Quantum of Solace

Not the balm . . .

"Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up." Othello

Revenge suits James Bond as well as anyone, largely because he's uniquely capable of carrying it through to its final solution, be it blood or blarney. Quantum of Solace spends its time racing and blasting to the exclusion of rich verbal moments that Daniel Craig is capable of delivering with the best of Brit actors. But here his lines are minimal, the effects standard with no gadgets, and the girls not as cheaply attractive as golden ones of the past.

Craig as Bond is impressive?laconic, physically fit, cocky, and emotionally invulnerable except for his loss of his love, Vesper (Eva Green), from Casino Royale. During the moments he duels with his boss, M (Judy Dench), I wanted to stay there for the whole film, dynamite, roaring cars, and fires be damned. The acting chops between those two are formidable, cheapening the leer of villain Dominic Greene too gently played by Mathieu Amalric (Munich), and the flat affect of his leading actress Olga Kurylenko as Camille.

Oh, yes, when Quantum of Solace is not about revenge, it is all about fighting for the riches of the desert, and not the ones you usually think of.

The cinematography is top-rate if not frenetic beyond even American taste, and the chases on land and sea and air are all of the same cloth: Bond resolves them with the same deft turn of the wheel that leads his pursuers to a wall of sorts each time.

Quantum has no gadgets, few quips, and unremarkable women; in other words it veers from the canon of light-hearted fantasies to hard-core violence and angst. As we approach the second Depression within some memories, it would be good for the producing Broccoli family to remember how the franchise has helped us forget national and global calamities by employing less psychology and more irony.

This revenge business is not the balm to bring us back:

M: I thought I could trust you. You said you weren't motivated by revenge.
James Bond: I am motivated by my duty.
M: I think you're so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don't care who you hurt. When you can't tell your friends from your enemies, it's time to go.
James Bond: You don't have to worry about me.