Casino Royale was a great Bond film in many regards. It introduced Daniel Craig as the new, “darker, grittier” Bond. It was strongly character driven. The action sequences were intense, and fast paced, but done almost entirely without the aid of CG, so despite their grand scale, they were believable. But more than that, it showed us what a Bond movie could be if it stepped outside the formula. Gone was Roger Moore’s Bond, parodying the espionage genre that Connery’s Bond had helped to popularize. Gone also was Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, assaulting our sensibilities with action elements more befitting of xXx than 007. Casino Royale was a compelling, intelligent Bond film, atypical in nearly every way. This may be why I found Quantum of Solace to be such a disappointment. They established Craig as a ‘different kind of Bond’ and then proceeded to drop him back into a very standard Bond film.
Now, let me be clear, I enjoyed QoS a great deal. I do not mean to imply that it is a bad film. In fact, I would even go so far as to call it one of the better bond fims. My problem with it is that despite being a stong Bond film, it’s still just a Bond film. It brings nothing new to the table, and it is formulaic to almost the point of cliche.
The plot picks up 20 minutes after the end of Casino Royale, with bond evading his persuers, and bringing Mr. White before M for interrogation. Mr. white informs them that there is a secret organization pulling the strings of international crime, an organization that MI6 knows nothing about. Bond sets off to get revenge on the members of this organization for Vesper’s death, and in the process, stumbles on to a plot by one of them to arrange a military coup. Along the way, he meets women, drives cars, boats, and planes, attends parties, and kills badguys.
Taken as the second half of Casino Royale, the film makes sense. And, I get why they did it. It’s the perfect conclusion to Casino Royale within the established bond universe. This movie was all about linking Casino Royale’s Bond with the hardened, womanizing Bond we’ve always known him to be. It’s about taking him from being a three dimensional, emotive character, and making him two dimensional carachture. It’s about establishing the beginning of Bond’s adventures. And it performs this role admirably. Craig’s Bond fits beautifully within the classic formula. Thinking back on it though, I kind of wish they hadn’t gone this route. It’s the easy way out. Taken as one film, QoS is a very generic Bond movie. It holds a place with Dr. No, The Living Daylights, and You Only Live Twice as what we might expect from a typical Bond film, but fails to acheive the hights of Goldeneye, Thunderball, or Casino Royale.
It’s a good film, and I vehemently encourage everyone to go see it. It’s a lot of fun, and there’s a lot there for bond fans. The action is still top notch (although there was more CG than I was happy with), the story is well constructed and believable, and the characters interesting. It’s just a shame that despite the cast and crew’s attemts to distance themselves from the catchphrase, they made a film that is very much “Bond, James Bond.”