Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This particular James Bond needs a hug.  For real.  In the 22nd instance of the MI6 super spy, Daniel Craig presses his tuxedo for the 2nd time following ‘Casino Royale’ in the much more action packed, though in my opinion not a better film, with ‘Quantum of Solace’.  This isn’t to say that ‘Quantum of Solace’ isn’t a hell of a entertaining thrill ride, because director Marc Forster didn’t scrimp on the action one little bit, but I honestly thought that Martin Campbell’s ‘Casino Royale’ was GREAT movie while ‘Solace’ is simply a good one.  Personally I can live with simply being good.  And it is good, nobody what anybody else wants to say about it.

Our film opens in traditional spectacular bond style with Ian Fleming’s super spy cruising at high speeds in an Aston Martin DBS down some busy Italian streets whilst being fired upon by a team baddies pushing Alfa Romeo’s.  We don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that the future of those who wish to do Bond harm isn’t very bright as these dudes are now burning to death in a ditch somewhere while Bond drives his newly beat up $265,000 car in to the shop to drop off the package that he picked up in the last movie, and deliver it to his perpetually angry mother figure / Boss M (Judi Dench).

What MI6 has learned is that they are dealing with a super secret organization that they didn’t even know existed until a few moments ago, who controls freaking everything.  Including sections of the CIA and MI6.  What M needs to know is exactly who these cats are and what they are up to, though she is a bit hesitant to dispatch James to handle this gig because Mr. Bond is still smarting from the death of his true love Vespa from the last film, with M fearing that James might be after the wrong things and could use clouded judgment.  Allow me to ease Boss Ladies fear as THIS James Bond uses absolutely NO judgment in regards to anything.

Anyways, with his Platinum Visa in hand James is off around the world to do his Bond thing which runs him into industrial Tycoon Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) who is up to all kinds of no good, and his girl Bolivian Bombshell Camille Montes (played by Ukrainian super hottie Olga Kurylenko), who is also working on an alternative agenda and will serve as our deluxe Bond Girl of choice for this episode. We get a few return suspects from ‘Casino Royale’ such as CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and suspected traitor Mister Mathis (Giancarlo Esposito) but despite all the conspiracy issues, double dealings, back stabbings and misdirection that are in this film, all that is really required of you is to sit back and watch James run and shoot and drive and fly and boat and kill his way across the world in an effort to find the dude he thinks is responsible for the death of his true love. Nothing more is required.

Since I’m not what you would call a ‘Bond Purist’ I had no problems with ‘Quantum of Solace’ and found it quite entertaining. However I saw the film with a group of people, some of whom do consider themselves purist of the sort and they had problems with Mr. Craig and his portrayal of James Bond and a lot of those concerns are valid. This James Bond isn’t exactly the smoothest cat in the world, and quite honestly he’s really not all that bright either. He will kick your ass, that’s for damn sure – I mean this dude will beat you up and kill you for looking at him cross-eyed, but he’s not someone I would label a ‘Superspy’. Hardly. This James Bond doesn’t drink shaken Martini’s because they taste good, he drinks them to deaden his emotional pain. And I sure hope you didn’t want to talk to that potential witness because unless my this witness can hold a discussion with a knife sticking out of his carotid, he’s going to have little to say.

So recognizing that this iteration of Bond obviously wasn’t breast fed as a child and has some serious anger issues, may I point out this Bond is a ‘new’ Double Zero and is just beginning his Super Spy career and as such is a little rough around the edges, which I think should be expected. This being the case, what we’re left here is a movie heavy on action, all which is executed superbly, and we have a character who reacts as opposed to contemplates and to that end Daniel Craig does a fine job with both the physical nature of the Bond character and the psychological aspects of whatever is messing with our hero’s mind. And as always Dame Judi Dench brings a touch a class and sophistication to any role she assumes, even one where she is required to be the ringmaster to James Bond’s high wire circus act.

One little issue before we sign off. James Bond is like the baddest mofo on the Planet Earth. For real. This man can take out an elevator full of MI5’s with his hands tied behind back and knock out a team heavily armed American Commando’s armed with only a garden gnome. So we question why the final fiery spectacular fight sequence with a character who we will generously label a wimpy French version of Poindexter took so damn long. I know we need a spectacular sequence to close out the show and all but Oddjob this cat was not. What was up with that?

Regardless, ‘Quantum of Solace’ was Grade A entertainment pretty much from start to finish from where I was sitting. Was it a great Bond film? Probably not, but we still appreciate the lack of death rays pointed at the moon and cars rigged to turn into submarines. Remember though, this James Bond is learning on the job. I’m sure in the next few installments he will transform into the smooth, lady killing, special gadget possessing Double Zero we all used to know.  Or not.  It's doubtful.

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