Bond who?

Back in 2006, Casino Royale amazed most moviegoers with its gritty and intense story, mixed with Daniel Craig’s refreshing portrayal of James Bond. Its success left Quantum of Solace with a big pair of shoes to fill. With the benefit of having both an established story and characters, Quantum lives up to Bond’s new action level but lacks persona.

The lack of persona is evident right from the beginning of the film. Bond is seen being chased by a few attackers, with Mr. White in his trunk. Mr. White, for memory purposes, was the man Bond shot at the end of Casino Royale to get answers about Vesper Lynd’s death. When Bond and M (Judi Dench) get their chance to interrogate White, M’s bodyguard turns on MI-6 and allows White to escape. The answers about the mysterious world-wide organization go out the window and it leads to a lingering question throughout the film: who do you trust?

The trust issue works well for Quantum in terms of a spy film. During the search for environmentalist Dominic Greene (Matheiu Amalric), a manipulative businessman looking to dominate Bolivia, Bond employs some clever spy work. And past Bond’s underlying quest for revenge against Greene’s organization, the line between good and evil is blurred to a good extent. But between the ingenuity and impulse to kill, there is not much that fulfills James Bond’s persona.

The charm and charisma Craig set up so well in Casino Royale is sporadic at best in Quantum. Too often, Bond comes across as a flat character just out to kill. We have seen this machine-like character with Jason Bourne of the Bourne film series, but that character fit the mood of his respective realm. If you are familiar with the Bourne films it is hard to ignore the infusion of Bourne’s personality into Bond. Unfortunately, it just does not work out for Quantum. And the thinness of the character extends into the feel of the film.

There is not nearly as much intensity in Quantum as there is in Casino Royale. Granted, there are exciting times throughout Quantum, but it does not stay up to par all the time. Thankfully for the film, its pace is kept as just the right level, keeping the film from ever feeling like a drag. Still, it makes the times where Quantum really shines that much harder to enjoy because you’ll wish that the shine would come out more often.

Bond’s new girl, Olga Kurylenko’s Camille, suffers from this element as well. She weaves in and out of the story line and finally comes into her own at the end of the film. But by then, it is far too late. Kurylenko is not to be placed on the Worst Bond Girls list, but perhaps more on the Forgettable Bond Girls list.

So while the film is a solid action film, the fact remains that this is still supposed to be a Bond film. There just happens to not be enough Bond in it.