“James Bond, Re-Bourne”
“Quantum of Solace”
Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Judi Dench
Directed by Marc Fortser
Almost two years to the day after “Casino Royale” effectively branded Daniel Craig as the best Agent 007 to don a tux since Sean Connery’s heyday, James Bond returns for his 22nd official mission in “Quantum of Solace.” There’s no question that it’s a great action movie, but if you’re expecting a great James Bond movie, prepare to be shaken, not stirred.
Where “Casino Royale” successfully rebooted the franchise that was born in 1962 by going back to basics, “Quantum of Solace” strips Bond so far back that he more closely resembles the likes of gritty super-spy Jason Bourne. That’s evident from the get-go during a hyper-kinetic car chase, which turns into a thrilling rooftop pursuit that’s reminiscent of “The Bourne Ultimatum.”
Picking up where “Casino Royale” left off, Agent 007 seeks out to avenge the death of his beloved Vesper. His personal vendetta leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless businessman who plans to seize control of the world’s most valuable resource. With the help of a mysterious ally named Camille (Olga Kurylenko), it’s up to James Bond to stop that from happening.
Thanks to a career that includes art house fare like “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland” and “The Kite Runner,” Marc Forster may seem like an unusual choice to direct a reported $200 million tentpole like “Quantum of Solace.” He rises to the occasion when it comes to the action scenes, but his attempts to shake up the franchise have taken the fun out of the character. Gone are the cheesy one-liners, and Bond works his bedroom eyes on just one femme fatale.
More importantly, the screenplay (written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) is so convoluted that trying to determine the plot winds up being a mission unto itself. Then again, that’s been the case with most of the Bond movies over the last 20 years, since the end of the Cold War made it increasingly difficult for writers to come up with fully realized villains that moviegoers loved to hate.
But “Quantum” still has plenty of milestones: at 1 hour and 45 minutes, it’s the shortest Bond adventure. It’s also the first-ever Bond sequel, and the signature gunshot at the beginning has been moved to the end. And it has its mainstays, like the exotic locales and the battle of wits between Bond and M (played by Judi Dench, who makes her biggest impact yet in a Bond movie).
If “Quantum of Solace” is the middle part of a trilogy, here’s hoping that Bond #23 will get the long-running series back on the track most recently paved by “Casino Royale.” Daniel Craig has Agent 007 down, and his CIA ally, Felix Leiter (played by Jeffrey Wright), will hopefully have a bigger role next time around. But let’s remember that this is James Bond, not Jason Bourne – and where Bond is concerned, nobody does it better.
VERDICT: SEE IT!