Quantum of Solace
Directed by Craig Forster
Starring Daniel Craig and Judy Dench
The rate of difficulty, one has to conclude, in making a reasonable or otherwise watchable James Bond movie inflates to price-of-bread-in-Zimbabwe dimensions when there is no Ian Fleming text as guidance.
Since 1988’s The Living Daylights marked the drying of the Fleming well, six Bond films, not counting Q.O.S, have been made. Only one of these films was a Fleming retread, 2006’s superb Casino Royale. The rest have been “original” works that have been about as useful to humanity as rabies.
These are the realities that haunted the writing team responsible for Quantum of Solace (headed by Crashes’ Paul Haggis) and you can smell the fear of the 90’s bond debacles all over this thing. First in the desire to not blow a good lead-in, that being Casino Royale, this film starts exactly were the last one left off. And the largest impediment to quality in the recent past, that being cheese-on-a-stick James Bond himself, has been replaced by a vengeful mallet played by Daniel Craig.
Complicating things is the fact that this movie is an unintentional remake of 1989’s god-awful License to Kill. (Incidentally? Coincidentally?) License to Kill was the first and worst non-Fleming bond and it damn near killed the entire franchise. Both of these installments tried hard to leave Bond’s charm and whimsy behind and, in both of these films, thirst for Revenge leads him off the reservation and out of a job with MI6, thereby, leading off to high-stakes bobbins in some South American stereotype, dictator-drug-lord scenario. And so on.
The difference here, and why Quantum of Solace actually works, is that whereas License aired out the viewer with panoramic swaths of exposition and boredom; Q.O.S has in turn left little breathing room between the rather excellent action sequences. James Bond wants revenge because his girl got offed and things explode continually for a mercifully lean ninety minutes. Everything else that happens in the movie feels incidental and I suspect if I had the time to really look at it I’d see the same old coble, but there is no time because this Bond is swift and rather spectacular. – (7/10)
Quantum of Solace is out now on video and DVD.