Watching “Quantum of Solace” is like getting punched in the stomach by James Bond himself, and Bond punches hard.
It feels this way because the 22nd entry into the Bond franchise is ultimately a huge disappointment. This is not just another “Bond” movie, but a sequel to the masterpiece “Casino Royale” released two years ago. While “Casino Royale” brilliantly depicted the origins of the character, “Solace” continues the same story, with Bond still attached to other characters and storylines. More importantly, he is only driven by revenge and violence, which is more like Jason Bourne from the Bourne trilogy than it is Bond. The Bourne trilogy is a fantastic addition to the action genre, but Bond has his own style, and a Bond movie, unlike “Quantum of Solace,” should deliver just that.
Picking up from where “Casino Royale” left off, James Bond (Daniel Craig, “The Golden Compass”) is delivering Mr. White to his boss, M (Judy Dench, “Notes on a Scandal”) to be questioned. Bond and M learn of a mysterious organization called QUANTUM, which is trying to control Bolivia’s water supply. This organization has infiltrated MI6 on many levels, along with their shady dealings with the CIA. Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric, “Munich”) runs QUANTUM and also has ties to Bond’s love interest, Camille (Olga Kurylenko, “Max Payne”), whose personal motive is revenge for her dead father. Traveling to Austria, Italy and South America, Bond must bring down Greene and save the world yet again.
Craig is simply fantastic and makes the most of bad material. Even though Bond is not himself, Craig created a character who is still watchable. His grit is more abundant than any previous Bond, and when the script allowed him to show off his charm, he wins everyone over. With two movies under his belt, it is between Sean Connery and Craig as the best 007.
The action is incredible as well. With the first scene, the audience is treated to the Aston Martin car chase missing from “Casino Royale.” And the action never lets up. This movie truly was created in a “Bourne” fashion — there is never a chance to breathe. The car chase, as well as a fistfight scene, are the highlights among the many excellent action moments. Although the violence did not “redefine” the action genre like some may argue Bourne did, it is slick enough to make anyone move to the edge of their seat.
But James Bond has never been an advocate for violence: He only uses it if necessary. In “Quantum of Solace,” however, James’ only goal is revenge, thereby completely compromising Bond’s character. When one thinks of James Bond, it is not action but martinis, sexy women and his cunning use of technology. Bond is suave, and Craig demonstrated that suaveness in “Casino Royale.” In this film, however, there is no time for class.
The difference between “Royale” and “Solace” is the writers’ (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis) faith in time. “Solace” is rushed, and there is not enough time to develop anything but plot points in order to move to the action. The action was there, but more importantly, the character was there. The poker scene in “Casino Royale” is more thrilling and exciting then any action scene in “Quantum of Solace.”
And as a Bond movie, it fell short. Bond had sex once and had a kiss with his love interest. That is it. Pierce Brosnan must be shaking his head in shame. The villain was annoying; he wasn’t evil enough and was a dull part of the movie. And 007 never said his famous line, “The name’s Bond, James Bond.” Director Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland”) was quoted saying, “The line just didn’t seem to fit anywhere.” Make that line fit. A Bond movie without that line is like a Star Wars movie without lightsabers.
In the end, this movie still deserves three stars because Craig is fantastic, the action is awesome and it is an enjoyable 007 movie. This movie did not take a step backward, but a step in the wrong direction. The creators need to let Bond be Bond and not Jason Bourne. But as always, 007 will return, and as always, it will be welcomed.
3 stars out of 5.