Quantum of Solace, the latest installment in the James Bond saga, the second starring Daniel Craig, has to carry a lot of water. It has to tie up many loose ends left over from 2006's Casino Royale, a tangled web of betrayals, psychic scars, explosions, and what appeared to be the better part of Venice foundering like the Titanic. It had to keep the new, edgier Bond going strong and speaking to a world where adult super-hero movies (including actual dark adult comic book heroes) are competing with MI6's finest (something Sir Sean Connery never had to face). Most importantly, it had to clear the decks so that a fresh, new Bond film can take place after this one. Maybe they'll resurrect Thunderball?
Here's the good news: Whatever they decide to do, all systems are go. Bond is back on his feet. Here's the better news: Despite what is arguably the worst title for anything ever created in any medium, Quantum of Solace is a good, possibly even a very good, movie (possibly even film!).
The script is creaky, the chases are too many, too fast, but the style, the music, the toughness -- these carry the day. The thing is just so breathlessly and stylishly paced, it owes more to the operatic set piece in the middle than a traditional thriller. A guest of mine -- one of my son's to be precise, the one that's not a no-fault Bond fan -- griped that the opera scene was a rip of The Godfather. I told him it wasn't a rip, it was an homage. He didn't buy it, but I do. It was just too cool. Instead of just opera combined with violence, it was an opera performance featuring violence.
The whole affair, in fact, is a paean to violence, in a way. It explores a very small but nevertheless gnarly problem: revenge. It doesn't answer it. It just uses it to provide the engine that drives the script. Enough.
If anything [WARNING: PRETENTIOUSNESS ALERT!!!] it owes more to Godard's Contempt than any other film I can think of. It's a celebration of Hollywood, guns, and of course tuxes. With a little opera and geopolitics thrown in. As for the "dark" Bond, bring it on, I say. Actually, Connery was kind of dark to me as well. I like Craig as Bond because, like Connery, he's so game. While he doesn't play it with a wink, he knows it's a movie and he's a movie star. And there's a lot of range there.
I am glad Bond has been rescued. The minute the movie ended I couldn't stop thinking, "I wonder what the next one's gonna be?" Mission accomplished. - Ken Krimstein
Mr. Krimstein is a writer, cartoonist, father, and grump who lives in New York City. And he gets to travel on occasion, too. So there.