Daniel Craig as Bond is back and he is delivering on the same level as Casino Royale in this dark, vengeful, and action packed investigation coming of age (as a spy) story.
Now, fair warning to those that haven’t seen Casino Royale in a while, I highly recommend that you watch that movies shortly before seeing this one as it picks up almost immediately after the first film and never looks back to fill you in. We open on a high speed car chase in a tunnel alongside a lake in Italy as Bond is on the run from his pursuers with Mr. White (who he shot in the leg at the end of Casino Royale) in tow. White is suspected to be the key to a mysterious group/organization causing a huge pain in the neck for MI6 among other government agencies and Bond has brought him in for investigation. After arriving “safely” to MI6’s bunker, White proclaims, “we have people everywhere, don’t we?” which then lead’s to a foot chases through the streets, roofs, and ceilings of this Italian town in which Bond does not capture his target but is left only the option to kill him. Bond’s actions distress M (Dame Judi Dench), who feels like he is running off vengeance for Vesper’s death at the end of the previous film. Bond proclaims he is on board and heads to Haiti to follow a lead on this mysterious company’s possible clues. Upon getting to Haiti, we meet our other two leads in the film, Camille (Olga Kurylenko) and Greene (Mathieu Amalric) both of which have agenda’s over the own, with the later becoming a very popular piece of interest for Bond and his search for info on the mysterious organization.
I will spoil no more, but this is the first 20-25 minutes of the film and we have already had a car chase, a double cross, a foot chase and we will soon find ourselves in another chase in the not to distant future. The movie starts off with a bang, and never looks back to catch you up or hint to what happened in the previous film. So I again stress, watch Casino Royale before seeing this one! Anyways, after the initial half hour, the film gears down out of action movie and into more traditional spy/espionage action and intrigue, before ramping up the action for a final chase scene and the grand finale itself. Also of note, if you are looking for more of a return to the old gadgetry/tongue in cheek aspect of the previous bond films, you will be disappointed, because it is actually moving farther away from that, which I think is a good thing, but to each their own. The movies tone is dark and brooding and while there are a couple of laughs, the humor is darker as well.
Marc Forster does a fine job at crafting an engaging, well shot and edited, fast pace action movie, with the scene at the Opera house being the real standout piece of filmmaking for the picture; just a beautiful and clever scene. The only complaint one might have is that the action is shot a bit tight and quick cut for my liking and while it adds to the kinetic franticness of the action, it also makes it kind of hard to tell what is going on exactly some of the time; though it doesn’t ruin the picture by any means. Forster is new to the action world, and I am sure in his next action picture he will have learned to shoot it a bit better; ala Nolan did in the Dark Knight. Forster also does a decent job of making the film seem relevant and draws parallels between his story and the state of our world today, and does so without beating it over our heads, which is always appreciated. What Forster really excels at though, is getting great work out of his actors.
Daniel Craig is as good as he can be again here, with his brooding, vengeful Bond becoming a serious force to be reckoned with. We feel M’s concerns as we watch Bond move further along into his investigation, going off protocol and practically running rouge, pissing off other governments along the way all in search for “solace” in his loss of Vesper and bringing the wicked down along the way. Dench gets a lot more work this time around as she juggles her desires of M to both break the case without losing her Agent Bond in the process and Dench plays the balance to perfection. Mathieu Amalric is sleazily great as Greene and really creates a bad guy that we love to get behind while also not ever dipping into the over the top villain formula. Olga Kurylenko bounces off Bond’s vengeance well with the intentions of her own, and is able to hold her own as she works towards her ultimate goal while using who she has to get it.
Quantum of Solace is an excellent entry into the Bond reboot, working on the same level of quality as the previous entry. The action set pieces aren’t quite as grand, but they are thrilling none the less, with the finale actually holding up as a pretty great action sequence. The film is Bond coming to terms with what it is to be an OO and maturing greatly along the way. The film doesn’t unveil a whole lot into the overall arc of the mysterious organization; as the plot of Greene becomes the main focus, but it sets up our hero to be about fully ready to properly take them down. Quantum of Solace is a great action movie, a great extension of this new Bond lore, and a great title that makes a lot of sense once you see the movie, even if it seems entirely befuddling upon first glance. I can’t wait for James Bond to return.