Quantum of Solace, the latest installment in the James Bond series, begins with a rush of adrenaline followed by a testosterone chaser. Quantum of Solace steps it up with high-energy car chases, incredibly intricate fight scenes and breathtaking views of Europe and South America.
Daniel Craig (Munich, Casino Royale), as the latest incarnation of 007 with his brooding, stoic portrayal of Britain's greatest super agent, is fascinating. James Bond is attempting to deal with the loss he suffered in the first film, and finds himself having to admit that there are emotions somewhere underneath his tuxedo and chiseled abs in Quantum of Solace. While there are no scenes with a sobbing Bond, there are some moments where Daniel Craig takes Bond out of the incredible world of espionage and into the world that the rest of us inhabit.
Directed by Marc Foster (Stranger Than Fiction, Finding Neverland), the action in Quantum of Solace is reminiscent of the action in films with the American alter ego of Mr. Bond, Jason Bourne. Some of the hand to hand combat sequences can be hard to follow for this very reason. Quick edits make following the action a bit difficult at times. It adds to the pulse of Quantum of Solace (which is pretty much like sprinting 400 meters, immediately followed by sprinting another 400 meters), but it makes it hard at times to know who is dead and who isn't.
Olga Kurylenko (Hitman, Max Payne) plays the Bond girl, but unlike most other Bond girls, she barely gets a peck on the cheek from 007. She's an absolute beauty, but she seems to be helping Bond deal more with the sudden arrival of emotion rather than his normally overactive libido. Newcomer Gemma Arterton (Rocknrolla) provides the flesh which James Bond so strongly desires, although her fate doesn't quite turn out as one would hope. Her last scene is a bit slick.
Dame Judi Dench, darling of the British acting world, performs amazingly well as M in her blend of cold militarism and motherly concern. Giancarlo Giannini (Casino Royale, Hannibal) and Jeffrey Wright (Broken Flowers, W) round out a cast that breathes life into those scenes and spaces where Bond himself is as dry as his martinis.
Mathieu Amalric (Munich, Marie Antoinette) plays the chief villain in Quantum of Solace, although the people perpetrating the villainy are often difficult to unmask. His French accent, European style and slight build make him the perfect fit for an evil underworld type of character. He is the face (if not the brains) of an unknown international consortium of wealth, oil, power and other mysterious substances. The story revolves around a plot of land in Bolivia where the former dictator General Medrano (played quite believably by Joaquín Cosio) is attempting to rise to power once again. Medrano enlists the nameless, faceless agency to assist him in this endeavor, and Bond travels throughout Europe, part of Asia and South America to learn the truth.
Quantum of Solace deals with various global vices like oil, energy, waste, consumption and of course power. While films such as this have action that not even a faith healer could find plausible, the issues revolving around the film are a bit disturbing. Could there be an international consortium led by a faceless group of individuals who truly make wars? What exactly are our precious resources? What does the lack of, or increasing lack of, oil mean in terms of allies and enemies of the western world?
Quantum of Solace is an excellent action movie, covers an abundance of international issues, looks crisp and clean and lacks only slightly in plot. The disappointment is that it's not quite a James Bond film. Quantum of Solace would be more fitting if the main character were named Charles Smith, Edward Kane or any other character, but Bond fans may find it lacking when it comes to quintessential James Bond characteristics. The opening song performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys is fine, but the true James Bond overture doesn't come in until the end. Still it is worth seeing and deserves a large audience.
“Quantum of Solace”
Rated PG-13. Runtime 106 min. Theatrical release 11/14/2008.
PR.com Rating: B+