Quantum of Solace

The title sounds like it belongs to a sci-fi film, doesn't it? It's the title of an actual Ian Fleming short story featuring Bond, James Bond, but it isn't really a spy story. That's okay, though, because the movie has nothing to do with the story; they just used the title. It means "a precise figure defining the comfort/humanity/fellow feeling required between any pair of people for love to survive. If the Quantum of Solace is 0, then love is dead."

And love is dead. Bond has lost yet another girlfriend, in Casino Royale (The one time I don't bother watching the film before because Bond movies never connect, they make them connect. I need to find someone to complain to.), Vesper Lynd, and now he wants revenge. Again. They make a big deal about how she was really "the one", but like M says, I've heard that before. He just always needs to be taking revenge, because that's his thing.

Anyway, it was a touch confusing for me because of that, but Bond movies nearly always throw you into the middle of the action without much warning anyway, and they did okay at explaining everything you need to know. They make the title fit a little by retroactively naming the criminal organization from Casino Royale Quantum and giving them a little stylized Q logo that makes me wish for the real Q to show up. But he doesn't, and there's no Moneypenny, either. *sigh* Thank goodness Judi Dench is still around.

What you get is all the usual Bond stuff -- mostly. There's car chases, boat chases, explosions (hint: if Bond is around and you hear someone mention 'unstable fuel cells', start running immediately), glamorous parties, beautiful women, and villains so villainous that you can just see them oozing, um, villainy. That's sort of comforting about the Bond films, actually -- you may have a few betrayals here and there, but the really big bad guys are just bad. They never switch sides.

Bond Girl #1 is Camille, who doesn't get a last name. She's played by a Ukranian actress (Olga Kurylenko) who speaks three languages, but Spanish isn't one of them, so of course they make her Bolivian here. She was the sister of the woman with the giant gun in Max Payne, but we won't hold that against her. Since she wants revenge against a South American ex-dictator who wants his old job back and is working with Quantum to make that happen; and James wants revenge against -- well, maybe everyone by now, but Quantum will do -- they get thrown together as semi-reluctant partners.

Quantum, personified by big bad guy Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), is trying to corner the market on the earth's most vital resource, using a global eco-charity called Greene Planet to hide behind, and a more obvious sign of megalomania would be hard to find. He has some justification for that, though, since he literally makes or breaks governments, it seems, even though he sort of looks like an accountant trying a little too hard to be cool. But Bond finds him a fitting target for his vengeance, and that's all we need here.

Three and a quarter idols here. I still miss Pierce Brosnan, but Daniel Craig is managing to make the role his own, even though he's no longer quite the James Bond we once knew. Which is kind of a shame, but even icons have to move with the times, I suppose. Unfortunately, he keeps doing the same purse-your-lips-to-show-you're-serious thing that Dennis Quaid does, and they both need to stop that. I think a support group is in order.

Originally posted 11/2008. Skyfall will be out soon, and let me say that I hope Judi Dench will get to do some really cool stuff.

Image: 
Bond and Camille trek across the desert. Revenge is a dish best served... sandy.

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