Quantum of SolaceDirected by Marc ForsterStarring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko and Mathieu AmalricRated PG-13O4.5OGoes well with: The Living Daylights, A View to a Kill, Never Say Never Again
Previously on “Bond, James Bond”:MI-6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) has wounded Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), the man responsible for the death of his lover, Vesper.
And now, on to our feature presentation.
When Quantum of Solace kicks in, Bond is zipping across winding Italian roads in a sweet Aston-Martin, pursued by bad guys with big guns. Barely 20 minutes have passed since Casino Royale wrapped, and yet the two movies have very little in common, not least of which is quality and competency. Casino had both. Solace? Not so much.
There's no point in calling Quantum of Solace the worst James Bond film yet. It isn't. I mean, have you ever seen A View to a Kill? The franchise has had some serious flops throughout the years, and Daniel Craig's second outing as 007 is better than those. But it doesn't live up to the promise of its predecessor.
Anyway, it turns out Mr. White works with an evil league of evil, whose cover is an eco-friendly multinational run by the weasely Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and his inept group of political luminaries. Quantum of Solace wants to explore the gray areas of good and evil on a global scale. Do the green Greene's ends (making the world a better place) outweigh his evil means (say, destabilizing Bolivia)? Hey, that's an interesting question, but it's quickly discarded so that the filmmakers can blow some shit up. No, Greene's just trying to get rich via stealing some water or increasing global warming. It's hard to tell, exactly, because Solace is so shoddily plotted, jumping from one expositional idea to the next as quickly as it does points on the globe. Oh, and there are a couple of hot Bond girls, who have never been so superfluous.
Much of the discredit goes to director Marc Forster, who has a habit of turning out self-important Oscar bait like The Kite Runner. The producers must have left that one early, because surely they wouldn't have handed Forster the keys to MI-6 if they'd seen the inept fight scene that ended The Kite Runner. Dude has Bourne envy, but the action sequences, shot with that same handheld camera style, are so frenetic that it's often impossible to tell who's kidney-punching who.
Forster's partners in evil include screenwriter Paul Haggis and a couple of henchmen, who have created a throwback to the days of Bond when things just kinda happen.
How many times have we seen this? James goes somewhere exotic, and someone tries to kill him, but, instead, James kills that guy and is thrust directly into the plot. In Casino Royale, he made the story unfold. In Quantum of Solace, a gorgeous woman drives up and tells him to get into the car because she's mistaken him for someone else, leading him straight to the bad guys, whom James observes and takes pictures of because they're just hanging around the other side of a chain-link fence, being evil. That's just lazy filmmaking, and there are plenty of examples like that throughout. And didn't we leave movies with armed bad guys who can't shoot anything back in the '80s? The hired goons in Quantum of Solace are about as accurate as the dudes who took aim at the Governator in Commando.
Casino Royale worked because the producers took a gamble, changing Bond's psychology, turning him into a nasty manther (man + panther) whose arrogance took a toll on his success and well-being. Quantum of Solace should be about rage turning him into an emotionally crippled, vengeance-seeking human missile of hatred. Instead—even though, ostensibly, the movies are two halves of the same story—James is an unemotional Robocop. When MI-6 and M (Judi Dench) threaten to take away that license to kill because his thirst for vengeance outweighs his sense of duty, it just doesn't make sense. He doesn't really seem to care that much, and neither, therefore, do we.
Quantum of Solace made me like Casino Royale less, and I really liked Casino Royale. But the filmmakers decided to roll the dice on that film's success, and, unfortunately for all of us, it came up crap.