BY ELIOT HAGEN
There’s never really been an unwatchable Bond movie. They all follow the same formula, incorporating guns, gadgets, girls and cars into a skeletal plotline.
Each Bond movie is its own, so that each time we can see him with a new beauty—or two or three in some cases. The newest film, on the other hand, is tied, however loosely, to 2006’s “Casino Royale.”
Daniel Craig returns as the famous Double-O, and this time he’s on the trail of a corrupt CEO, a deposed dictator and the man who murdered Vesper Lynd, the Bond girl from the previous movie.
Serving to replace Vesper, we have the gorgeous Olga Kurylenko as Camille, a Bolivian woman out for revenge. Jeffrey Wright returns as Felix Leiter, Bond’s longstanding friend in the CIA, and, of course, Judi Dench reprises her role as the overbearing yet slightly maternal M.
Sean Connery was, clearly, the best Bond. Behind him is Pierce Brosnan who, save for the lack of realism in his last two outings in 007’s shoes, was excellent in the role. Craig makes a fighting effort this time around to put himself third in line, in close contention with Timothy Dalton (“The Living Daylights,” “License to Kill”).
Craig’s Bond is closest to Dalton’s Bond—aggressive, troubled and hard to control. Unlike the older films, Bond forces his way to the end of the film rather than coasting, never attaining happiness or closure.
“Quantum of Solace” is significantly darker than “Casino Royale” and any of the previous 21 Bond movies. Negative reviewers forget that this is appropriate seeing as both “Solace” and “Casino” follow an earlier Bond who, for all intents and purposes, is still learning the ropes.
“Quantum of Solace” is good in many aspects. The script is comparatively well written with no cheesy one-liners, the action sequences are quite excellent though sometimes disorienting due to an abundance of handheld shots and split second cutting, and everyone’s performance is what you’d expect. It also includes a blatant theft from “Goldfinger” that any Bond fan will immediately recognize.
One thing missing, as in “Casino Royale,” is Q-Branch. While you don’t notice the absence in the movie theater, in retrospect one feels cheated out of the gadgetry that Bond fans have come to love and expect from every installment. There’s also far less espionage than in other films, with Bond being more “hands-on” and reckless than usual.
Another thing missing is Bond’s womanizing. Though he does seduce the woman sent to keep him on a leash, he never gets anywhere with Camille, the Bond girl on the posters and the one who’s with him throughout the film.
Their relationship begins, as per the formula, in hostility, then it forms into affection, but there’s no payoff. Fans of the movies used to seeing Bond with his girl at the end of each film will be sorely disappointed.
All of these factors point towards a much more linear line of Bond films. There have been hints at a trilogy, and it would make sense. The first two have put Bond through some pretty hefty trials, and he’s come to peace with his issues, firmly establishing his character.
“Quantum of Solace” isn’t spectacular, but it isn’t horrible. No one goes to a Bond film expecting excellence or true cinematic merit. It’s purely entertainment, and in that, the movie succeeds. There’s the requisite number of chase sequences in a variety of vehicles and locations, a good number of fights, and, most importantly, the man himself.