QUANTUM OF SOLACE
**** (out of 5)
November 14 2008
Daniel Craig as JAMES BOND
Olga Kurylenko as CAMILLE
Mathieu Amalric as DOMINIC GREENE
Judi Dench as M
Giancarlo Giannini as MATHIS
Gemma Arterton as STRAWBERRY FIELDS
Jeffrey Wright as FELIX LEITER
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Marc Forster
BY KEVIN CARR
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Two years ago, the folks behind the massive James Bond franchise successfully reinvented the character with the release of “Casino Royale.” Now, they are continuing the trend with the follow-up “Quantum of Solace.”
Unlike previous Bond pictures, “Quantum of Solace” is a direct sequel to its predecessor. James Bond (Daniel Craig) is hell-bent on finding the people responsible for the death of his beloved Vesper. The film opens with him interrogating a prisoner only to find out that the organization behind her death has infiltrated the highest levels of MI6.
Soon, Bond takes matters into his own hands, tracking down the people behind the mysterious Quantum organization. This global presence has its hands in everything – from the banks to natural resources. Bond goes rouge in order to go after Quantum, and along the way he gets help from the beautiful but troubled Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who is out for revenge herself.
If you stack up “Quantum of Solace” against “Casino Royale,” it falls short a bit. However, that’s not to say that this isn’t a great film… or a great Bond film, for that matter. “Casino Royale” was simply so stellar that nothing could live up to it perfectly. Yet “Quantum of Solace” retains the magic with the reinvented Bond. It’s a ton of fun with plenty of action and excitement.
Like “Casino Royale,” some of the more traditional Bond elements are left behind. He never orders a martini shaken or stirred (although he is seen drinking “The Vesper” cocktail invented in the previous film). The classic Bond theme isn’t heard until the ending credits, and there isn’t the slate of gadgets at his disposal.
I respect the filmmakers for honoring the reinvention of the character. Daniel Craig continues to make a tremendous Bond, which is more than can be said for Timothy Dalton who really stumbled in his sophomore effort. This is a harder Bond than the Brosnan and Moore years. Craig embodies more of the Connery character by bringing a rugged, scoundrel nature to the role.
There is a bit of a shift in focus with this film. On one hand, Bond’s motivation is vengeance for the death of Vesper. On the other hand, he’s trying to bring down a multinational organization that is greater than the responsibility of a single death. They are connected, but Bond goes after them not for the greater good but rather to uncover a means to revenge.
Mathieu Amalric plays Dominic Green, one of the members of the Quantum organization and Bond’s main target in this film. He’s less of the freaky Bond villain and more of the political manipulator. His egomaniacal grand scheme is worthy of a Bond villain, but he’s not the overt terror that we’ve seen in the past with Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice” or even the eye-bleeding Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale.” Still, he’s got an evil plan, and the fact that he’s hiding under the veil of a do-goody environmental front is even more rich.
Some feathers have been ruffled by the less-than-pristine portrayal of the Americans in this film, stemming from the subplot of the CIA getting in bed with Greene. However, it’s clearly pointed out that this is the unsavory nature of international politics, and I wouldn’t paint this as an anti-American point in the film.
Both Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton are worthy Bond girls, showing an attitude we’ve become accustomed to in these new films. I’ve adored Kurylenko since her sensual tattooed turn in “Hitman” (easily the best thing in that movie, and Arterton recently stole some scenes in Guy Ritchie’s “RockNRolla.” There’s also a nod to “Goldfinger” in one scene that is a rare throwback to the early Bond pictures.
While not as perfect as “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace” is a worthy follow-up. It’s definitely making me eager to see what’s in store for Daniel Craig in his third outing as the legendary British spy.