Daniel Craig is fortunate “Casino Royale” came out first. Not that one can be separated from the other – a problem – as “Solace” begins one hour after the other ends.
“Royale” was a huge bet that won big. It had everything a Bond film should have – action, intrigue, sex appeal, wit, gadgets, dastardly villains, surprises – plus some actual honest-to-God love for 007. Vesper, played by French model Eva Green, brought a twinkle to this new Bond’s blue eyes.
That twinkle is a busted Christmas light in “Solace.” You see it once or twice in the 106-minute film – A glimmer of hope! Maybe this will get good! - then it’s back to steel.
This is a revenge film served cold, but I can’t say that was the best way to serve it. This Bond rivals Buster Keaton for The Great Stone Face. There’s no emotion, no connection, almost no reprieve from his Terminator visage. The result is a film at arm’s length that tries to compensate for its lack of personality with fight scene after chase scene after explosion after shootout all with blurred camera shots and superfast cuts.
There have been 22 Bond films so far and many formulas have emerged, including two women for our man: One who becomes his sidekick, one he uses and loses. Sometimes a woman is able to rise above the baggage of “Bond girl.” Halle Berry stole “Die Another Day” from Pierce Brosnan (and saved the film entirely) and Eva Green’s chemistry with Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale” forged the truest Bond.
Can’t say the same for the Bond girls this time. (Although neither is Denise Richards/Christmas Jones, I'll give them that.) Olga Kurylenko plays Camille – the sidekick – who has some back story about her family being killed by a Bolivian general. So she’s in this for revenge as well, but her plight is even more removed from his. At least fans will have met Vesper.
“Solace” gives us a villain (Mathieu Amalric), who looks like a normal guy and even runs a company called Greene Planet. We have a sinister group called Quantum which has people “everywhere,” but not only does M not know anything about them, I still don’t quite get it. (Please don’t return to Quantum next time. Please. Let it go.)
“Quantum of Solace” is so hell-bent on being retro with its outdated opening credits (not a fan of the song by Jack White and Alicia Keys) and back-to-basics format, it feels like regression. It’s a bad fit. The old model worked (occasionally) for the other Bonds because they were more … Bond-ish.
That’s what made Craig such a revelation. People gasped and clutched their pearls at first, because he didn’t fit the mold. Blond hair? Blue eyes? That scrappy loner who just looks like he’s going to hit me but gives a crooked schoolboy grin to the ladies? But that ended up his strength. He’s our Bond for the 21st century. An unpolished antihero for a post-Bourne world. (Sorry, it was inevitable the other B name would come up.)
At this point, you have to do more than send him around the world in fancy boats and hotels. You have to do more than have him beat up the bad guys. From Bourne to Batman, we’ve got our stoic tough guys covered.
In “Casino Royale,” Daniel Craig proved 007 was still relevant. Still fresh, still fun. His best points are rendered moot in “Solace,” which is more interested in playing out Bond’s expressionless “inconsolable rage” than actually entertaining the audience.
This isn’t a Bergman film: Bond can search his soul on his own time. Bring back that wit, that sparkle - that raw, dangerous, vulnerable guy we bet on a couple of years ago. He was a winner.
In fact I slept for about ten minutes during the movie and this was so un-bond-ish, they had to remind us that this is a BOND movie by running the QOS-opening credits at the end...
And last but not the least - there was no - "I'm Bond, James bond" in this movie.. Is there anything more I need to say?
Rating : 2.3/5
Verfdict : Don't watch. Let there be Casino Royale :)