Pretty much the first scene of the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, telegraphs exactly the movie you are about to see.
The camera zooms along the brilliant blue Italian choppy waters, careening towards a rocky cliff wall with an ancient auto tunnel carved into it. Flash cuts dash the exotic scenery with the cold, sleek metallic grays of roaring sports cars. Seconds later, we are plunged into a whiplash car chase sequence inside that tunnel between Bond and nameless, faceless villains. Bond gives good chase and he prevails in a spectacular array of maneuvers, cunning and a take-no-prisoners posture. The sequence is loud, visceral and brutal in its minimalist style. And that's the Bond you have in Quantum of Solace.
Daniel Craig wowed audiences worldwide as a new kind of James Bond in Casino Royale back in 2006.. Quantum of Solace is an evolution of that Bond we met in Casino. Unlike other Bonds, Craig's Bond is less self-aware or self-critical. He's prone to be more like a bull in a china shop than the previous Bonds who were gentleman's gentleman. First in Casino and now in Quantum, Craig plays Bond as a highly skilled mercenary who may not necessarily know how to keep his violence balanced or demons in check. (You could see the change coming as early as Pierce Brosnan's Die Another Day. His last iteration of Bond was a broken prisoner-of- war who was considered unreliable and therefore ex-communicated.) Craig's blunt features add intensity to the nonstop fighting sequences throughout the film. He's always a man of action and much less a man of words. Still, the steeliness of his gaze makes you think of a Thomas Crown Affair Steve McQueen; there's a shield in the expression that draws you in, but makes you remain cautious.
Unlike in other Bond films, Quantum has a memory. It reaches back to Casino for its psychological motivations. That's not entirely a bad thing, but it is different than most Bond films. Not to worry, Quantum makes up for the cardinal sin of memory by killer action sequences. Marc Foster choreographs and edits the car chases, foot chases, hotel chases with a breathless pace that can leave your head spinning at times
Quantum delivers several of the Bond necessities, but none as much as location, location, location! The travelogue nature of Bond films has always been one of its biggest assets and this film is no different. From Italy to South America and the Caribbean, Quantum makes the most out of its locations, showing different corners that are not so familiar. The Bond villain is a delight. Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene is wonderfully devious and ruthless. Unfortunately, the script does not have him and Bond squaring off enough; more interaction between these two would have been fun. Finally, the Bond girl, Camille (Olga Kurylenko) is not a typical character. She and Bond share an understanding of vengeance. That is their connection, and it's credible if not entirely satisfactory.
flick chick rating: CATCH IT IF YOU CAN