Quantum of Solace, Marc Forster, 106 mins, 12A

The new Bond film is not a turkey, but it's too violent and charmless to go down well after the mince pies

The office where M does her spymastering has a lot to say about the new James Bond film. The boss of MI6 (Judi Dench) used to occupy an oak-panelled, leather-and-brass drawing room on Whitehall, a place where you might lounge by the open fire and listen to the soft bongs of Big Ben as you pondered Blofeld's next move. Not in Quantum of Solace.

For the series' 22nd instalment, M has relocated to a clinical executive suite, all brushed steel and glass walls and severe grey furniture. Miss Moneypenny and Q have been left behind at her old premises, to be replaced by a gaggle of middle managers who buzz around as if they're on the floor of the stock market. I'd hesitate to ascribe this brisk atmosphere to the film's Swiss director, Marc Forster, but the watchwords in Quantum of Solace are ruthless, spartan efficiency.

It opens by literally cutting to the chase – a car chase that's set an hour after the close of Casino Royale. Bond's one true love, Vesper Lynd, has committed suicide because she was being blackmailed by some mysterious baddies, so 007 (Daniel Craig) pursues those baddies from Italy to Haiti to Austria to Bolivia at breakneck speed, pausing only to break a few necks before dashing to the next continent on his itinerary. There's no doubt that the influence of the Bourne franchise is behind this frantic pacing, particularly in the way that the action has been edited into quantum-sized, blink-and-you'll-miss-it snippets. What seems to happen during every car, boat and plane chase is that Bond gets cornered, and then there's a close-up of Craig scowling, and then the villain's vehicle explodes. Either 007 has acquired psychic powers, or I missed something each time. Cinemas may have to give out amphetamines at the door so the audience can keep up.

Still, it wouldn't be fair to say that Quantum of Solace is simply Bourne again. It has all the traditional Bond movie ingredients; the difference is that every one of these ingredients has had the fun pared away. The exotic locations are dusty backwaters; the Bond girl (Olga Kurylenko) keeps her clothes on, and the gadgets are just souped-up mobile phones. Even the Spectre-like league of evil-doers has had a 21st-century makeover. Rebranded as Quantum, it's a global cartel of corporate fat cats who go around toppling South American governments. (We're never told whether their name is an acronym for Quasi-Autonomous Network for Terror, Unpleasantness and Murder, but I hope it is.) Their head honcho isn't called Scaramanga or Goldfinger, either; he's called Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), which gives you some idea of the film's no-nonsense tone.

The main ingredient of Quantum of Solace which is less fun than you'd want from a James Bond movie is James Bond himself. Craig has Sean Connery's feline elegance, and he looks as if he could beat up all the other Bonds simultaneously, Connery included. But the character has always been about being smooth as well as getting rough, and Craig has to be the most charmless incarnation ever, a bullying lunk who views women and martinis as distractions from the business of seriously vicious violence. The film was lucky to get a 12A certificate.

You could argue that this cold, brutal Bond is true to Ian Fleming's books – the title comes from a Fleming short story – and there's certainly something admirable about Quantum of Solace's shark-like sense of purpose. Casino Royale might have been knocked off course by its cringe-worthy banter about watches, and by its equally cringe-worthy dashboard defibrillator, but the new film, like its hero, is tough and taut, and it gets on with the job. In the end, though, all work and no play make James a dull boy. I was impressed by Quantum's propulsive energy while it was zipping before my eyes, but afterwards I couldn't recall a single classic sequence. It's hard to be fond of a Bond film that doesn't pass the ultimate 007 test: I'm not sure I'd want to watch it on TV after my Christmas dinner.

Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game