The secret to keeping a movie hero viable through the years is to let that character evolve with the times, and to cast an actor that brings new dimensions to the role.Â Â â€œQuantum of Solace,â€ Daniel Craigâ€™s second outing as James Bond, proves that the success of â€œCasino Royaleâ€ was no fluke; Craig is the right Bond for these times.
Although not as good as the 2006 Bond Franchise reboot, â€œSolaceâ€ will be a must-see for hard core 007 fans. The first actual Bond sequel, the film picks up an hour after â€œCasino Royaleâ€ left off.Â Scarred by the death of Vesper Lind, Bond first squares off then pairs up with the smoldering Russian-Bolivian agent Camille (Olga Kurylenko) as he tracks down information on the nefarious Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric.) Greene is concocting a scheme to overthrow the leader of Bolivia and take control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, andâ€¦
Okay, hereâ€™s the thing: as storylines go, this one is pretty muddled and messy. Suffice it to say, there are nefarious bad guys at every turn, some of the bad guys are good, and some of the good guys are bad, and â€˜Mâ€™ (Judy Dench) gets really annoyed at 007 for always disobeying orders and taking things into his own hands. Bond fans donâ€™t go to Bond movies for the plots; we want big stunts, car chases and lots of explosions. Most of all, we go to see the rugged secret agent battle the baddies, and end up with the babes in exotic locales, and on that score, â€œQuantum of Solaceâ€ is a solid hit.
If you are curious about the title, you arenâ€™t alone. â€œQuantum of Solace,â€ meaning “a small amount of comfort” â€“ comes from a short story by Bond creator Ian Fleming, but the plot is unrelated to this film. To integrate the title into the movie, screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis named Greene’s terrorist organization “QUANTUM,” but the filmmakers freely admit they don’t know what the acronym stands for.
The James Bond films have always had a few catch phrases and touchstone moments that are passed on from film to film, and save for a few minor changes, â€œQuantum of Solaceâ€ is no exception. Bondâ€™s ubiquitous Aston Martin is back (without the gimmicky gadgets,) and the agent still prefers his martinis â€œshaken, not stirred,â€) but his famous line, â€œBond, James Bond,â€ is gone. Speaking of classic Bond films, look for a grisly nod to a characterâ€™s memorable murder in â€œGoldfinger.â€
Perhaps the closest onscreen incarnation of Ian Flemingâ€™s fictional character, Daniel Craig brings a multi-layered intensity to the role. This Bond has baggage â€“ along with dangerous eyes and a cruel mouth, and although he can still toss off a clever quip, the rising body count indicates he takes his â€˜License to Killâ€™ very seriously.
One of the things that have always separated Bond films from other action pics is the caliber of their casts, and â€œSolaceâ€ is no exception. Dench seems to warm more to the role of â€˜Mâ€™ with every film, and Almaric, who gave a bravura performance in last yearâ€™s â€œThe Diving Bell,â€ delivers a fine villain while avoiding the usual scene-chewing antics of his predecessors. The wonderful Jeffrey Wright also returns in the role of CIA operative, Felix Leiter, and definitely deserves more screen time.
Director Mark Forster (â€œThe Kite Runnerâ€ â€œFinding Neverlandâ€) keeps the high octane, non-stop action going, and Director of Photography, Roberto Schaefer manages to keep the shaky, hand-held camera effect from becoming too dizzying. Stunt Coordinator, Gary Powell choreographed the spectacular stunts (many of which were performed by Craig and company) at a breakneck, edge-of-your-seat, speed, and David Arnoldâ€™s score effectively captures the tone of bygone Bond themes. Jack White and Alicia Keyes theme song is fine, but lacks the punch of its predecessors
Bond fans will find great solace in this latest installment, the rest should probably rent one of the Bourne films. (Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min. MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.)
Big Fat Rating: â˜…â˜…â˜… for action, â˜… 1/2 for plot