A worthy new villain makes his debut.
The title “Quantum of Solace” is the essence of the latest James Bond movie. Bond (Daniel Craig) and Camille (Olga Kurylenko) are united in their quest for vengeance for a great sadness each has experienced. Bond must find the killer of the woman he loved; Camille must find the killer of her father. Being a Bond movie, this quest does not mean bringing the killers to justice; it means death to the murderers at the hands of the aggrieved. Only then will a measure of solace be conferred on Bond and Camille. That’s about as much plot as you will find here, and it’s about all we can possibly absorb, given the circumstances.
The circumstances include chase by car, boat, plane, motorcycle, and foot. They include also a spectacular aerial freefall and multiple fireballs including one of such significance that it has forced me to abandon my dream of driving a hydrogen fuel cell car. One new twist: collisions – of boats, cars, and planes at high speeds through showers of bullets. Forgive me if I think longingly of Sean Connery floating gently – was it in a balloon? – to the ocean below with a martini in his hand.
Daniel Craig is a fine MI 6 agent. He is not debonair or light hearted or witty, but he is strong and physical and determined. As Camille, Olga Kurylenko is a special Bond girl by any definition. Beautiful, edgy, and more than up to presenting herself as an action heroine, she is a knockout in her brown pants, white shirt and weaponry against the desert sand. Revenge, it turns out, is an even more powerful drive than sex for 007 and his partner. Watch for an uncharacteristic moment of Bondian tenderness when they are about to die in the hydrogen explosion. Olga just may be the one who is invited back for the next installment.
Another nice touch is the expanded boss/agent relationship between “M” (Judi Dench) and Bond. Since real life technology has eclipsed anything that can be thought up for the screen, the attention is returning – a little bit – to human relationships. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench draw our attention by the sheer force of their personal magnetism. Without a smile, or for that matter any change in expression, both convey in words alone their respect for each other. In a movie full of hostility, the absence of malice and presence of trust in their relationship is a powerful story anchor.
To balance the abundant good will connecting Bond with Kurylenko and Dench, a worthy new villain makes his debut. You will detest Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) on sight. This slithery creature is given no such hideous tools as Odd Job’s razored hat, nothing in fact, except an uncanny sneer that is the perfect vehicle for delivering his contempt for the world. That’s more than enough. Three good guys and viper - what more can we ask?
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