"Quantum of Solace" is a one-hour and forty-six-minute swish pan, except for the several realistic, long, intense and absolutely unbelievable action/chase scenes that comprise most of the running time of this latest 007 treat starring the seemingly indestructible Daniel Craig.
The swish pans come when the film actually ceases the chasings and attempts to give the viewer some story and characterization. That's when it really goes swiftly; so swiftly it's difficult to know why James Bond is doing what he's doing to whom and in what part of the world; be it Austria, Haiti, Bolivia, Italy, Spain, Russia, England or in a sleek corporate jet or old DC-3 above an ocean or unknown land mass. I'll underscore that with this declaration: If you think you've seen the best airborne dog fight scenes ever shot in some vintage movie, think again. "Quantum of Solace" has something new for you in aerial combat.
The realistic chase and kill scenes run for extended periods with staging, cinematography and editing that are likely to leave you breathless without any physical exertion on your part. The opening car chase and shoot-out might be one of the most overwhelming stretches of film action ever put in a feature-length film, which says a lot since the chase in a movie is as common as that love-in-the-bedroom scene.
The American cut of "Quantum of Solace" (number 22 in the official Bond series) has only one of those scenes and only of the PG-13 variety. Not to worry though, Commander Bond, along with being deadly, is still his frisky self. It's just that his amorous ways are less at play in this caper or at least here on the west side of the Atlantic.
Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball," 2001; "The Kite Runner," 2007) directed and the script is by Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby," 2004; "Crash," 2006; "Casino Royale," 2006; "In the Valley of Elah," 2007) and Neil Purvis ("Die Another Day," 2002; "Casino Royale," 2006). Roberto Schaefer was the cinematographer and Matt Chessé and Richard Pearson were the editors.
Coming off of "Casino Royale, " which saw Bond betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved and failed to save from drowning, 007 makes a grand attempt to not make his latest mission for M (Judi Dench) one of revenge. Connecting the dots in pursuit of Quantum, the mysterious organization that blackmailed Vesper, Bond mistakenly hooks up with a luscious South American woman named Camille (played by Olga Kurylenko). Although Camille pouts throughout "Quantum of Solace," she bides her time with a hidden agenda for not showing full frontal rage---at least, for a while.
The menacing Greene, posturing as a concerned environmentalist (get the name?), is conspiring to hijack one of the world's most precious natural resources that involves duping an exiled Latin American general called Medrano and played by Joaquín Cosio. It's General Medrano with whom the lovely Camille wishes to get even.
Anticipating the moves of Greene and his contacts in the CIA and the British government, as well as (to some degree) the venerable M, Bond characteristically smashes his way toward the truth of the natural resource scam and Quantum's ugly plan for its seizure.
Daniel Craig ("Sylvia," 2003; "Casino Royale," 2006) has complete command of Commander Bond's persona in just his second film as the British spy. In my estimation, Craig is the most nearly perfect 007. Just recall what James Bond was at the outset. Cruel, lustful, stridently anti-Communist and eager to take great personal risks for his country, in the boudoir and at the baccarat table, Bond was created in the 1953 novel, "Casino Royale" by Ian Fleming. The connection Fleming made with Bond was through the author's experience in WWII as a British Naval Intelligence officer trying to outsmart Fascism.
It's been said that James Bond (in print) was cruel and sadistic because he was determined to out-Nazi the Nazis, even though the Cold War had replaced them with Communists. So it was that 007 acquired the vicious, inhumane tendencies so well known also as traits of Adolf Hilter's SS and Gestapo.
Sans any soft edges, Craig is by far the most cruel looking, yet charismatic James Bond to date. I quickly add that Sean Connery is a close second, but Craig's looks are reminiscent of the memorable film and stage actor, Richard Burton. Craig not only has the intense gaze that I remember Burton could flash at a foe so well, but his voice sounds much like that of the late, great English star, once the husband of Elizabeth Taylor. When Richard Burton spoke, I listened.
It's clear that Craig is doing almost all, if not all, of his stunts in "Quantum of Solace." They look absolutely treacherous. I salute him. I also give my vote to Daniel Craig for being the most cocky of all the many Bonds to swashbuckle across the screen in an Aston Martin----for cockiness is decidedly important, especially when a wiry bloke holds a license to kill.
Trick or treat!