Now: Quantum of Solace (2008)
Then: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
In Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig’s James Bond teams up with a vengeful spy, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), against a villain intent on controlling Bolivia’s water supply; in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me , Roger Moore’s James Bond teams up with a vengeful spy, Agent XXX (Barbara Bach), against an underwater villain intent on blasting the surface world into oblivion. But which Bond flick bonds better with audiences?
Bond vs. Bond
Quantum of Solace: Daniel Craig is all smoldering, dark intensity (despite the blond hair). He brings a believable action-star quality to 007.
The Spy Who Loved Me: Roger Moore was all tongue-in-cheek lover-not-a-fighter. Moore has even criticized Quantum as overly violent.
Advantage: Quantum of Solace
Bond Girl vs. Bond Girl
Quantum of Solace: Camille is tough as nails and on a mission of her own; she wants to get even with the military man who wiped out her family. She teams up with a reluctant Bond, who’s out to avenge his lost love, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), but – shockingly — the two never end up in bed together. Rolling Stone called Camille “perhaps the dullest Bond girl ever.”
The Spy Who Loved Me: Even though Bond kills her lover in the film’s opening sequence, Russian Agent XXX teams up with him as enemies with a common goal — which adds a crazy snap and crackle that Quantum lacks.
Advantage: The Spy Who Loved Me
Quantum of Solace: Backed by many of the stunt team from the Bourne movies, Quantum is full of juddering, shuddering, bone-breaking moments — and a painfully fierce realism.
The Spy Who Loved Me: It’s just so over-the-top — with Moore “skiing” in green-screen shots and gliding from scene to scene unwounded, unmussed and impeccably styled — that Spy is more spectacular than suspenseful.
Advantage: Quantum of Solace — its finale takes place in what film critic Will Goss nicely points out is ” … the world’s most conveniently flammable hotel”; The Spy Who Loved Me finishes in an underwater base full of jump-suited minions and shark tanks (yep, just like a certain Austin Powers flick).
Quantum of Solace: The premise has a slightly dialed-down feel — no more death satellites or plots to nuke Fort Knox as in Bonds of old; just the evil that men do, like “environmentalist” bad guy Mr. Greene (Mathieu Amalric) moving to seize a hidden supply of water in Bolivia and keep it from the locals.
The Spy Who Loved Me: The plot is pure baroque, loopy excess; Kurt Jurgen’s insane shipping magnate, Karl Stromberg, hijacks nuclear subs in hopes of starting World War III so his undersea utopia can be mankind’s new order.
Advantage: The Spy Who Loved Me — Quantum‘s plot is certainly more believable, but it’s also more of a job for Oxfam or the U.N. than Bond.
Quantum of Solace: It’s a nicely made action film — but you could probably change the name of the lead character from James Bond to anything else and it would feel pretty much the same.
The Spy Who Loved Me: I’m not saying that is a great movie; it’s just that, for better and for worse, Spy is exactly what we think of when we think of a Bond movie.
And the winner is … : The Spy Who Loved Me. The people behind Quantum of Solace might have done better if they’d given Bond — and us — just a smidgen of fun.