Quantum of Solace (2008) or how to mess up your successful reboot.
A car chase in Sienna Italy that ends with Bond handing over Mr. White who was captured at the end of Casino Royale. White reveals that they have people everywhere then one of the random agents shoots the other and M. Bond chases the renegade agent and kills him. Back at HQ, traced money turns up something to sidetrack Bond, er... a new lead. Bond winds up saving a girl named Camille from being killed by Dominic and then General Medrano. Dominic is part of Le Chiffre's organization and plans to acquire oil by helping General Medrano take over Bolivia.
The problems start right away. We have no idea why Bond is in a car chase or who's shooting at him. Starting by leaning on the previous film then taking an abrupt left turn. "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys isn't a bad Bond theme, but it isn't memorable. We're also back to the naked ladies for the visuals. Hooray. It isn't long before we get a flimsy excuse for another action scene that tries to replicate the opening to Casino Royale except it is haphazard and silly. There was a finesse about the opening to the previous one and this seems just mindless. Bond shoots a guy while hanging upside down after getting his foot caught in a rope. It's meant to be intimidated, but by this point in the last film we'd been introduced to the plot and our main enemy. This film seemed to be about the organization behind Le Chiffre, but it doesn't end up doing that. It is Bond trying to stop a bad Le Chiffre copy from destabilizing a country and getting oil. This film should have been a more serious rendition of the opening to Diamonds are Forever.
James Bond deals with revenge, I guess. He talks a lot about Vesper and wanting to find the people responsible, but it just seems like he's doggedly pursuing criminals like the last film. He seems competent mostly though everyone else's incompetence.
Camille Montes is ex-Bolivian secret service seeking revenge on General Medrano for killing her family, how original. A minute after she is introduced, she's already flirting with then trying to kill Bond. Usually, this is left to the villainous bond girls like Helga Brandt and Xenia Onatopp, not the actual good Bond girl. It could be an interesting play, but the move just makes Camille look suicidal. Especially when she goes back to Dominic right after due to her desire for revenge. After she is saved again, she shows right back up and nearly gets killed a third time by Greene. She end up as a Bond girl in the same line as Christmas Jones. We are meant to believe she's strong and capable, but she doesn't do much to prove it. We have little stake in her revenge because we barely know her.
M is very out of touch in this movie. She gets pissed at Bond killing people but doesn't ask for explanations to try to understand why. Not that Bond explains either. Not a great M.
Rene Mathis is back and helps get Bond set up after Mi6 disowns him. He is a much more tragic figure after the end of Casino Royale. He gets some touching moments with Bond over memories of Vesper. Sadly, they are ultimately wasted since this film is not actually about Vesper. She just exists for pathos and because this film has to lean on its better predecessor.
Felix Leiter sits around and looks disgruntled as his hands are tied by his corrupt politician boss. He obviously lies to his boss but helps Bond as much as he can. He's consistent but sadly underused.
Dominic Greene runs an environmental agency as a cover for taking over the world's resources. His real plan is much more
The oil covered Goldfinger reference was cool, but not good enough to save this clunker. The sets are nice and as big budget as you expect. Sadly, the action scenes have little stake. We know Bond will be okay and we usually don't care about any other character in them. Every action scene in Casino Royale is moving toward Bond's purpose of getting the people responsible. Here we just have them because it's a Bond movie.
In the End
Action scenes! Something about Bond's emotional scars. A closing scene reminding us what this movie should have been about. Great.
I was wondering why I had a bad impression of this movie, but couldn't remember much about it. That's because its a bad rehash of Casino Royale with more action scenes shoved in and a political corruption story trying to cover for lazy writing. Most bad Bonds are at least fun, this one sucks all the fun out with its overly serious revenge theme. I wouldn't say it is necessarily bad, but it is boring and pointless.
Fortunately we get much more Casino than Quantum with the next movie. Tomorrow, I see how the Bond films have learned their lesson in Skyfall!