Quantum of Solace

quantumPut me down as a major fan of the James Bond reboot that started with 2006’s Casino Royale — the Bourne-ification of the series, if you will. The new film, Quantum of Solace, owes even more to the Jason Bourne series than the previous one, and you’ll get no complaints from me.

Gone are the invisible cars, jet packs and watches that double as machine guns. Gone, too, are villains with dastardly plans to cut the world in half from outer space with a laser or wipe out the planet’s human population with a virus. The new villains are in it simply for the money, and Bond battles them using simply his brawn and his wits.

Daniel Craig’s Bond is by far the most physical of the series… you can feel the punches he lands, and even more so the punches landed on him. And he’s the first who really drives home what it means to have a license to kill. Watching Bond stare coolly into the distance while pinning down an adversary until he bleeds to death, you grasp how truly dangerous he is. But at the same time, Craig is the most vulnerable Bond, because the arc of the first two films makes him the victim of a doomed love affair that wounds him more than any bullet or knife.

It’s wonderful to see Craig tackle this character as an acting challenge… a challenge both physical and emotional. The earlier films increasingly turned Bond into a cliche — one part action hero, one part debonair lover, one part stand-up comedian. The new Bond does love women, and he does slip in a joke or two, but he’s entirely a man of action driven to complete his mission by any means necessary.

The mission in Quantum of Solace is ostensibly about bringing down an evil businessman intent on buying up half of Bolivia for mysterious reasons. But Bond’s true mission is to avenge the death of Vesper Lynd (played beautifully by Eve Green in Casino Royale). The Bond-Vesper relationship lifted Royale to another level, one that’s missing here, but the memory of that pairing does work to sell Bond’s ferocious despair.

Gorgeous Olga Kurylenko plays a Bond girl with a revenge plot of her own and Gemma Arterton plays Strawberry Fields, a more traditional Bond girl who falls into bed with Bond about 15 minutes after meeting him. Jeffrey Wright returns as Felix Leiter, and I look forward to him playing an increasingly large role in this series. Most appreciated is the expanded role of Judi Dench’s M., and the mother-son, um, bond, she shares with Bond.

Quantum of Solace doesn’t have the revelatory impact of Casino Royale, but it establishes beyond a doubt that the producers are doing the right thing with this series. I look forward to watching Daniel Craig in this role for years.

13 thoughts on “Quantum of Solace

  1. pegclifton says:

    we plan to see this during the week. I miss the “mischief” as A.O. Scott stated in his review of the movie in the NYTimes of the older Bond movies, but I agree that Daniel Craig makes a great Bond.

  2. Kerrie Rueda says:

    As usual, a very nice review of a movie Carlos and I enjoyed tremendously. I’ve heard people say this Bond is too dark and not as tongue in cheek as previous incarnations, etc., but this Bond works for me. Quantum of Solace was only the second Bond film I’ve ever seen in the theater (the other was A View to a Kill), and the first I was actually excited to see and made sure I saw on opening day.

    I guess I understand the comparison to the Bourne franchise, (especially after the first action sequence in Q of S), but they are worlds apart for me in every other way. I enjoy Bourne very much, too, but this Bond is STILL quintessentially Bond. I did find myself chuckling throughout this film because of the little quips Bond throws out. Plus, he’s still driving a fantastic car (and it’s not invisible!!). 🙂 I also agree with you about the villains in this “reboot” (to steal your word). I never really got into the earlier Bond films because the villains were such caricatures that they were just plain goofy. They’d keep Bond alive long enough to tell him every detail of their plot and then he’d have time to break free and save the day. (I mean, seriously, Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies really wasn’t much of an exaggeration of the original from an old Bond flick. When I saw the original, I almost fell over laughing.) These new villains are bad, very bad, and they bring creepy to a new level because they are much more believable than the old ones and they don’t give him an inch. No one is keeping Bond alive to spill their plans, they’re either torturing him or going all out to kill him.

    Just as Christian Bale is my Batman, Daniel Craig is my James Bond, and I look forward to future installments of 007 in action as long as he’s at the helm.

  3. Patrick says:

    it will be easy to make Quantum of Solace spoofs… every where this Bond goes he breaks glass, he can’t get a gallon of milk from the store without it turning into a chase scene, and every time he punches someone in the face, they die

  4. dana says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, but your review confirms every reason why I have no interest in seeing this movie.

  5. Clay says:

    Glad I helped save you the $10. 🙂

  6. Clay says:

    I think Kerrie’s on to something with her Austin Powers comment. In fact, I’d say a combination of Austin Power and Jason Bourne led to the death of the old Bond formula — the former by pointing out how absurd the conventions were and the latter by redefining the globe-trotting super-spy as dangerous, serious and angst-ridden.

  7. Dana says:

    So now you can throw away the old fun cliche Bond for the dark angst ridden cliche Bond. I’ll take the fun any day, and twice on Sunday.

  8. Clay says:

    I understand that sentiment, but be honest now… what’s the last really memorable Bond film prior to Casino Royale? For me, you’d have to go back 31 years to The Spy Who Loved Me. Of course the Connery films, released in the 60s, were all great (and less tongue-in-cheek than Roger Moore’s installments).

    The Bond films released in my lifetime have always been fun and forgettable, the cinematic equivalent of an amusement park ride. And that’s a perfectly worthy thing to be.

    But the reason I’m excited by this new direction is that these work for me as films, and as character studies, as much as entertainment. It’s refreshing to have a Bond who can really be hurt, and in more ways than one.

  9. Dana says:

    I can’t say that I have loved many of the Bond films, and certainly less so since ROger Moore retired. But, as you well know, I am not someone who cares much for the action genre, so for me to find it compelling, it needs to have more–whether that be humor or just a great plot. I found the last Bond film to have neither, and from what I can tell, this one is more of the same. Character study alone doesn’t do it for me, especially when that character spends half the film or more going through extended action sequences that bore me to death.

  10. Clay says:

    Yeah, the new Bond (and Bourne) films are definitely not for those who aren’t fans of the action genre.

  11. Kerrie says:

    What I love is that the “new” Bond finds a way to blend all of these things in a way that makes me excited to watch (character study, action, comedy). There is definitely a character study here that never existed in the “old” Bond films and I find myself wondering when/how he becomes the cad that we all know and love. I’m enjoying this unraveling of the character and getting to know what makes him tick.

    I will say, though, that although I thought the scene with “Fields – just Fields” was comical, it did strike me as a bit out of place in the context of this new Bond. I guess that’s the first glimmer of what he will become, but I felt like there needed to be more space between the character we’re learning about and what he’s trying to resolve personally, and this witty playboy. The rest of the movie was really dedicated to the revenge angle and him learning the truth about Vesper, and I don’t think the film would have suffered without the introduction of this tryst.

    That said, I enjoyed this installment and the direction in which the series is moving.

  12. Amy says:

    Gone are the invisible cars and jet packs? 😦 May they rest in peace.

    Still, I’m glad to hear that Jeffrey Wright – THE Jeffrey Wright – is getting more to do, as I do love him. I’m not a huge fan of action sequences in general; Michael Bay symbolizes everything I hate about Hollywood. Still, I can appreciate a thrilling action sequence. I think, all joking aside, I do mourn the loss of the fun franchise that Bond represented. I fondly remember going to see “Bond” as a family, knowing we’d all laugh together and enjoy the ridiculously cool gadgets and that Mom would never have to leave the theater for fear that James would be tortured or harmed. I miss that. There are lots of great action films; the Bourne series certainly among them.

    I just don’t see why they had to go and take the fun Bond away. The Austin Powers spoofs made me just love the old Bond films all the more. Those weren’t plot flaws that made the films weaker; they were part of the absurd fun that made them so identifiable. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a cartoon villian such as Jaws any day. Freaky, disturbing and hilarious — what more could one have wanted from a classic Bond villian?

  13. pegclifton says:

    We saw the movie last night, and I was disappointed. Casino Royale was one of my favorite Bond movies (even after I returned to the theatre after the torture scene), because it had a story line. This one is too heavy on action and not enough on plot. I do like the new Bond, but I hope they don’t continue in this direction.

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