Wow, I haven’t seen a movie in nearly forever, but I did finally go see the new Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace,” over the weekend. This one picks up shortly after the end of “Casino Royale,” where Bond is out for vengeance against the people responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd. It’s a search that takes him all over the world, from Italy to London to Bolivia, with excellent (as expected) car chases, fight scenes and explosions. What else could one want from a Bond movie?!
Well…a little bit more than that… I have a few qualms with this movie, and while it was quite good, I don’t regard it as good as the previous outing. First of all, I appreciate the use of “shaky cam,” as it gives you the feeling that you’re chasing/being chased with the main character. This is the same problem I had with “The Bourne Identity,” where the “shaky cam” was used almost exclusively, leading to closer fight scenes where you couldn’t see the action from a very good view. The later iterations of the “Bourne” series pared that down a bit and got a good mix, but in all the fight scenes where I’d like to actually see some of the action, I think they could have zoomed out a bit with the camera.
Secondly, Bond movies aren’t exactly well-known for their stories, but I thought “Casino Royale” actually had a somewhat decent one (again…for a Bond movie…). This one really seems abstract to me, where the “villain” is a bad guy, but not really bent on “world domination” or “world destruction.” He wants to make some money off third-world countries. It just doesn’t seem like he and Bond really have any connection. Like he’s “just another guy.” You could make the same “just wants to make money” claim off Le Chiffre from “Casino Royale,” but in that case, at least the money was being used to fund terrorist organizations. I guess I just wanted a bit more of a connection between the guys than simply “he is bad and I should stop him.” It doesn’t seem like there’s any anxiousness to the situation, where Bond could take him down at any time: there is no countdown clock to the end of the world.
Finally, the general story that these two movies seem to follow. Old school Bond movies are good about having a single story arc taking place in a given movie, with very little tie-in to the previous movie (at least, of any significance). “Quantum of Solace” is a direct sequel to “Casino Royale,” so theoretically, it should significantly move the story forward from where it was, as opposed to being “stand-alone” as traditional Bond movies are. This one feels like it’s more “stand-alone” than “sequel” in the way the story is set up in that it takes the lead off the previous movie reminds us of some of the questions we had at the end…and then continues on to not answer those questions. At the end of “Quantum,” we actually get the opportunity to have them answered…only to have Bond walk off into the dark, cold night without telling us. Seriously? If anything, more questions are now put on the table alongside the existing ones. If you’re going to do a true sequel, you’d better wrap up the previous story line, or at least parts of it, before you go on adding more and more questions to the pile.
That said (and those are my three qualms…while relatively big, they aren’t all _that_ important in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think), the action sequences were still top-notch, Daniel Craig still gets the award for “most beat-up looking Bond of them all,” and the ladies are as lovely as ever. A “pass” can be given on the story, but again, since when is “story” the important part of a Bond movie?
In short, “Casino Royale” is a better movie overall, but this one is still a fun ride and likely the best action movie you’ll see this holiday season.