In the storied history of the James Bond films, revenge is an oft visited theme. Bond (ostensibly) chases after his wife’s killers in ‘Diamonds are Forever.’ After serving as best man to Felix Leiter, both Leiter and his wife are torn asunder, leaving Bond to renounce Her Majesty’s secret service and seek repayment in ‘License to Kill.’ Even the first film in the series has Bond searching for the killer of one of his co-workers. The latest addition to the cannon ‘Quantum of Solace’ continues this tradition. However, with this latest outing, the revenge is not just something to drape the story around. With the arrival of Daniel Craig as the newest Bond, so also marks the arrival of a Bond more in touch with his feelings. This Bond can get hurt. This Bond can cry.
With an introduction like that, one would fear that ‘Quantum’ would be a film that culminates in a large group hug. Thankfully, the filmmakers and producers don’t get to that level of feelings.
‘Quantum’ opens roughly an hour after the last film ‘Casino Royale,’ ends, making this the first true sequel in the franchise. Bond is feeling a rash of emotions following the betrayal and subsequent death of Vesper Lynd. He sets out to find what sort of organization would do such a thing to such a lovely girl. What follows is mayhem. One must remember that ‘Casino’ is supposed to be Bond’s first mission. In fact, it opens with his receiving his double-0 number. Part of what made ‘Casino’ so fun was the way one got to see Bond become who he would be. (That is, the guy who would bed the girl painted in gold, or the one who would float into outer space to chase a giant with a cheese grater for teeth.) So, ‘Solace’ features something that ‘Casino’ also featured: Bond screwing up. His emotions are constantly overtaking his sensible side, leaving a body count behind him.
The film is directed by Marc Forester, clearly, one of the most respected filmmakers to take on the Bond legend, second only, perhaps to ‘The World Is Not Enough’’s Michael Apted. It is his job to get the emotion right. The action will be left to somebody else. And so it is. The film is mostly about action, leaving the viewer who wonders about such things, how much did Forester really do? No matter who was behind the camera, the action is top notch. Some of the sequences are Bourne-esque, but so be it. The Paul Greengrass-led films have paved the way for so many others, why not Bond? Is the plot confusing and a bit overwrought at times? Well, of course. Now is not the time to claim that Bond is unbelievable. That train left the station several decades ago.
In short- was it a good movie? Yes. It adheres enough to the Bond traditions that loyalists, such as myself, should be pleased. For the novices out there, (if there are such things,) might I recommend a viewing of ‘Casino Royale,’ before buying your ticket. That said, the ride, no matter how confusing, is wonderful. Exciting. Visually interesting. Well acted. In short, a fine night out at the movies. -Sam