Take Solace: 007 is back again

Daniel Craig is Bond. James Bond ... again. With Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig moves into a tie with Timothy Dalton for most Bond appearances, and that’s what’s important, right? The tie with Dalton is actually significant as it is widely regarded that Dalton’s Bond was the darkest and most closely related to the one from Ian Fleming’s original novels. With a death toll likely one of the highest ever for a Bond film, Daniel Craig’s Bond is easily surpassing Dalton’s in the dark and brooding category. Craig’s personal toughness was proven during the filming of Quantum, as he suffered multiple injuries on the set including slicing off a fingertip and another that required the insertion of six screws into his shoulder after aggravating an old injury.

Quantum of Solace picks up right where Casino Royale left off, beginning with the first car chase opening sequence in 21 years for the franchise. On a side note, this is also the first film since then to use a title from one of Ian Fleming’s original stories.

We continue to explore some of the more psychological aspects that Bond must deal with as Agent 007 working for MI6. Since the loss of lover Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Bond has become more of a flawed assassin. He uses his license to kill liberally, preferring to shoot first and ask questions later, much to the dismay of M (played by Judi Dench). The villain this time is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), an eco-terrorist and high player in the mysterious Quantum organization who makes a living deposing and installing governments. He lacks any distinguishing characteristic, making him somewhat bland and more worthy of a secondary player instead of the main villain. He does have his moments, including a very visual threat to a former dictator of Bolivia and a classic murder that’s a throwback to 1964’s Goldfinger.

Unfortunately, some of the major hallmarks of the Bond franchise have gone missing in this revamped version. The legendary introductory line of “Bond, James Bond” was not used for only the second time in history and the phrase “vodka martini, shaken not stirred” wasn’t used for only the fourth time in 22 films. In addition, the absence of Q, MI6’s gadgetry designer extraordinaire from Craig’s Bond movies, is fairly disheartening, as his gadgets are as much a part of the franchise as the women.

This brings up another point: the women themselves. Since the series began, way back with 1962’s Dr. No, the role of women in the franchise has been heavily debated. For Quantum, the debate came to a head when Rolling Stone magazine, in their review, called Olga Kurylenko’s character Camille “perhaps the dullest Bond girl ever.” While I don’t want to get into a debate here about feminism and women’s rights, I can’t really disagree with Rolling Stone, though it may be her acting that turned me off to her. And while many will not like her for being portrayed as tough, independent, and unwilling to sleep with Bond, she still is a stunning beauty who has a thing for revenge, and those are always pluses in my book.

Moving back to the film, it is visually stunning. Bond spans the globe in his hunt for the truth with scenes shot everywhere from Italy to Chile. From the high-octane opening car chase to a free fall into the bowels of a cavern, this film never fails to impress with scenes of danger to the most extreme. Most importantly, each fight scene is entirely believable, though hard to follow at times. Therein lies the main flaw with this film: the camera movement. The action in each fast-paced scene, about 90 percent of each one, was too difficult to follow. Shades of the Bourne trilogy abound as director Marc Forster admitted to editing the film in the style of the Bourne movies to match Bond’s frenetic pace in Quantum. All I’m saying is that those of you prone to nausea may have some issues.

In the year of what would have been Bond creator Ian Fleming’s 100th birthday, Quantum of Solace takes elements of old and new to create a visually stunning piece of work that falls short of its predecessor, but adds on another piece of history to an already legendary franchise. Quantum is a must-see for any fan of James Bond. For those of you who enjoy cold-blooded acts, gritty action, explosions, or any sort of death — please satisfy your thirst for violence and see this motion picture.