Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace stars the latest Bond, Daniel Craig, in plot that’s mostly incomprehensible but fabulously entertaining anyway. (©2008 Columbia Tristar Marketing Group, Inc.)

R ecipe for new Bond movies: Take one ultra-charged Secret Agent, add one scowling Babe with a mission and a Russian accent, add one Evil Bad Guy with cronies, add guns and gadgets and Dame Judi Dench. Mix at super-high speed—shaken, not stirred. Garnish with tuxedo and plot. Serves millions.

The 2006 remake of Casino Royale was the best episode ever, recharging the 007 image with an earthy, granite-not-marble Daniel Craig. The remake gave birth to a new and improved Bond franchise that made the dashing Craig a screen star, the way Sean Connery was launched by Dr. No.

Craig was a stroke of casting genius. Besides looking hot in a tux, he exudes credibility just by showing up. Rugged and thick-skinned, he is trigger-happy and unapologetic, and delivers fewer puns and innuendoes. And playing a commanding Bond is no simple task when the dialogue is almost as low of a priority as the plot, which most of us can’t follow anyway.

Not that we care. More than ever, the new Bond is all about action that’s bolder, louder, faster, intensified. And now in Craig’s second role—number 22 for the series—Quantum of Solace opens with a car chase that requires a seat belt in every theater chair. In fact, the entire film is a series of chase scenes honoring every mode of transport, including boats, planes, motorcycles, and my favorite, jumping over rooftops.

In Quantum, we find Bond seeking vengeance on the killers of his love Vesper, from the previous film. As you may recall, this romance was a desperate low point in the otherwise sterling Casino Royale, an awkward detour that trashed a legendary persona for a guy dumping his career for a relationship. But never mind. This seems to be what the awkward title is about, an obscure reference to a story from a past episode, and a phrase that quantifies onelevel of comfort, however small. And 007 is in good company: Bond girl Camille (Olga Kurylenko) is in search of her own revenge and solace. So unlike the old adventures, the new Bond characters have feelings.

How does Quantum stack up to its 21 predecessors? More captivating than some. But nothing measures up to the Casino remake. And sadly, Quantum fails to deliver nostalgia: the gadgets, the signature martinis, the “Bond, James Bond” intros, and Monty Norman’s original theme music. Nevertheless, the masterful new Bond keeps us riveted as we hang on for dear life, feeling that level of comfort in knowing there is more “Craig, Daniel Craig” in our future.  B+

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