Quantum of Solace **
Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Olga Kurylenko as Camille
Mathiew Amalric as Dominic Greene
Judi Dench as M
Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis
Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.
There is a recent attempt to do a "reboot" of several popular franchises, met with great acclaim by both audiences and critics alike. Batman was highly successful, more as a sequel than the original as part of my own opinion, and James Bond is now proving to also be successful, more the first than the sequel, also a part of my own opinion. These reboots have followed a similar formula, becoming much more darker and bleaker than their original more campy and loud counterparts from the past. After 2006's "Casino Royale," it was clear where the writers wanted to go with this new James Bond, a more darker and mentally unstable character than the more suave portrayals of the past. And the terrific re-introduction to the character, and his first adventure from that film had more potential than the sequel ended up bringing, and instead of continuing the multi-layered story of "Casino Royale," they created a more footnote conclusion that simply had none of the intensity or the drama the first film promised.
At the end of "Casino Royale," 007 agent James Bond was in mentally angst over the death and betrayal of his love Vesper Lynd. Hellbent on revenge against those who wronged him, he has become a kiling machine, much to the worry of his boss, M. He eventually crosses paths with a man who attempted to kill M, by the name of Dominic Greene, a businessman who is out to control the water supply of Bolvia, in what is probably the worst and most low-key plot I have ever seen in a James Bond film. And this leads him to cross paths with Greene's lover, the sexy and dangerous Camille, who has her own reasons for twisting herself with Greene. Meanwhile M's superiors are breathing down her neck as they worry about Bond, and wonder if he has become a traitor to their side, leading her to come into the action herself.
Craig is a terrific James Bond, and a perfect embodiment with the clear direction that this set of James Bond films wishes to go. He is dark and mysterious, brooding but never appearing weak. He is at a cross roads in his life, hurt and betrayed. He hardly gives heed to Camille, and he enjoys the presence of a second Bond girl, the radically named Strawberry Fields (who for some reason is only referred to as Fields during the film, and her full name can be seen during the credits). Craig is giving a fine performance in what is probably the weakest script and direction he could possibly be. He is a great character trapped in the most generic action film possible, as if the writers found some medicre script and rewrote it to apply it to the Bond character.
For one thing, Marc Forster has finally found a genre that he is not apt to direct. While drifting successfully from drama, to comedy, to thriller, he never seems to make any film like the one before it. He makes several mistakes of the action genre, creating several action scenes that are filled with headache inducing shaky camera work and half a second shot after half a second shot. It gets to the point where one cannot even enjoy the action scenes-here a car chase, a plane crash, and a chase through an explosive building-because they cannot even see what is going on. I had a similar problem with "Batman Begins," only Nolan managed to fix his mistakes in "The Dark Knight." There are potentially great action scenes here, but they become clouded by a poor execution. In addition, they turn Bond into this more physical action character than the more brooding realistic one that "Casino Royale" began to portray.
The screenplay does not help matters, especially when it comes to the more dramatic section of the story. Based on the way the last film ended, there could have been a lot more done with the inner turmoil that the Bond character is going through, and several ideas are briefly presented and never follow through. This is the shortest Bond film in the history of the franchise, and I would not have minded some more study and less action scenes, especially if they want to go for a more darker tone. They hint at the relationship between him and M, the only woman who can put a harness on him and have him see his faults. When Bond turns himself over to Camille at the end of the film, instead of having a more emotional impact as he begins to realize life after Vesper, it seems wooden and stale. And the final scene, which does a good job at hinting at later installments in the franchise, is lifeless when it should have, and could have been, oddly moving. There are tons of failed potential littered throughout this film, and they instead dumb it down to appease to a more action craving audience.
There are a handful of good moments throughout, however sparse. Already mentioning Craig, I'll also mention Judi Dench who has done the role of M several times, and knows how its done. While Olga Kurylenko is unmemorable and dull as a Bond girl, I did enjoy the performance by Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields, who is the more playful and outlandish girl from days old. Her demise is a nice throwback to "Goldfinger," although in a much darker light. And one of my very favorite actors from France, Mathiew Amalric, does a decent job with Dominic Greene, although the screenplay doesn't help much to make him a classic villian. And minor scenes in the movie, including the introduction to the crime gang Quantum during an opera, are classy, well directed, and provide a few laughs. But all in all, "Quantum of Solace" is a sorry installment in a reboot that could have went several directions and opted for noen of them. It's a sorry epilogue to the rather brilliant opening of "Casino Royale," but still gives me hope for another gripping adventure in the James Bond canon.