everything else.’ I said ‘Yeah but the time crunch’… so ultimately I said ‘Okay’. The idea was to make a follow-up to Casino Royale and ultimately I felt like, ‘Okay worst case scenario the strike goes on, I’ll just make it sort of like a 70s revenge movie; very action driven, lots of cuts to hide that there’s a lot of action and a little less story (laughs). To disguise it.”
Forster says Craig was the one who handled the rest of the writing during filming, with the pressure of following up “Casino Royale” weighing heavily on them both:
“It was pretty crazy because you’re under incredible pressure, especially doing a Bond film, and especially doing the follow-up Bond film to Casino Royale which is the best book Ian Fleming ever wrote, I feel, and was the best Bond movie in a long time. The script was so good, the story was so good, it was a true emotional story especially when Vespa dies, with the sinking house – it was really well done. Then ultimately you have a follow-up with an incomplete script based on no book and you have to deliver. At the same time, we only had five or six weeks to cut the movie once we finished principal photography. You have six weeks to edit before the movie actually then goes into sound and comes out.”
The ridiculously short time for editing was a problem, but Forster had even more problems to deal with at the time:
“While you’re shooting you’re also editing, and you’re trying to figure out if the story works… That was, to be honest, the least of my concerns because we were editing as we were going and the key for me was to make sure the visual effects are looking good, and to make sure the story would work. My nightmare was if the strike keeps going, we don’t have a completed story, plus we have a release date, plus we have five weeks to cut it, plus if all of this doesn’t work the film still comes out and you’re the person responsible for it. So I thought, ‘Okay, am I going to work after this?’ (laughs). But in the end I’m pretty happy with the film, and I must say now eight years after it seems like people have been embracing it more and more. When it came out it was very successful and people seemed to like it, but I think it gained more momentum as time went by.”
Head to Collider to check out the full interview. With the Craig-era rumored to be over, ‘Quantum’ ranks as the worst film of the actor’s four film stint both commercially and critically. Even last year’s “Spectre,” which was lambasted in many review circles, ultimately has the tiniest of edges on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes even if by only 1 or 2 points on each.