Two years after Daniel Craig assumed the role of James Bond in Casino Royale, we were given Quantum of Solace. Other than the death of Tracy Bond back in Our Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we’ve never had two Bond films that essentially tell one story. It was a bold move that worked in some aspects, yet failed in others. As a standalone movie, Quantum of Solace suffers from a plot that picks up the threads left at the end of Casino Royale, which ultimately make it hard to enjoy on its own merits.
It opens with a typical Bond car chase…well, not typical as the action is very frenetic. From those opening minutes, you know this isn’t the Bond we’ve grown up with. At least he was driving an Aston Martin. And right out of the gate, one of the film’s inherit problems becomes evident. It looks and feels like too much of Jason Bourne film. The crazy action works in that franchise but has no place in the world of 007. Bond has captured Mr. White, picking right up from the final frame of Casino Royale. Upon being interrogated, he reveals a hidden organization called Quantum, the rebooted version of the old SPECTRE. Unfortunately, Quantum seems less deadly and more convoluted. Our main villain is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), who is one of the tamer adversaries Bond has faced over the years. The plot is somewhat confusing but centers around Greene’s plan to steal the water in Bolivia and then to charge a high price to sell it back to the very country he stole it from. Along the way, Bond is killing everyone left and right. A bit offsetting but somewhat acceptable considering he has been betrayed and surely is in mourning over the death of Vesper. M, one again played by Judi Dench, trusts Bond despite his penchant for killing everyone. The chemistry between Dench and Craig is solidified here and shows a partnership between the two characters that we’ve never seen before. It would continue to grow in the next adventure, Skyfall. In the end, Greene is defeated and his plot thwarted. Bond also gets the answers he needs regarding Vesper and whether or not she really loved him. As M tells Bond she needs him, he responds by telling her he never left. Then, the iconic gun barrel opening wraps up the film, symbolic that Bond is now the Bond we’ve come to know. He’s dealt with tragedy and ready to move on.
Our supporting cast includes Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes, who has her own mission of revenge on General Medrano. Not the typical Bond girl, which clearly makes sense considering where Bond is at emotionally at this point. The lovely Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans) plays MI6 agent Strawberry Fields, Bond’s only conquest in the movie. Her first name is never mentioned on-screen but is clearly a throwback to the classic Bond girls. Sadly, her character disappears and doesn’t return until the end of the movie, but her return clearly has an impact on Bond. Giancarlo Giannini is back as Rene Mathis, whom Bond mistakenly thought was a traitor in Casino Royale. Jeffrey Wright also appears as Felix Leiter again.
Reviews for the movie have been mixed. Personally, while I enjoy it, it is not my favorite Bond movie. I dislike the frenetic action sequences as they just seem out of place. Bond dismissal of Mathis’ body also bothers me for some reason. The plot doesn’t seem epic enough despite the underlying story of revenge. And our main villain, Dominic Greene, gets in a good fight sequence towards the end but just falls a little flat for me in the menacing department. Even Roger Moore disliked the movie, wondering what was going on half the time. I was also greatly disappointed by the opening sequence and theme song, performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys (the first time the theme song was sung by two artists as a duet). The sequence looks cheap somehow and the song really doesn’t feel like Bond. That said, Daniel Craig puts in another amazing performance and cemented his position as one of my favorite two Bonds. He’s in good company with Sean Connery. And as the final seconds of the movie indicate, James Bond will return. Unfortunately, none of us knew we’d have to wait 4 long years for Craig’s third adventure.