QUANTUM OF SOLACE
In describing Daniel Craig in this latest 007 offering, I cannot help but remark, “This ain’t your daddy’s Bond.” Which is exactly the reason I’ve come to love the current Bond films — Craig is so very different, so modern in his take on the British agent, and yet he retains the core of Bond in his relationships and his humanity. In Quantum of Solace, I’ve never liked James Bond or Daniel Craig more.
Quantum begins with an insane car chase, which is quickly followed by a tunnel-to-rooftop-to-staircase foot chase. As if this wasn’t enough, the film also features a speedboat chase and later, an airplane chase. All involving much gunfire and much explosion. And yet, with so much happening and so many types of chases, the movie never seems to fall to the ridiculous. In fact, after a while there are just enough moments in between the high octane chases to allow you to breathe and get a sense of the story at play. Perhaps to emphasize this very thing, the director included one of the most beautiful scenes in recent memory by staging gunplay and hand-to-hand combat to the building crescendo of an opera performance. It is not until the very last moments that you even begin to hear the gunfire, making the entire scene like a silent film. It’s exquisite, and it is this very scene that elevates Quantum beyond its action pedigree.
Still, the film is an action film. It is action in the style of the Bourne saga, which is probably the reason I loved it so much. Aside from this, what makes Quantum such a great film is Daniel Craig. He’s not the suave and smooth Bond of history. He’s surly and irreverent and unapologetic, a man trying to do his “job” in the midst of overwhelming pain at the betrayal and loss of a lover (Vesper from Casino Royale). But this particular Bond is appealing to me in a way no previous incarnation has been. This is my kind of hero. And I have no interest in preserving a Bond legacy that is no longer relevant. Craig has made Bond relevant again, and I will continue to take this ride for as long as he continues.
There are characters and moments that fit with the Bond legacy — although none of the “villains” are very villainous — but the joy for me was seeing a new kind of “Bond girl” in Olga Kurylenko. She’s not the 60s sexpot, despite her great beauty, and she’s not intended to be the pretty face who falls in next to Bond. Instead, she’s a pivotal character in the story and is practically Bond’s equal in every sense. I loved that she was in the midst of all the action without being a damsel in distress. (Although there is one moment near the end where the story threatened to fall into that trap, but a clear reasoning was given that didn’t seem out of place.) I do hope future Bond girls are made on the model of Kurylenko, allowing yet another modern element to update the 007 model. It is this that will take James Bond far into the 21st century while still hearkening back to Ian Fleming’s roots. And it is this that will finally create a Bond fan out of me.
image from Rotten Tomatoes