There are many facts of life, but one is that Hollywood will be making Bond films until the end of the time. That much I have conceded. That reality was a much darker one after, say, Die Another Day, but after the upstart that was Casino Royale, Bond is now being seen in a whole new light by a new generation. That’s good and bad. Gone is the Bond who only fought, let alone killed, someone when it was a last resort. Bond is now a killing machine, and in Quantum of Solace, he seems to really be enjoying it. While Casino Royale was the perfect mix of the old and new, Quantum of Solace, while oftentimes thrilling, is more of a downtrodden experience that only shows a sporadic sense of humor.
Picking up right where Casino Royale left off, Bond has captured the elusive Mr. White and brings him in for interrogation. It turns out there was a shadow organization who blackmailed the late Vesper to steal Bond’s casino winnings. Intel points to Quantum, a shady organization headed up by Dominic Greene, a businessman whose stakes are largely in “Greene” energy. He has a grand plan to blackmail the Bolivian government for a piece of land in an effort to control all of South America’s water supply. Meanwhile, Bond has teamed up with Camille (Kurylenko), an estranged woman with her own score to settle.
Director Marc Forster’s inexperience with the action genre shows, as most of scenes are hyper-edited and as frenetic as anything you’ve seen in the Bourne movies. Fortunately the sequences are clever by design and brilliantly choreographed, particularly the opening car chase. Like most Bond films, Quantum of Solace is over-scripted and unnecessarily complicated, but the trademark, albeit scarce, dry humor hits the mark more often than not.
Daniel Craig continues to excel in this latest incarnation of the Bond character. He plays troubled and vengeful as well as anyone, and the frank brutality may be off-putting (at one point Bond has a victim pinned and waits, impatiently, for him to bleed to death of a knife wound). It’s a testament to Craig’s embracement of the character that he can elicit such a broad range of emotions from the audience. The supporting cast is adequate, if unmemorable. Olga Kurylenko is not a Bond femme fatale that we’ll be talking about for long. Camille is a cookie-cutter character and Kurylenko’s chemistry with Craig is haphazard at best. Mathieu Amalric does bring an air of menace as Dominic, and Judi Dench delivers, as always, as M.
Quantum of Solace is an above-average action film, but not a whole lot more. Those expecting a duplicate of the greatness that was Casino Royale will likely be disappointed, but Quantum of Solace does deliver what most Bond fans will be looking for. The new, more ominous Bond has undoubtedly injected life into this franchise, but a part of me certainly longs for the days of the more joyful, gleefully ludicrous Bond yarns. If anything, Quantum of Solace just might give us hope that Bond’s Terminator-style killing days may be coming to an end.
Length: 106 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.
Theatrical Release: November 14, 2008
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Paul Haggis & Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton