The Bond franchise continued to break from its hokey past of witty one-liners, impossible gadgets and seemingly random sexual romps in "Quantum of Solace," the second installment of the new brooding and introspective 007.
Daniel Craig turned in another powerhouse performance, convincing audiences once again that James Bond could be played by a chap with blond hair. In fact, the whole cast was excellent. The problem with the film was that it tried to strike a balance between keeping Bond recognizable to generations of fans who fell in love with the more frivolous secret agent and this new guy who sometimes seemed like a sociopath.
"Quantum of Solace" begins 20 minutes after the end of "Casino Royale." Bond has captured one of the leaders of the shadowy Quantum organization and is trying to speed him away for questioning. This incarnation of Bond is clearly more brutal than his predecessors. He kills people for almost no reason at all and appears to recklessly endanger innocent civilians to get revenge on Quantum, the group responsible for the death of his lover, Vesper, in the previous film.
Throughout the movie, the viewer may question whether Bond is acting out of a sense of duty to uncover the truth about the sinister people in Quantum, or if he is acting out of sheer rage over the loss of someone he loved.
All the fundamental traits of a Bond film are still in place: an artistic presentation of the opening credits backed by a pop song, a needless sex scene, some witty lines and, of course, a Bond Girl. At the same time, the film seemed forced into maintaining all the elements of a franchise that has clearly transformed after the departure of Pierce Brosnon in the wake of his attrocious finale, "Die Another Day."
For example, the main sexual tension in the film is between Bond and the mysterious Bolivian secret service agent Camile. However, the only sex in the movie is a rather disappointing encounter between Bond and a throwaway character, Ms. Fields, a fellow MI-6 employee whom he seduces with one of the few funny lines in the film. "Can you come here for a minute?" Bond said from across a luxurious hotel suite. "I'm having trouble finding the, uh, stationary."
The scene did nothing to advance the plot and is too simple for the more complex story line of this new Bond.
The action sequences have been criticized in a review by The New York Times as too jumpy and disjointed. I understood that criticism and at times the choppy camera shots were distracting, but overall the action sequences were exhilarating. The opening high-speed chase was a duel between an Alfa Romero and an Aston Martin, which had everyone in the sold-out show on the edge of their seats -- everyone except the high-school-age couple making out in the row in front of me.
Despite some of the shortcomings, there were aspects of the film that were improved from "Casino Royale." "Casino Royale" opened with a rather unforgettable tune by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. But "Quantum of Solace" enlisted music giants Alicia Keys and Jack White to write the song, "Just Another Way to Die," which rolled with the credits after the opening scene. White, of the White Stripes, added his distinct guitar-playing style and eccentric song structures to the piece. Keys inserted a funky piano line and soulful vocals to what sounded like a traditional Bond title song.
White's guitar line was a variation of the familiar Bond theme. The main riff in the song is reminiscent of Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die," the title song from the 1973 Bond film with Roger Moore as the leading man.
All things considered, the film was excellent. I have been a Bond fan for as long as I can remember and have seen all 21 of the previous films at least twice -- even the more painful ones such as "The Living Daylights" and "Moonraker." While Timothy Dalton still occupies his place in history as the worst Bond in my estimation, the title of best Bond will soon be a battle between the slick and charming Sean Connery and the icy Daniel Craig.
Contact staff writer David Larter at
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