Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Quantum of Solace (2008) ***

It’s nice to know there are some things in this world you can count on. The James Bond formula is one of them. Start with the opening credits over some lame, mildly titillating graphics, then kick the movie off immediately with an action sequence. Then Bond reports to M for some gentle scolding about “crossing the line,” and we’re off on another disposable adventure with Agent 007 and some nifty gadgets. It took me a while to get around to this latest (and so far last) installment, but there’s really no urgency to this sort of thing. It isn’t like people I know are going to be talking about the movie and ruin the plot for me!

Truth is, it’s a waste of time to summarize the plot of a Bond film. Suffice to say that Daniel Craig is once again ruggedly handsome and sufficiently deadly as 007. I really do like his hard-edged take on Bond, and I hope he will get to do a couple more of the films. The action in “Quantum of Solace” is pretty much standard-issue Bond. There’s a car chase, boat chase, plane chase, you get the picture. They don’t waste a lot of time on fancy gadgets in this one, which is refreshing. Bond just relies on his wits, his gun, his fists, and his cellphone. For Bond girls this go-round we get Gemma Arterton, who is rather uninspiring as Strawberry Fields, although she does meet her end in a very nice homage to an earlier Bond film. Fortunately, the main Bond-babe is the amazing-looking Olga Kurylenko, who tints her skin to play a part-Latina assassin.

One disappointment about the modern-day Bond movies is the lack of memorable villains. From the Timothy Dalton movies on, I can’t name or describe a single bad guy. I generally just recall a bunch of vaguely greasy characters involved in things like terrorism, environmental degradation, or global corporate conspiracies. Yawn. Give me a one-eyed guy with a cat any day. Even better, give me Goldfinger, the best Bond villain ever.

For a while it looked like financial problems at MGM might make this the last Bond movie, at least for a while. Fortunately, a deal with Sony has resurrected the series, with the next movie release planned for 2012. Will they finally create a villain half as interesting as Daniel Craig’s Bond? We should be so lucky.

3 stars.