Quantum of Solace (2008)
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There is a saying about thrillers and crime stories that they're only ever as good as their villain. In the 22nd official James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, the bad guys come off as awkward blends of insignificant and megalomaniac, and the plot surrounding them is made knotty and overly talkative in order to keep us attracted. While that may work for a while, ultimately, Marc Forster's stylish direction and beautiful sets isn't quite enough to maintain interest throughout.
With the introduction of Daniel Craig as 007, the James Bond series has undergone another renewal. It seems such rejuvenations are deemed necessary for this franchise from time to time, and there is no doubt that the previous one – coinciding with Brosnan's introduction in GoldenEye – was successful. Compared to Brosnan, Daniel Craig brings more roughness and less elegance to the character of Bond, and the series have taken a similar turn. The realism and crispness of the action scenes are one of the areas which can be said to profit from this development. In Quantum of Solace we come so close to the fights and shoot-outs that it is distressing – these are scenes which in previous versions of Bond have been kept on a more fantastical and purely entertaining level. Now we don't laugh at Bond's unassuming superiority; we are astounded by the professionalism and coldness of his actions. The dramatic value is increased, possibly at the expense of the attractive simplicity.
What is more alarming is that this new direction threatens to remove the fun from the narrative and the aforementioned villains. The often brilliant Mathieu Amalric is here left with a common and vulgar bad boy who should be handled by a boring courthouse rather than by James Bond's vindictive and inconsiderate bloodthirst. And by his side, Joaquín Cosio as the General is just as stereotypical as one could fear, leaving Bond's internal struggles and romantic affairs as the most interesting aspects of Quantum of Solace. Olga Kurylenko deserves to be dubbed one of the most beautiful Bond women ever, but she feels so dainty opposite Craig that it doesn't surprise us much when their relationship remains platonic. I'd rather Bond get his head together and his morale up before he decides to brag about his endeavours again.