My review of Quantum of Solace appears in this week's WE.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
By Andrea Warner
2 stars (out of 5; 3 stars if you've seen Casino Royale)
Casino Royale revitalized the James Bond franchise by fusing ass-kicking action with art-house grace, and its increasingly troubled legacy was reborn!
Or so we thought. Quantum of Solace suffers a severe case of Second Child Syndrome, with several lacklustre action sequences, a preposterous plot, and an arrogant presumption by its writers that audiences would carry the emotional baggage from Royale forward.
Quantum opens moments after Royale ends, with Bond (a steely Daniel Craig) desperate to avenge the death of his lady love, Vesper Lynd. He’s pulled in to help uncover the identity of a top-secret group — comprised of the world’s political, financial, and morally compromised elite — that has infiltrated MI6. Bond’s nemesis is the power-crazed Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric, his eyeball-driven acting chewing the scenery), who wants to control the world’s water supply. At Bond’s side is wounded beauty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), also consumed by revenge.
It’s a convoluted mess of a story that fails to resonate in any meaningful way, and not just because the audience is expected to harken back to Royale every 20 minutes. Greene is never adequately established as a chilling villain or credible foil for Bond, Camille’s backstory is predictable, and the chemistry between Kurylenko and Craig barely quickens the pulse.
The one truly awesome sequence juxtaposes scenes from Puccini’s Tosca amidst the unravelling of the secret society’s key players. It’s beautifully shot, and showcases Bond’s brains and balls over his brawn. The cinematography is innovative and clever, but it’s the only moment in the film that manages to rise above its infinitely superior predecessor.
Scarcely shaken, never stirred, there’s only minor solace to be found here.