After the excellent reaction to Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007 in Casino Royale, much was expected of the follow-up, Quantum of Solace. An original story following on directly from the end of the previous instalment, the 22nd James Bond movie once again turned to an old hand to provide the soundtrack.
Unlike the accelerated schedule he was tied to on Casino Royale, David Arnold’s early involvement meant that he was able to work alongside director Marc Forster to, in his words, ‘really work it out’. Arnold based his soundtrack on impressions from reading Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade’s script and these were edited into the final film by the director.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
1. Time To Get Out
2. The Palio
3. Inside Man
4. Bond In Haiti
5. Somebody Wants To Kill You
6. Greene & Camille
7. Pursuit At Port Au Prince
8. No Interest In Dominic Greene
9. Night At The Opera
10. Restrict Bond’s Movements
12. What’s Keeping You Awake
13. Bolivian Taxi Ride
14. Field Trip
15. Forgive Yourself
17. Target Terminated
18. Camille’s Story
19. Oil Fields
20. Have You Ever Killed Someone?
Sadly, as with many of the Bond films since A View To A Kill, the theme song for Quantum of Solace was once again written in isolation with no input from Arnold. Unlike Casino Royale where the composer had worked alongside Chris Cornell to thread the motif from the theme song throughout the score, the title track for Quantum of Solace was written and produced by the performing artists.
Originally, rumours abounded that Amy Winehouse was set to record the theme for Bond 22 alongside her trusted producer Mark Ronson. However, Ronson told Sky News in May 2008 that Winehouse was ‘not ready to record any music’ following well-publicised problems with drugs, alcohol and because of the rocky relationship with her husband. Ronson confirmed that the pair had begun work on a track but that it would take ‘some miracle of science’ to finish it.
Sadly, we will never get to hear what the pair would have brought to the 007 series. Considering the sound Winehouse created on her Black to Black album, we can only speculate how brilliant her Bond theme might have sounded.
Instead, the American pair of Jack White and Alicia Keys was signed up to record the theme to Quantum of Solace. White admitted that he had wanted to work with Keys for some time and the pair recorded the track Another Way To Die in Nashville, Tennessee with input from many local musicians.
White said: “The Memphis Horns were there to help us out, along with some of Nashville’s finest. Might be the first analogue Bond theme in twenty years, I don’t know. We wanted to push soul into those tapes, and join the family of Barry, Bassey, Connery and Craig.”
Another Way To Die bursts into life with a terrific Bond-esque opening featuring fuzz guitar, piano and horns but then fails to capitalise on its dramatic start. It meanders without any identifiable melody or chorus and, in my opinion, is the weakest Bond theme in the 46 year history of the franchise.
And, as with many recent Bond soundtracks, because the song was recorded separately it doesn’t feature at all on Arnold’s soundtrack. This means that there is no recurring theme or motif to the score – not Arnold’s fault of course – apart from the composer’s clever use of his theme for Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale which can be heard at key moments in the film. This gentle piano led theme features on What’s Keeping You Awake, Forgive Yourself and Camille’s Story.
As for Arnold’s soundtrack, it is once again a superb orchestral work which moves from dramatic action pieces – opening track Time To Get Out, Perla De Las Dunas and Target Terminated are excellent – to gentle, reflective themes.
As with Casino Royale, Arnold keeps his use of the James Bond Theme to a minimum to reflect the relative inexperience of the agent. It can be heard briefly in pieces such as Pursuit At Port Au Prince and Field Trip and the clever occasional usage reminds you that you’re watching a Bond film without simply rehashing John Barry’s old works.
Quantum of Solace is one of the most comprehensive Bound soundtracks available. With 24 tracks including Jack White and Alicia Keys’ theme it provides well over an hour’s worth of great film music. However, a notable omission on the album is the fully orchestrated James Bond Theme which, as in Casino Royale, appears only at the film’s conclusion.
As for the film, hiring a director who admits to not being a Bond fan was only the start of the problems. Forster’s opinion that Casino Royale was too long – nonsense, of course – meant he wanted to produce a faster paced Bond film. Despite one or two nice sequences – the first ten minutes or so is excellent – Quantum of Solace remains one of the weakest films in the 007 series.
This soundtrack once again sees David Arnold on top form but the composer is once again let down by the producer’s decision to have the theme written in isolation. Arnold manages to respect the Bond values while stamping his own identity all over the music and his fifth Bond score is wasted on such a poor quality film.