‘Quantum of Solace’ borrows from Bourne series, finds its own in the end
Some people have argued that James Bond is not an action hero. This argument is refuted in the first sequences of “Quantum of Solace,” the newest addition to the nearly 50-year franchise.
The film is faster and more action-packed than previous Bond films, apparently drawing inspiration from the Bourne series in creating strikingly fast-paced scenes, moving so fast with its hyperactive editing that it will surely induce a headache. Even the title sequence, lacking the exceptional visuals from the Maurice Binder era, creates a headache.
Bond, shortly after the conclusion of “Casino Royale,” is beginning to investigate a far-reaching secret organization known as Quantum. His motivation is not only his duty but, more importantly, his hunt to avenge the death of his lover.
The producers seem to pride themselves on the fact that “Quantum of Solace” strides slightly away from the conventional practices of the Bond films. The barrel sequence is there, but modified slightly. A reference to a vodka martini exists, but not quite how we’re used to hearing it. No Moneypenny, no Q (and therefore no gadgets) and, in an act of possible heresy, it was decided that our character should not utter his iconic introduction of, “Bond, James Bond.” Blasphemy? Perhaps.
Bond doesn’t seem to be having quite as much fun as he used to, when he was driving around in a tank or ski diving off a snow cliff. It might be a bit sophomoric to complain about such seemingly minute things, but convention shouldn’t be punished. It would be rather satisfying if these elements were returned to normal for the next film.
The film does, however, entertain in an escapist way that few others beside James Bond can do. There is a brilliant scene at an opera in which Bond outmaneuvers the members of Quantum he is hunting.
Dominic Greene, a member of Quantum, is played by Mathieu Amalric. Amalric has spoken in interviews about being influenced by Tony Blair and Nicolas Sarkozy for his villainous portrayal, but it could be argued that he has also found his inner Peter Lorre. He is quite good at his role with a frightening smirk and a terrible temper. The geopolitics are alive and well, with enough to please the left (The bad guy is an Al Gore environmentalist.) and the right (The bad guy is exploiting the water-rights struggles of Third World nations.). There is even a clever homage to “Goldfinger,” with a hinted criticism of the addiction to our limited natural resources.
Daniel Craig continues to do a remarkable job as Bond. It is still rather puzzling that Craig would be chosen for the role because he is not quite as handsome or funny as the other Bonds, but he is just as talented and unique. His Bond is out for revenge, in need of a serious catharsis and guilted with a case of insomnia.
In defense of other Bonds, it should be noted that Timothy Dalton (who was simply ahead of his time), with his portrayal of the spy as vulnerable and resolute, and George Lazenby, with his portrayal of Bond as sympathetic and hurt, paved the way for Craig, and without them, he would not have been so well-received for his portrayal of the character as an antiheroic man of depth and torment.
“Quantum of Solace” is not the finest Bond film of the franchise, especially after the spectacular “Casino Royale.” Nonetheless, it is enjoyable enough, taking too much influence from the Bourne series in the beginning but ultimately finding its own, decades-old archetype and identity and settling comfortably into it.
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