I had great expectations for “Quantum of Solace“. I hadn’t seen it when it first came out and all my friends had said it was a terrific movie.Well, I finally saw it on DVD and I was profoundly disappointed. It is nowhere near as good as it’s predecessor Casino Royale , a pity because it could have been better,so much better.
( Spoiler alert)The movie takes up where Casino Royale left off.It begins with a hair-raising car chase as Bond drives from scenic Lake Garda to Siena, Italy with Mr. White, the captured criminal mastermind, in the car trunk. He manages to outwit his pursuers , sending them crashing down the hillside, and limps into Siena, to a cavernous room where M is waiting to interrogate Mr. White about his terrorist organization Quantum . Before they can get very far, M’s traitorous bodyguard Mitchell attacks her enabling White to escape. In a thrilling chase over the rooftops of Siena Bond catches up with Mitchell but is unable to take him alive. Still trying get a bead on Quantum, Bond surfaces in Haiti where he kills the baddie Slate and rescues the beautiful Camille Montes ( Olga Kurylenko). She has been trying to avenge her father’s death at the hands of the corrupt General Medrano. In order to do so, she has had to cozy up to Dominic Greene ( Mathieu Amalric), the head of the eco-organization Greene Planet. It is Greene who is the chief villain of Quantum of Solace as he maneuvers to bribe General Medrano and corner a large part of the Bolivian desert for his own nefarious purposes. Greene has convinced the American and British authorities that there are underground reservoirs of oil to be had there and consequently, the secret services of those two countries are cooperating with him. Making Bond’s job even more difficult is the fact that M begins to doubt his loyalty, thinking that he is driven by a desire to avenge the killing of his lover Vesper . She cancels his credit cards and attempts to capture him and have him returned to England. Bond escapes his captors in a short but brutal fight sequence in the hotel elevator and makes his way to Bolivia where he is aided by Camille Montes and his old friend Rene Mathis. How Bond manges to find out what Greene’s real objective is and how he thwarts Greene’s plans form the rest of the story. True to Bond films , Quantum is replete with terrific action sequences. In addition to those already mentioned there is a motorboat chase in the Port-au-Prince harbor, an aerial dogfight in Bolivia and a climactic firefight at an eco-hotel in the Bolivian desert.These are just the highlights; there may be two or three others which I’ve not mentioned for lack of space.After besting Greene, Bond also squares accounts with Yusuf Kabira who had been one of the lynchpins of Quantum responsible for recruiting Vesper, leading ultimately to her death.
If Quantum of Solace disappoints, it is not because of Daniel Craig. In this , his second outing asJames Bond, he is terrific: assured and entirely believable as the British superspy. He combines ruthlessness and hard-edged charm as no one has since Sean Connery, the original Bond. His muscular physique suggests that he is capable of doing all the fighting that the role calls for. Well, almost all the fighting. I know that one is expected to suspend one’s disbelief when it comes to Bond’s fighting capabilities but this just a little too much. In Quantum of Solace, Bond is more like an invincible superhero than a flesh-and blood character. He does get scratched but he wins every fight , often against insurmountable odds .It would have been better if he had been shown as being just a a little bit more vulnerable ( as he was in Casino Royale). The action sequences also are too much of a good thing. They are certainly spectacular but they come thick and fast. The viewer has barely caught his breath after a harrowing fight sequence or chase when the next such sequence starts.The relentless pace of the movie makes the story difficult to follow. It would have been much more effective had there been some quiet periods between the action sequences,as there would have been more time to develop the characters and the plot.Adding to the problem is the quickcutting technique used for the action sequences which make them rushed and difficult to absorb.
One of the other problems with the movie is the casting of the arch-villain Dominic Greene. Matthieu Amalric as Greene doesn’t appear sufficiently menacing and his slender physique makes us feel that Bond could wallop him with one hand tied behind his back. Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes looks fetching and turns in a competent performance as Camille Montes and the rest of the cast is adequate. I wish the romance between Bond and Montes had been developed a bit more though I suppose he is still grieving for Vesper.
Overall, Quantum of Solace has several of the trademarks that have made the Bond adventures such megahits for half a century. Gorgeous scenery,opulent settings, beautiful women, the trademark musical score ( though it appears at the end of the movie rather than the beginning), nonstop action ( a little too nonstop, in my opinion),dastardly villains, familiar characters and ,of course , the unflappable secret agent James Bond. Bond aficionados will enjoy Quantum of Solace even as they mentally enumerate the ways in which it could have been better.
My Rating: *** ( 3 stars out of five).