Editor’s Note: Our good friend and European Station Chief Loukas checks in with our first account of James Bond’s latest cinematic adventure Quantum of Solace, which hits theaters in Europe starting October 31st and then here in the United States on November 14th. Check out his report below…
Like every movie goer out there, I’ve seen all of the James Bond movies at least once and chatted with friends over who was the best in depicting the famous—though not that profoundly written—character. Two years ago Casino Royal gave us a look inside the making of Bond, MI6 superspy, with Daniel Craig in the main part, a new face to recharge the respective conversation. Quantum of Solace begins an hour after its predecessor’s ending (a sequel for the first time in the series), to complete the agent’s profile and make Craig a serious nominee for best Bond ever.
In short, we find the enraged agent caught in a car chase in Sienna, on his way to meet M (Judy Dench) and their captive Mr. White. After shaking off the bad guys, he appears at the lair, only to discover, along with his boss, that there will always be some ghost organization with people everywhere to make life difficult for them. This time he has to chase a certain bad guy on foot—parkour-style of course—before finding himself in Haiti following a lead, where he bumps on Camille (Olga Kurylenko) a wild lady with a murderous agenda and Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), an international facilitator with an eco-friendly covert operation.
That’s when he strays away from his own objective, avenging the death of Vesper Lynd, and gets mixed up in a very modern conspiracy involving a military coup d’etat, the oil trade and a country’s water supplies. What else is there for this superspy to do, but take charge and do the world’s laundry for us?
From the very start Marc Forster and his writers (including Paul Haggis) give us a taste of what will follow—pure unadulterated action. The chase on Sienna’s rooftops and the way it resolves is one of the most engaging pieces of high-paced filmmaking I’ve ever seen, and it definitely made me want more. The key ingredient here is Dan Bradley’s coordination. He’s the man behind Bourne’s relentless action and he shows what he can do for Bond also. So, what we practically get is 106 minutes of vehicle (all kinds, really) chasing, gun fighting, punch throwing and stuff exploding with small intervals of character building, plot laying and a slice of flirting. I guess that’s not the best possible package for a classic Bond fan-boy. Well, I’m not one. Plus there is someone who makes a very good case in favor of this new approach, and that’s Daniel Craig.
The English actor has given new life to a character that was trapped to its own stereotypes. Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re watching the origins of the whole Bond myth and his persona is being gradually formed, but Craig is like nothing we’ve ever seen from his predecessors. He really gets down and dirty, he brawls in street manner, he kills with no hesitation, he acts out of impulse and most importantly he’s full of rage and he knows it. Daniel Craig looks just right for the job, as he brings total credibility and a shitload of suppressed energy to the screen. And the best part? He still doesn’t care what the fuck it is that he’s drinking. I think there is a good chance he might top the Bond charts soon.
Olga Kurylenko is impressively tanned and feisty while she seeks a revenge of her own, but she doesn’t really hit it off with the man. That’s Gemma Arterton’s job as a female agent that’s supposed to put him back on a plane to London. She’s adorable but not enough to make us forget Olga. Judy Dench and Giancarlo Giannini hold their own as expected while Jeffrey Wright makes a strong reappearance as CIA agent Felix Leiter. The bad guy is portrayed with the required arrogance by Mathieu Amalric yet he isn’t enough of a presence to even suggest a fight worth watching. Nevertheless he gives it his best try in the end.
The film’s politics seem current, with Bolivia as the place of unrest and in the center, a simplistic poke at the holy dimensions given to everything that passes itself as eco-friendly and the dangers this approach holds. Of course the plot is more or less implausible, but the film’s pace never gives us any time to think it over. Who cares. It’s good enough to put James Bond in tough places, and make M and his government consider him a threat, hence giving him the opportunity to be alone against the world.
I had a great time watching Quantum of Solace. This is good entertainment with a real actor up front, and I hope they keep it up that way for future Bond films.