Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko, who were both in T.O. for interviews, are lost without a decent script.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE directed by Marc Forster, written by Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis, with Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko and Mathieu Amalric. An MGM Columbia release. 109 minutes. Opens Friday (November 14). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Writing a bad review can be quite satisfying. It's a chance to tear a strip off the actors, directors, screenwriters, editors, producers and studio execu-twits who took two hours of my life. But there's not even a quantum of solace in saying Quantum Of Solace is subpar James Bond.
It's not Octopussy bad - parts of Quantum are as thrilling as any in the 22-film franchise - but it's a huge disappointment, especially after Casino Royale renewed 007's licence to thrill.
Bond has been reborn in Daniel Craig, easily the finest actor ever on Her Majesty's Secret Service. He's an even better (heresy!) Bond than Connery, and certainly more in line with what Ian Fleming had in mind.
Bluntly handsome, with ice for eyes, Craig's 007 is a cool, cruel killer who gulps his martinis between gunfights. And he actually breaks a sweat while doing it, something Bond hasn't done since he had a laser beam aimed at his PPK. When it comes to conveying bottled rage (and then unleashing it), nobody does it better. He, along with Judi Dench's exquisite M, are Quantum's only solace.
Bond has also been reBourne with leg-snapping lethality: rooftop foot chases, fender-shredding car chases and hull-smashing boat chases that would leave Matt Damon shaken.
I, however, remained unstirred.
The plot is thin and as perplexing as the title. Bond, out to avenge the death of Casino Royale femme fatale Vesper Lynd, crosses the path of an evil environmentalist named Greene (a wormy Mathieu Amalric). Greene works for a SPECTRE-like crime syndicate called Quantum (a weak attempt to make some sense of Fleming's title), whose master plan involves destabilizing a South American regime to install a dodgy dictator and take control of the world's largest source of fresh water.
The pacing is fractured like so many bones, the villain unthreatening and uncharacteristically dull, and the whole thing feels more like a slapdash addendum to Casino Royale than a fully realized film. No surprise that the script wasn't finished before filming started.
Ultimately, Quantum's biggest failure is that it tries too hard to distance itself from traditional Bond movies.
Bond has always been a fantasy - guns, gadgets and girls. So bring back Moneypenny, I say, and Q and wristwatch flame-throwers and submersible cars with ejector seats and top-secret volcano bases and truly diabolical villains hell-bent on world domination.
I'm not suggesting Moonraker-levels of camp, but a little Goldfinger would've gone a long way toward helping this very dry martini go down.