Quantum of Solace

Bond. James Bond.

I’m still a big fan of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, but the new take on the series is not without its problems.

This is the first time a Bond movie has done an honest to God sequel, starting minutes from where the last movie, Casino Royale, left off. This seems like a mistake. Bond movies just aren’t the kind of shows you commit to memory. I found myself grappling with vague memoires of minor characters from the last show, introduced into this movie with no preamble. Both plots are incomprehensible. Worse, the action scenes are edited in a way that makes them difficult to understand. The opening car chase is a wreck (literally and figuratively). There is a boat chase that is resolved as if by magic. There is a shot of a grappling hook lying in the bottom of Bond’s boat. Bond grabs for it, but we can’t see what he does with it. Next thing you know, the bad guy’s boat flips into the air, dumping everyone into the water. In the old movies, Bond might have found an inventive and unexpected way to use some gadget given him by Q to escape the bad guys and we would have been impressed with his resourcefulness. Here we can only imagine the director couldn’t come up with a better way to resolve the action. It just seems sloppy.

Bond is all new and more ferocious than ever, but sometimes the old Bond seems to rear his head. Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), a beautiful MI6 field operative, is sent to bring Bond home, but he seduces her and runs up her expense account in a scene worthy of Roger Moore’s Bond.

The villain in this movie, like most Bond movies, is an evil mastermind. If this one is not bent on world domination, he at least has an international scheme. But it’s not the kind of evil plan you expect from a Bond movie, rather more like a thriller from something like Syriana. Maybe this is what makes the plot so incomprehensible. Why not just have a plot to blow up the moon? Whatever it is, it needs more diabolical.

Quantum of Solace is never uttered in the movie, but Quantum is the evil organization behind all the movie’s nefarious hijinks, like Get Smart’s CHAOS or the original Bond’s SPECTER. This organization seems to be a big international corporation. You have to wonder what QUANTUM might stand for or what it’s stock ticker might be (EVIL?).

You have to hope some of the rough spots of the new Bond franchise work themselves out. So far Craig’s intensity as Bond has been enough to hold it together, but how much longer can that last?

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