Quantum of Silence

Directed by Marc Forster with Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini and Judi Dench

106 minutes, color, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content, 2008

Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko

Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko

By Carter B. Horsley

Quantum of Solace is the 22nd official James Bond film and the second to star Daniel Craig in the title role. He first appeared two years ago in "Casino Royale" and his Bond is quite violent and not very lovable and not very humorous.

In addition, Quantum of Solace has the worst theme "song" in the history of the series and is not particular scenic and much of its scenery is not luxurious. The song, "Another Way to Die," is sung by Jack White and Alicia Keys.

The good news, however, is that Olga Kurylenko as Camille, the "Bond" girl in this movie, is very alluring and sexy and interesting even though she does not have much dialogue, that Mathieu Alaric as the villain "Dominic Greene" is appropriately leacherous, swarmy and malicious, and that Giancarlo Giannini as "Rene Mathis" is good, mature and amusing.

In his review, Roger Ebert correctly noted that "James Bond is not an action hero!....He is an attitude....He exists for the foreplay and the cigarette."

The great Bond movies had spectacular gimmicks and technology and gorgeous scenery both, natural and human. This one appears to be embarrassed by such things. Even Q and Moneypenny are gone.

What has taken their place is the insipid and terrible direction that characterizes the Jason Bourne movies and make them implausible inane and incomprehensible. The director, Marc Forster, obviously belongs to the Internet generation that is only able to read a paragraph at a time and thinks that is sufficient wisdom to be brilliant. Such quick, clumsy and incompetent editing is all too common nowadays and is usually used to cover up poor computer graphics.

"Neither shaken nor stirred," read part of the headline in the November 11, 2008 review of this film in the Village Voice by Robert Wilonsky. "It's as though Forster ('Monster's Ball,' 'Finding Neverland') and his two editors (longtime collaborator Matt Cheese and, get this, 'Get Smart' and 'Bourne Supremacy' vet Richard Pearson) filmed Quantum on a roller coaster and cut the movie with a food processor set on 'indecipherable,'" according to the quite accurate Mr. Wilonsky.

"It's both frantic and boring," Mr. Wilonsky continued, "a surprising and wholly unnecessary attempt to gin up the revived franchise by turning Bond into Bourne. If Bond is to bound again (which, given the box-office tracking for Quantum, is all but assured), it will have to be with a different director; Forster has done the seemingly impossible to this director-proof series, treating Bond with such disdain as to render him pointless in his own movie....Between swerves and smashes, we simply have no idea who's doing what to whom, where they're doing it, or why. What's meant to be kinetic and cathartic serves only to disorient, to keep the audience at a head-scratching distance....Bond does little more than sulk through the picture—Forster doesn't allow him so much as a grin...."

Daniel Craig is one mean spy and while he has a good physique he does not have the fabulous good looks of his ancestors in the role. While it is unfortunately undeniable that we now live in a world that glamorizes ugliness and deplores true beauty, an important part of the allure of Bond is that not only does every woman lust after him because of his looks but also that every man holds him up as the "gold" standard of good-looks, suavity and deering-do.

A change of pace, of course, is not necessarily bad, but clearly this movie is extremely influenced by the three recent films about Jason Bourne all starring Mathew Damon as a "rogue" spy and the complete antithesis of Bond. Damon is not believeable in his Bourne roles and is absolutely wrong as a role-model for Bond.

Craig is not a bad actor but he is inappropriate for the Bond character, at least for those who saw the first 20 films in the series, all of which danced on the tightrope of reality and comedy. This film, on the other hand, has some high kicks but no rhythm, no grace, no style unless you consider smashing elbows into faces la Ultimate Fighters an art form.

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