Not the “Quantum” leap Bond fans may have hoped for
The first sequel in the Bond franchise, “Quantum of Solace” feels cold and calculated in no small part to Daniel Craig’s humorless portrayal as 007, continuing the killing machine oeuvre established in “Casino Royale.” Because the much more serious tone was so different than previous installments of Ian Fleming’s legendary series, Craig’s debut felt refreshingly updated despite the film’s flaws.
In “Quantum,” Bond seeks to exact revenge on those who killed his beloved Vesper. With only the fringes of a plot fleshed out, the film boils down to one relentless action sequence after another. Writers Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have squeezed the living daylights out of the remnants of Bond’s past, so much so that many of the zany elements that defined the series are gone. There’s limited gadgetry, (save one cool, huge iPhone-like table), no one-liners, and no bikini-clad foes. Or allies, for that matter.
The fact that “Quantum of Solace” bears more resemblance to the “Bourne” or “Transporter” films than previous 007s may be of little concern to many fans, especially the under-30 males who make up an important marketing demographic. This film will make money.
And, as pure action films go, it is a pretty good one.
Picking up where “Casino Royale” left off, and after a dazzling Aston vs. Alfa car chase, Bond continues to hunt down Vesper’s lone at-large killer. British security has been compromised and M (Judi Dench) makes overtures to reign in her most fearless and recklessly independent agent. Eventually, Bond partners up with a sexy but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who has her own agenda for ruthless eco-criminal Dominic Greene (Matthew Amalric). Not surprisingly, Bond’s pursuit of a shadowy organization has him globe-hopping as the film skips around to Italy, Mexico, Haiti, and Austria-for a particularly memorable cat-and-mouse sequence during a performance of “Tosca” on a floating stage at the Bregenz Festival House.
Director Marc Forster has shown profound skill while at the helm for a diverse set of excellent films including “The Kite Runner” (a should-have-been-Best Picture nominee), “Stranger than Fiction,” “Finding Neverland,” and “Monster’s Ball.” His stamp here seems more workmanlike than nuanced-largely because of a lack of character development in the screenplay. There are some thrilling shots, but the scope of the action has been somewhat blunted by the close proximity of much of the filming.
Nothing here is sub-par, nor does any one scene rival the parkour-influenced opening chase in “Casino Royale” for sheer breathless wonder.
To its credit, “Quantum” barely slows down to take a breath, and at a brisk 106 minutes it never overstays its welcome. Still, can a Bond film that leans more toward Timothy Dalton than Pierce Brosnan be considered progress?
Rating: PG-13 for violence and sexual situations