When I reviewed Casino Royale (2006), I put it out there that Daniel Craig is my favorite James Bond. No offense to the Sean Connerys (may he rest in peace), Roger Moores (may he also rest in peace), or Pierce Brosnans of the world, but I think Daniel Craig is great. At the end of Casino Royale, when you see Bond smartly dressed in a three-piece suit with an automatic weapon on his hip, it screams everything you have ever dreamed of with the classic 007 agent. Thus, I was excited to see him in his next reprisal of Sir Ian Fleming’s famous character in Quantum of Solace (2008).
Quantum of Solace picks right up where Casino Royale leaves off. That scene I mentioned in Casino Royale that clinches Daniel Craig as James Bond for me features him tracking down the person he feels responsible for the death of his lover Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). At the start of Quantum of Solace, Bond is involved in a high speed chase through the Italian town of Siena (and my Catholic brain immediately wondered whether or not we would see a reference to St. Catherine of Siena). After he slips his pursuers, we find out that in his trunk is the same guy from the end of Casino Royale, a mysterious character known as Mr. White (Jesper Christensen). When he is brought in for interrogation in Quantum of Solace, he reveals something they had guessed at in the previous film, that there is a shadowy organization with people everywhere. One of those persons manages to spring Mr. White and almost kills Bond’s beloved boss M (Judi Dench). M sends Bond to track down more people connected to this organization, and it leads him to Haiti. A case of mistaken identity puts him in contact Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a Bolivian woman who is on the trail of a former despot from her country named General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio). He also personally murdered her family. In order to get close to him, she infiltrates the same organization Bond is investigating. This organization wants to prop up General Medrano in order to gain land concessions in Bolivia. The main person behind these deals is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), but he keeps his shady workings concealed behind a facade of ecologically friendly missions. Tailing Greene takes Bond to an opera in Austria where more people connected to this organization are revealed, and then on to Bolivia. Once there, Bond learns of a meeting between Greene and Medrano where control of the Bolivian government will be handed to the military dictator in exchange for control of a major water find under the Bolivian desert. Bond and Camille arrive in time not only to put a stop to the coup, but for Camille to get revenge on Medrano. Hence, Bond helps save the day once again.
When watching a film like Quantum of Solace, it can be easy to forget aspects of the plot. I mean, the only kind of chase missing in it is a submarine chase. Between car chases, boat chases, and plane chases, there is hardly a moment to take a breath. The one part of the film that I have yet to talk about is Bond’s desire for revenge for Vesper’s death in the previous film. M sees her best agent as being filled with “inconsolable rage” over his deceased lover. In yesterday’s review of Those Who Wish Me Dead, I talked about how emotional wounds are difficult things to recover from without Faith. As a practicing Catholic, it should not come as a surprise that I would emphasize once more how crucial it is to allow God to heal you. If not, you can become a prisoner to increasingly disordered thoughts. That was certainly how M came to view Bond, thinking that his obsession with getting even with those responsible for killing Vesper is making him act reckless. At one point, she goes so for as seeking to relieve him of his duties. What helps Bond is Camille. He sees the lengths to which she is willing to go to avenge her family as almost leading to her own death. After they survive their encounter with Medrano and Greene, Camille and Bond share a quiet moment together. She had learned some of his own past during their adventures, and she points out the prison he has made for himself of his thoughts. That is an apt metaphor for such moments in our lives. Thankfully, Jesus came to set prisoners free.
Some complained the Quantum of Solace was not a fitting follow up to its predecessor. I believe I felt the same when I first saw it in theaters. I had not seen it since, though I felt better about it watching it this time around. In sum, if you are a fan of the Bond films, it is a fine iteration in this long lasting franchise. Here is hoping that No Time To Die, when we finally get to see it, is just as good.