Quantum of Solace (2008) dir. Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Matheiu Amalric and Olga Kurylenko
Guest review by Blair Stewart
Mild Spoiler Alert:
Blazing forward where "Casino Royale" left off, Daniel Craig's second James Bond vehicle "Quantum of Solace" is all-action and no script. We open on 007 speeding along the lakes of Italy with the mysterious Mr. White in the trunk of the car and henchmen on the chase. After the exhaustive opening we crash headlong into boat skirmishes and rooftop shootouts bringing to mind the breakneck pacing of the successful "Bourne" sequels, which has influenced and been influenced by our English spy. There's no foreplay here, its just straight to business for the new Bond.
Throughout "QofS" our hero dispenses with basic dialogue to seek revenge for the death of his double-crossed love Vesper from "Casino Royale" while the invaluable Judi Dench as MI5 boss M sweeps up his messes and keeps the film grounded amidst the pyrotechnics. Bond will follow a trail to the all-powerful Quantum organization and its dummy environmental corporation Greene Planet led by the nefarious Dominic Greene (Matheiu Amalric), who's stealing Bolivian water. While water is certainly relevant, its not as romantic a McGuffin as Fort Knox's gold.
Matheiu Amalric follows in a line of recent Hollywood antagonists like "Live Free or Die Hard's" Timothy Oliphant or Aaron Eckhart from "The Dark Knight" Two-Face who are completely overmatched against their heroic foil. James Bond is a brilliant, skilled international super spy with a relaxed attitude towards murder and Dominic Green is a corrupt industrialist who, based upon his muscle, should seriously consider renting the services of Oddjob or Jaws.
It's admirable that the lead villain is a nod towards the real life baddies in this franchise's recent pursuit of realism but it doesn't make for strong dramatic tension when 007 is matched against the likes of Jeffrey Skilling.
Helping Bond is Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes, the sexiest Bond girl in the series, and as a half-Russian agent for the Bolivian secret service who doesn't utter a word of Spanish during the film, one of the most inexplicable overwritten characters.
Making too brief an appearance is the great Jeffrey Wright from "Casino Royale" as Felix Leiter, the CIA insider who is an accomplice of James. As Judi Dench shows in this film, if you have Jeffrey Wright, use him as much as you can.
In the iconic role of Agent 007, Daniel Craig is still a relief from the aging ham of Pierce Bronsan, but his Bond is almost unpleasant to spend time with, an automaton of cool, capable destruction without the two vital qualities of previous Bond performances, debonair wit and chemistry with his Bond girls.
In the director's chair Marc Forster is capable in his action and cross-cutting storylines, but his flair can't hide a plot stretched thin and flung around the globe like a hot-potato.
My suggestion for the follow-up; slow it down, pump up the bad guy, leave the Bolivian water to the "other" cinema spies
and make a call to Chan-Wook Park, the Korean wunderkind is born to make a great Bond film.