Quantum of Solace | 2008
Given an inexplicably cool reception by the critics, the sequel to Casino Royale belts along at a cracking pace, clocking in as the shortest of the Bonds, and continues the unfinished business of Casino Royale.
The frantic road chase, as Bond (Daniel Craig) delivers the hapless Mr White to the secret MI6 lair, is alongside Lake Garda in northern Italy. It begins toward the north of the lake, on its eastern shore at the village of Malcesine, heading north on the lakeside road SS249, Via Gardesana Centro, through and Navene and Tempesta, before heading west around the north of the lake at Riva del Garda.
The chase roars south along the western shore toward Salò (yes, that’s the same town which Pier Paolo Pasolini chose as the setting for Salò, his transposition of the Marquis de Sade’s notorious 120 Days of Sodom).
Bond mysteriously arrives about 100 miles to the south, at the quarries of Carrara, southeast of La Spezia in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany. Since Roman times, they have supplied the best quality marble to Italy’s most famous sculptors – including Michelangelo. Hardly surprising, then, that they feature again in historical biopic The Agony and the Ecstasy, with Charlton Heston as the tortured artist. You can take a trip up to see the quarries – the ones seen in the film are Canalgrande and Fantiscritti.
Having seen off his pursuers, Bond drives into Siena, a further 80 miles or so to the southeast, where there’s a sudden – and unexpected – attempt on the life of M (Judi Dench) at the MI6 field HQ. The entrance is Piazzetta della Paglietta, on the Via di Salicotto, just southeast from the Piazza del Campo.
The centre of this beautiful Medieval hilltown town is a World Heritage Site, where the 13th century Piazza del Campo – the main square – hosts the traditional Palio di Siena twice a year. This raucous bareback horsrerace, featured in the film as a colourful background, is held on July 2 and August 16. Entrance is free but, as you can see, the crowds mean you'll be lucky to get a good view of the race. Your best bet is to plan ahead and book a room overlooking the Piazza.
Although the race footage seen in the film is the real thing, it was shot some months before principal photography began, and craftily edited into the action.
Amazingly, the ensuing chase across the tiles above the city was not faked in the studio, but filmed on the actual rooftops of Siena (don’t worry – despite appearances, precautions were taken to avoid any damage to the historic buildings).
The London highrise flat of deceased double agent Mitchell, where Bond and M realise the extent of the mysterious organisation, is the the most northern of the Water Gardens, three Sixties tower blocks overlooking the junction of Edgware Road and Sussex Gardens. The entrance into which Bond is driven is on Burwood Place, but please be aware that this is a private and gated estate.
‘Mr Slate’ is traced to ‘Port au Prince, Haiti’, not really a place you would want to take a film crew. The ‘Haitian’ scenes were filmed in Colon, on the coast of Panama at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal. If you want to visit the waterfront docks at which Bond first encounters Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), you should be aware that Colon is a deprived area, with the resultant social problems, including crime.
MI6 seems to have an ongoing problem finding a suitable place to settle in London and, once again its HQ is in a different location. The organisation now operates out of the Barbican Centre, EC2 – the largest arts and conference venue in Europe. The complex, which houses theatres, symphony hall and cinemas was previously on-screen home to top dog Freddie Mays (David Thewlis) in Gangster No1.
Also in London is the government office to which the Minister (Tim Pigott-Smith) summons M for a brisk talking-to. We’ve been here before. It’s the Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, which you might recognise as ‘Blades’, scene of the fencing duel in Die Another Day. Its other screen credits include Shekhar Kapur’s remake of The Four Feathers with Heath Ledger, Lindsay Andersons anarchic O Lucky Man! and Roger Donaldson’s The Bounty.
Meanwhile, Bond is tailing the shifty Mr Greene to Bregenz, at the eastern tip of Lake Constance in Austria. The strikingly modern opera house, where members of the nefarious organisation meet up during a performance of Puccini’s Tosca, is the Festspielhaus Bregenz.
On the shore of Lake Constance, the largest floating stage in the world hosts the Bregenz Festival from mid-July to mid-August, with a new opera production every two years. The astonishing ‘eye’ design was the actual set for Philipp Himmelmann’s spectacular 2007 production of Tosca.
After – oops! – offing a Special Branch agent, Bond finds his documents have been cancelled and his movements seriously restricted. For a new passport and plastic, he takes a boat trip back to Italy to visit his friend Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) at Talamone in southern Tuscany. Mathis’ home is Torre di Talamonaccio, a restored Medieval tower on the coast, a couple of miles east of Talamone itself. And the good news is – you can now rent the tower as luxury holiday accommodation.
With a new passport , Bond hares off to ‘La Paz, Bolivia’ – well, no – it’s back to Panama, this time Panama City, at the other end of the canal. Unimpressed by the modest digs offered by agent Fields (Gemma Arterton), he heads for the ‘Andean Grand Hotel’. You won’t be able to, though, not even posing as a lottery winner. It’s not a hotel at all, but the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (the National Institute of Culture) on Plaza de Francia, built in 1931, originally to house the Supreme Court of Justice.
The shell of the old Club de Clases y Tropas, in the Casca Viejo – the old quarter of the town – pretty much destroyed in the US invasion of 1989, and a fave hangout of General Noriega – is the venue for Greene’s ‘Eco Park’ fundraiser. You might have noticed the same building in John Boorman’s 2001 film of John Le Carre’s The Tailor of Panama, with former Bond Pierce Brosnan.
As Bond rents the vintage DC3 (the use of an old propeller plane is one of several homages to Alfred Hitchcock thrillers scattered throughout the movie), the aerial dogfight scenes were filmed in Mexico, based at the airstrip of San Felipe in Baja California.
The ‘Bolivian’ village is Baquedano, in the Atacama Desert, about 50 miles northeast of the coastal city of Antofagasta in northern Chile. Choosing Chile to represent ‘Bolivia’ turned out to be a controversial decision – there’s no love lost between the two countries. In the 19th century, a war left Chile with valuable mineral reserves and landlocked Bolivia without access to the sea. The resulting wealth of Chile, compared to the poverty of Bolivia is still a cause of deep resentment.
The driest place on earth (parts of it have received no rainfall in hundreds of years), the Atacama is, of course, where you’ll find the mysterious Nazca lines, and is seen again in Walter Salles’ The Motorcycle Diaries.
Dominic Greene’s striking ‘Bolivian’ desert hideout is the Residencia, the accommodation for the Paranal Observatory of the ESO (European Southern Observatory), in the desert about 75 miles south of Antofagasta in northern Chile.