Quantum of Solace, Rated PG-13, In Theaters November 14, 2008
Synopsis: Seeking revenge for the death of his love, secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) sets out to stop an environmentalist from taking control of a country’s water supply.
Review: As a reviewer of movies, I have always attempted to stay away from broad stroke claims about my own taste. Such as, “I’m a huge James Bond fan.” Why? Because that would be both a lie on my part, as I am by no means a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, and a disservice to people who really do hold a flame for the franchise. What I can say with certainty is that I have enjoyed many a Bond film — more specifically, I enjoyed the Connery era the most, lost interest in the Roger Moore era and thought that every film in the Pierce Brosnan era besides Goldeneye was overblown and ridiculous.
I would also agree with anyone who says that Daniel Craig is one of the better Bonds of all-time despite the fact that we are working from only two performances. And like him or not, Craig has delivered a very different Bond than many of his predecessors — he has given us a more rugged Bond who is more likely to beat your ass than he is to wine and dine you. Many moviegoers have found this more badass Bond to be refreshing, a sign of more action to come. In Quantum of Solace that is exactly what we get — the most in your face, full-force Bond adventure yet. And as an adrenaline junkie, I am can assure you that if it is action you are looking for, then you will not be disappointed.
The only problem with all of the action — including a wicked fast opening scene involving Bond, his sleek Aston Martin and some high speed pursuers — is that it strikes such a major contrast with 2006’s Casino Royale. In the first round of this franchise reboot we were treated to a wonderful level of plot development and a familiar sense of tone. What we are presented with in Quantum of Solace is the digital-age, Attention Deficit Disorder version of a Bond movie — one that throws caution (and plot development) to the wind and plows on from action sequence to action sequence without every feeling the need to explain itself. For those who loved Casino Royale for its dedication to its characters and story, this could be a major turnoff.
As well, there are parts of Quantum that feel incomplete, as if they were left on the cutting room floor. What is most perplexing about the whole deal is that director Marc Forster isn’t the type to let story development suffer for the sake of runtime or pace. Two good examples were The Kite Runner and Monster’s Ball, two films that were both done just right, allowing their stories to come full circle while not feeling drawn out. With Quantum, Forster seems to have made coherence a lesser priority.
He did however, put a major priority on big action and a beautifully retro aesthetic — two things that make Quantum a fun ride regardless of the rest of that stuff. As I mentioned before, the action sequences are many and they are well orchestrated. In these moments we see Bond chasing down and handling bad guys in a very brutal manner. And while some die hard Bond fans may hate this comparison, it does feel quite a bit like a Bourne movie at times — only here we see the Bourne-style action on crack. It is the very in your face style of action that was hinted at in Casino Royale, but has come full circle here in the second film delivering an experience unlike anything we’ve seen from this franchise in a long time, if ever.
The aesthetic of the film is also very well crafted, with a very retro feel to many of the locales and characters. While it is a very different brand of Bond movie, it certainly has many of the franchises traditional elements. One of those elements is a very wicked, yet realistic adversary in Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric. There are also some strong supporting Bond girl performances, most notably from Olga Kurylenko who plays Camille, a woman caught in between Bond and the evil organization that he is trying to bring down in retaliation for the death of Vesper. While she has that distinctive sexiness of a Bond girl she also holds her own quite well, succeeding as a character and not just a piece of eye candy.
In the end the real question is whether or not Quantum of Solace is good enough to earn your $10, is it not? The answer is that is most certainly is, whether you are a die hard fan of Bond or not. Fans will find enough familiarity in Bond’s universe to enjoy the film, but should go in knowing that like any great reboot there are going to be some differences. And in some cases, these differences might go over very well. For everyone else, the simple answer is that Quantum is a kick-ass ride, and one of the best action movies of the year thus far. On a personal level I found it to be one of my favorite Bond movies — but again, I don’t count myself among the most die hard of Bond’s fans.