Quantum of Solace
Coming off the enormous success of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig made his second appearance as 007 here under the direction of Marc Forster. After the director proved himself in some heavy dramas such as The Kite Runner and Monster’s Ball, everyone thought he would be the perfect person to do the next Bond film. Wait what? While the film looks beautiful and most of the action scenes are very well done (thank you, 2nd unit director), Forster seems to bring nothing to the franchise and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his background. However, like many of the main characters in his films, Bond is completely depressed and emotionless here until the final scene. This is a real disappointment because at the end of Casino Royale, we all thought we were in for a big Bond adventure. Hell, I even thought we were through the first 30 minutes of this movie. It starts out with a fantastic car chase and leads directly into a fantastic foot chase through Siena, Italy. However, it really goes downhill for awhile after that.
I am not blaming the director alone because they were obviously affected by the writer’s strike that happened at the time, leaving Forster and Daniel Craig to try and patch things up. Craig clearly gives it his all here, even though he doesn’t have much to work with. The middle hour of this film is a real mess and I even found the airplane sequence a bore. After Bond leaves the opera, I pretty much zone out and just wait until the final set piece, which is pretty fantastic. This is a real shame because they have a great cast here. Bringing back Jeffrey Wright as Felix seems strange because he is completely wasted here and only has one scene that has anything to do with the plot of the film. The always enjoyable Gemma Arterton pops in for a bit, but is wasted. Same with Olga Kurylenko, who is actually great here but is just given such little to do until the very end. She is also, in my opinion, the most gorgeous Bond girl. I also totally forgot that Rory Kinnear gets his start as Tanner in this film, which isn’t surprising because his part is so inconsequential. I always think he is introduced in Skyfall because he makes the most out of the short scenes he has. Mathieu Amalric is decent here as well, but just such an unimposing villain that it makes it hard to fear for Bond. He short, weak, and is simply monotone throughout the film. He presents no real threat and his “evil plan” is ridiculous.
Ultimately, this is a Jason Bourne movie where Jason Bourne tells us his name is James Bond. The action sequences are often very choppy and the story is almost non-existent. It’s not until the final five minutes of the film that I am emotionally invested in what is going on. Craig plays it to perfection and it is an effective ending to the story that began in Casino Royale. Not a lot of fun to be had past the first 30 minutes, but there is some great stuff here, especially when you consider it the 2nd half of a 4 hour Casino Royale film.