Quantum of Solace: The Best Bond Film of My Lifetime
It’s not perfect. The opening car chase unwisely chooses Bourne-Identity-like shaky camerawork and quick editing, leaving it incomprehensible. The villain’s plot doesn’t seem very sweeping, and the love interest… well, she isn’t a love interest at all. Finally, there’s not a single moment in this film as thrilling as the opening chase from Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale.
However, it is not only thrilling, fast-paced, funny, and fresh, but it is the closest to the original James Bond as Ian Fleming intended him that we’ve seen since… well, Sean Connery. My idol, Roger Ebert, got it totally wrong in his recent review when he said, “James Bond is not an action hero! He is too good for that. He is an attitude. Violence for him is an annoyance.” I understand that Ebert is merely going off of the films, but in the books, this is how Fleming intended Bond to be. Read this profile of Fleming’s Bond if you’re interested, and see the uncanny resemblance in Craig’s hardheaded blunt object of a secret agent, craving destruction, violence, insurmountable odds, and hard revenge against those who took from him the closest thing he ever had to love.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Casino Royale, despite being impressed by the reinvigoration of the franchise and the performance of the lead, Daniel Craig, as a fantastic Bond. The length of the film made it drag, as did the poorly written love story. James Bond shouldn’t be spending so much time sitting on a beach, talking about love, contemplating leaving it all behind for this woman. That does not seem in character to me—there’s no challenge in complacency for Bond, so why should he settle? Combine that with the overextended card scenes, and it was a good first step with a fantastic opener, but nothing more.
Now, we get to Quantum of Solace, which really is nothing more than Casino Royale Part Two. Now, the boring scenes and out-of-character elements pay off with a nonstop film of anger, coolness, and revenge, clocking in at under two hours and barely giving you time to breathe. Craig plays Bond with just the right amount of humor amidst stressful and angry situations. He also maintains his class throughout all this, which is another confusing comment in Ebert’s review, “James has become a regular bloke who orders lager.” Actually, he order a shaken martini, wears a tux over half the time, and refuses to stay in a rundown hotel, opting for a more conspicuous but more classy luxury suite instead. Critics have also decried that Bond doesn’t sleep with the main girl—well, he manages to sleep with one girl while pursuing revenge of his true love’s death, just how many women must he bed before we are satisfied?
Wasn’t the old system broken though? When was the last truly great James Bond movie? Better yet, when was the last time any Bond since Connery had managed to make TWO truly great Bond movies? Quantum of Solace didn’t reek of effort to top the previous one—it manages to seamlessly build on top of what the predecessor had created. Better yet, the end hints that this storyline is not over, and they will continue to build. The stunt work is extraordinary, as we see Craig get bruised and battered and keep going, and there’s no doubt that it’s actually our hero and no stuntman. Director Marc Forster goes to great lengths to let us know that for the majority of this film, Craig truly IS Bond.
My final comment is for those saying this Bond film is too much like a Bourne film—outside of the opening sequence, we have a character with more humor, more emotion, and more bravery than Bourne. Let’s face it, the reason why Bourne is so interesting is because he looks like an average joe, but in actuality is a killer spy who will snap your neck with no hesitation. The reason why Bond is so interesting is because you know he could snap your neck from the moment you see him, but he’s so cool and charming that you look past his danger and flaws and admire him. This Bond isn’t going to rely on preposterous gadgets and invisible cars to win the day—he’s going to run himself into the action headfirst like a battering ram. His loyalty to those close to him and his loyalty to his country is so overwhelming that with each growing moment you think, “Bond can’t be THAT crazy… can he?” But he is. That’s what I love about Bond. That’s why this is the greatest Bond film of my lifetime.
P.S.: The theme song, written by Jack White of The White Stripes and performed by White and Alicia Keys, is also the best Bong song since Live and Let Die, and the opening credits sequence is bewitching.