While I have been a fan of James Bond since I was ten years old, I have to admit that there are a number of films I haven’t seen (a number of them starring Roger Moore) and the last one I saw in a theater was Tomorrow Never Dies. A lot of that has to do with where I was in my life (at various times: low on funds, interested in other sources of entertainment, going to movies that only my kid could see) and not necessarily the quality of the films. But I had seen Casino Royale and not only loved it, but also loved Daniel Craig’s Bond from the jump.
I watched this on my Kindle over the last couple of nights, since it’s streaming on HBO Go and will knock another movie off of the Netflix DVD queue. It’s not really the best way to watch a Bond film because the grand, exotic settings and larger set pieces look much better on a bigger screen (and man, can Bond do an establishing shot of a coastline), but even on that smaller screen, the film looks gorgeous.
That’s probably as much as I can really say about this because, well, Quantum of Solace is kind of a mess. There are some great fights and chase scenes (Siena, Italy provides the setting for the patented Bond-movie “chase the villain through a large crowd” pursuit, and the nerd that I am recognized the horse race that’s depicted from an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe), but there doesn’t seem to be much of an actual plot or story.
What I could discern, by the way, is that in the grand tradition of The Karate Kid Part II, this picks up exactly where the previous movie left off, so not only is Bond driving to Siena with the guy he captured at the end of the previous film, and is still angry and upset over the betryal and death of Vesper Lynd. Pretty soon, though, M’s bodyguard winds up being a double agent, working for a secret organization called Quantum (who or what they are isn’t explained–I’m thinking a SPECTRE-type of organization) and that leads Bond to a high-profile environmentalist and CEO named Dominic Greene.
Greene is the film’s main villain and he is helping a Bolivian general in exile plan a military coup while also buying up a bunch of land in the middle of the Bolivian desert. Think Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor working alongside Dan Hedaya in Commando. Greene and Quantum’s plot is to basically control Bolivia’s water supply, and the final confrontation takes place out in that desert.
The problem is that any exposition or explanation the plot has to offer is buried by the director’s need to for action, especially some of the chase and fight scenes that go on for a long time, something that is at a premium in a movie that runs for about an hour and forty-five minutes. The film has very little room to actually breathe and could have used an extra 14 minutes to allow us to feel something for Bond and some of the other characters. I mean, Craig continues to be really good in the role and I cannot say enough good things about Judi Dench as M (especially since she’s given a lot more to do than usual), but I wouldn’t place it in the Pantheon of Bond.
That being said, if you’re making your way through the Daniel Craig movies, you’re going to have to watch it because of the way it has a much tighter continuity than, say, the Connery or Moore films. For example, I could probably skip Moonraker and if I did, it wouldn’t make a difference in the overall “story” of Bond, but if I went from Casino Royale straight to Skyfall, I can imagine that there would be a few necessary things in here that I would probably need to know about.
Continuity’s a bitch.
Neither of the other two Daniel Craig Bond movies are on my current watchlist, although I may break my own rule and add them because I am intrigued by his story and want to see how it plays out.
Watch or Skip?
Watch if you’re watching the rest of them; Skip it if you just want to watch a Bond movie.