When the James Bond franchise was rebooted in 2006 with Casino Royale, the main thing it had going for it was its fresh take on the series. It was more serious, and told more of a “man on a mission” story than before. It also featured great action sequences and one of the most human-like James Bond portrayal ever. It felt new, and this is one of the main reasons it was such a success.
With Quantum of Solace, it doesn’t have that freshness factor working in its favor. We’ve now met Bond (Daniel Craig), and we know what to expect from the rebooted franchise. It’ll be gritty, it won’t feature crazy, over-the-top action sequences, and it will attempt to hit a deep emotional core in its audience. While Quantum of Solace does do all of this, it just doesn’t do it as well as its predecessor did.
It’s too bad that it had to follow-up Casino Royale, because if it didn’t have that, and the Bond series name attached to it, it would be a very good action film. You can’t look at it in that light, however, because it is a sequel. A direct sequel, no less, Quantum of Solace directly follows the events of Casino Royale. After Vesper had her life ended in the previous film, Bond is hell-bent on avenging her death. We saw a bit of this in the last film, with Bond finishing the film off hunting down Mr. White.
We begin Quantum of Solace with White captured, and Bond driving like a madman trying to get him back to M16 headquarters. There, he is interrogated by M (Judi Dench, who assumes a bigger role in this film), and we learn that there is a secret organization out there, one that M16 knows next to nothing about. “We have people everywhere”, White says, before M’s personal bodyguard turns on the organization. In an attempt to duplicate the amazing chase scene that began Casino Royale, M’s bodyguard flees and Bond has to chase him.
This turns out to be largely unimportant, except to tell us that there is indeed an evil organization out there, but serves as a good way to kick off the film. The main story focuses on Bond going after Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a leader of an organization that has some plans to disrupt the way natural resources are distributed in Bolivia. The organization is called Quantum, and is also the one responsible for having Vesper killed.
Along the way, Bond meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who also wants to get to Greene. She doesn’t have much beef with him personally, but instead wants to kill the man that he is dealing with. We learn that the man murdered her family and left her with burn marks when she was just a child. We also learn this far too late in the film for it to make much difference. That is why I am telling it to you now.
One of the key changes made in Casino Royale was the emotional backdrop of its characters. They made the audience care for them, and made it quite clear why we should. In Quantum of Solace, we get that with Bond, but Camille doesn’t come across as anything other than a self-centered character, one not deserving of our sympathy. Knowing why she is this way gives a better understanding of her condition, which is why I feel no guilt in revealing this revelation into her character.
Unfortunately, a key component missing from Quantum of Solace was the tension that was present in the first film. In Casino Royale, everything was suspenseful. From the action scenes to the poker game, you were always on the edge of your seat. In Quantum of Solace, this doesn’t happen. There are a couple of action scenes where your heart will be pounding, for the most part, they won’t have any doubt that the characters will pull through.
The film is loaded with action scenes, although they too fail to create the same amount of entertainment as they did in the previous film. This might be attributed to director Marc Forster (Stay, Stranger than Fiction), a director who isn’t well-known for capturing exciting action scenes. They aren’t bad by any means, but they failed to entertain like the ones in Casino Royale did. They aren’t terribly inventive, and they don’t feel all that realistic.
Quantum of Solace isn’t as good as Casino Royale, but it certainly isn’t bad. None of the elements involved are as good as they were in the previous Bond installment, but they add up to something that is still, for the most part, entertaining. While the action scenes lack tension, the characters have enough emotional depth to make you care for them. It’s a mixed bag, for sure, but is still an action film that is enjoyable.