Ok, so I was wrong. Quantum of Solace is not "the best thing ever to happen to planet Earth". In fact, it was not even as good as Casino Royale.
However, this does not at all mean that it was not incredible. Marc Forster's newest installment of the James Bond series is exploding with greatness. There are only a few things that could have made this movie stronger. There are several forces at play that pound with power, sending the movie into a place where you can forgive its mistakes, and accept it as a truly great action movie.
So, let's start at the beginning. The opening music sequence is not the greatest. Yes, it's pretty cool, but the opening to Casino Royale is so awesome that it cannot quite be followed without a serious amount of work put in. Jack White and Alicia Keys perform the new song, "Another Way To Die" here and it rocks. It's no "You Know My Name", but the lyrics reflect the theme of the movie so well that you can forgive it.
Quantum of Solace takes place about an hour after the events of Casino Royale. James Bond (Daniel Craig) has Mr. White (Jesper Christiansen) in his car, and is driving back to meet M (Judy Dench) to interrogate him. The rest of the movie has to do with Mr. White's associate - Mr. Greene (Mathieu Amalric). It turns out Mr. Greene is involved in something very dangerous, and it is up to James Bond to stop it. Sound like every other Bond movie ever?
Here's the thing: it seems as though Greene is also linked to Vesper's death. Now not only is Bond motivated by his duty, he is motivated by revenge. While the idea for this plot is great on paper, the film fails to fully deliver the story, and that is where the real issue with this movie lies.
Greene's plan is never actually explained. It is clear that he is funding some evil military leaders and helping them with coups in exchange for large territories of land. A lot of them are in the Bolivian desert, where water can be found. However, it is never clear what Greene wants. Is he actually threatening the country of Bolivia with its own water? If the country is too poor to afford all this water for themselves, what kind of idiot must Greene be to hold it ransom? He says the word "Quantum" every now and then, but it still makes very little sense.
I have absolutely no idea why this movie is called Quantum of Solace. I did read Ian Fleming's short story, "Quantum of Solace", and I know that it centers on Bond at a very boring dinner party. As you may have guessed, this movie shares nothing in common except the name. Yes, it is a cool bunch of words, but it means nothing, and it has no relation to the story. Then again, maybe it does, but the story is so poorly explained that you cannot possibly catch on to it. Does Mr. Greene work for Mr. White? Or does Mr. White work for Mr. Greene? And where does Colonel Mustard come in? What about Professor Plum?
Why then, did I say this movie is so great? It's because everything else is extremely strong. The cinematography is some of the nicest I have ever seen. Roberto Schaefer did a great job here, especially with all the colors. Forster and Schaefer really teamed up to make this one of the most beautifully shot films I have seen in quite some time. I have a personal love of slowly panning track shots, and those were abundant here.
David Arnold, who has done the score for the last couple of Bond films shines again. While this score is not nearly as impressive as its predecessor, it still emanates likeability. It was nice to hear Vesper's theme chime in on the piano every now and then, almost providing an undertone to what Bond is thinking about.
And finally, the acting. Once again, Daniel Craig proves himself to be a Bond for the history books. Though I grew up looking at Sean Connery as the epitome of James Bond, Craig is slowly starting to change my mind. He just might be the best Bond in the franchise's history. He certainly plays the most complex one. He has that look, that permeating look, where, even though he is staring at you with those stern eyes, you know what he is thinking. Though little to no muscles actually move in his face, you can tell when he is trying not to laugh... and even trying not to cry. The other thing that must be said about Daniel Craig is that he is so damn manly, it is ridiculous. He pulls off some complicated, and visually stunning (not to mention brilliantly correographed) stunts. Walking out of the theater, Patrick joked, "he makes Leonidas look like a puppy".
Olga Kurylenko is fantastic as well. There is one thing that distinguishes her from all other Bond girls, but as much as I would like to, I cannot give that away. You will have to go and see it for yourselves. With her recent role in Max Payne, and now this, it seems like Kurylenko is rising up in the business, and deservedly. And last but not least, Dominic Greene might just be one of my favorite villains. I certainly like him more than Le Chiffre. He looks at you with these wide eyes, and you know that wheels in his brain are spinning fast, and that you are likely to be in trouble very soon.
In the end, the reason that this movie works is because it serves as a bridge between the hard, stone Bond of Casino Royale, and the other 20 movies that have been made. While at the beginning I kept thinking Bond was just turning into a dick, it slowly began to make sense - he is getting colder. The colder he gets, the easier it is to leave Vesper behind, and the more emotionally detached he becomes. His coldness coalesces perfectly with his immaturity, and the two ebb and flow beautifully throughout the movie.
He also drives about twelve cars throughout.
Go and see it. You will be disappointed in the story. Maybe even more than me. But it is worth it. It has something for everyone, and while it was no Casino Royale, it did a pretty good job keeping up with it.