Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: lower right
Attendance: 007 (really.)
Weather: cool, freezing rain
Food: Dr. Pepper, M&Ms, Eat-More bars
Pre-show ads: Coke, Toyota, Telus
Trailers: The Day The Earth Stood Still, Four Christmases, Yes Man, Seven Pounds
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in the 22nd official outing of the long-running spy franchise based on the novels and stories of Ian Fleming. Quantum of Solace is a sort-of-sequel to Craig’s debut, the third filmed version of Casino Royale (although the first “canonical” one for the purposes of the franchise); Bond continues to pursue the men responsible for the death of his girlfriend Vespa, uncovering a secret organization called Quantum that extends its influence around the world. As with the last film, Craig is the ultimate hard man as Bond but he also exhibits some vulnerability.
The primary villain is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), an industrialist who offers to depose a Bolivian leader for an exiled General in exchange for the rights to exploit a large stretch of desert that appears to be worthless. Bond is aided by a sexy Bolivian agent called Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who wants revenge on the General just as Bond wants revenge for Vespa.
There is an underlying theme of forgiveness in this film as Bond is regularly harangued by his handler, M (Judi Dench), for his recklessness. Bond protests that he is driven by his duty, but he also has a way of getting people killed, especially innocent women like Strawberry Fields, who is found in her hotel room after being drowned in oil. How she got to her bed without dripping oil on the floor is a mystery for the next film, perhaps.
Quantum of Solace is an entertaining enough film, well-shot by director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Stay) and well-performed by the actors, but its script has a relentless pace that does not allow much time for the more thoughtful and calculating version of Bond that we see in Casino Royale. It continues to establish the new Bond franchise that eschews the old gadgets and winks to the audience, competing directly with (and appropriating liberally from) the Jason Bourne and John Woo-influenced films that audiences expect today.
With the introduction of Quantum, the franchise also establishes a new and supposedly more realistic adversary for the forseeable future: instead of cackling supervillains developing doomsday weapons in underground lairs, politicians and businessmen conspire to trade lives for their own financial gain. What makes the new James Bond appealing in such a world is that unlike most of the people he deals with, he can be trusted. Now that this Bond has some closure, I am looking forward to seeing how he stays a step ahead of some powerful enemies.
Crowd reaction at end of movie: none.
Credit cookie?: no, but the credits do end with the usual “James Bond Will Return.”
Opening next week: Cadillac Records, Frost/Nixon, Punisher: War Zone, Nobel Son, Timecrimes
Hoping for: Punisher: War Zone, if only because the villain is played by Dominic West from The Wire.