Daniel Craig returns as Bond as the movie picks up just minutes after the ending of Casino, a first for the series. We enter the story in the middle of a frenetic and violent car chase as Bond brings in Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), the lead he had captured at the end of the last film, for questioning. Bond is seeking answers regarding his Casino love interest Vesper Lynd, who was blackmailed into betraying him to save her boyfriend. With M (Judi Dench) keeping close watch, concerned that Bond’s desire for revenge will overshadow his duty, he follows a series of leads that takes him to business mogul Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and the mysterious organization Quantum that seems to have eyes around every corner. Allying himself with a mysterious woman named Camille (Olga Kurylenko) and his old contact Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), he seeks to uncover the truth about Vesper while delving into an organization that threatens the stability of England and the rest of the world.
Once again, Craig hits it out of the park as 007. A character that had descended into caricature over the course of 20 (entertaining in their own right) films is once again explored in much the way Ian Fleming wrote him almost 50 years ago – a coldly efficient killer with a duty to country and strange allure. Craig brilliantly portrays a Bond broken by lost love but channeling the devastation into a brutal rage contained behind an almost robotic exterior. Quantum completes the origin story begun in Casino Royale, and by the time the credits roll we have a sense of who this Bond is and what makes him tick. The movie is also successful as an action film – it’s brief 100 minute running time is loaded with near constant action, expertly staged and frantically shot. Director Marc Forster, more well known for art-house fare such as Finding Neverland and Monster’s Ball, proves a capable captain at the helm of the ship, keeping the movie tightly focused and never boring. The supporting cast is good, especially the holdovers from the previous film such as Giannini and Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter. Amalric is good, but Greene lacks the interest and magnetism of Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre. Similarly, Kurylenko’s Camille is a strong, if underexplored, character, but she can’t hold a candle to Eva Green’s Vesper. She’s not supposed to – after all, despite the presence of two Bond girls (Gemma Arterton joins the cast as a British support agent), Vesper is in a way the strongest female presence in the film, despite never appearing onscreen. That, perhaps, is the best indication I can give as to what to expect from Quantum. The film functions as an entertaining though unspectacular epilogue to Casino Royale, not the groundbreaking success that film was (how could it be?) but a great addition to the new Bond canon nonetheless. It will be interesting to see how the franchise breaks into new territory in the next outing. Until then, Bond fans, go in with the right expectations, and you’ll enjoy this one immensely. - ***1/2 (out of 4)
Quantum of Solace is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.