Quantum of Solace
In the closing scenes of Casino Royale, Bond finds the number of a Mr. White in Vesper Lynd's cell phone, using it to lay a trap for him near Lake Garda. The final scene of Casino Royale shows Bond shooting White in the leg: "The name's Bond. James Bond."
Quantum of Solace picks up immediately after White's capture. The quintessential opening chase scene involves Bond weaving through traffic on the crowded lakeside drive pursued by what are presumably White's men. In typical Bond fashion, several civilian and police vehicles are destroyed in the process of his escape. Bond's Aston Martin DBS V12 from the previous film is trashed in these first few minutes which is a shame because that car was a damn sexy piece of automotive engineering.
Upon making it to a MI6 safe house in Siena, Italy, Bond meets up with M and together they proceed to interrogate Mr. White about his connections with a larger organization: "The first thing you should know about us is that we have people everywhere." M's personal bodyguard them opens fire on Bond, M, and the other agents present. Attempting to flee he is chased on foot by Bond. The chase takes place over the rooftops of the medieval town, eventually ending inside a church undergoing renovation. Upon dispatching the mole, Bond returns to the safe house to find White gone.
Working on the few leads they have, Bond heads for Port-au-Prince in Haiti. There he meets Camille Montes and rescues her from General Medrano who is planning a coup d'état of the Bolivian government. Another chase scene ensuses.
It is revealed that Dominic Greene, the man Bond has been tracking is working with the CIA and Agent Felix Lieter. Greene has arranged to facilitate Medrano's coup of the Bolivian government in exchange for a large and apparently worthless area of the Bolivian desert. At the same time he is working with the CIA who believe that Greene has found oil on the land. Felix is uneasy with the relationship commenting to his superior "You know who Greene is and you want to put us in bed with him," to which his superior responds sarcastically "Yeah, you're right. We should just deal with nice people."
Bond follows Greene to Austria where several members of Greene's terrorist organization are meeting, using Puccini's Tosca as a cover and communicating via special ear pieces. Bond incapacitates one of the members of the organization and steals an ear piece, overhearing some of their plans. He also uses this opportunity to photograph several members of the terrorist ring which include a top advisor to the PM. A gunfight in the restaurant occurs as Bond tries to escape. Making his way to the roof, Bond captures one of his pursuers and holds him at gunpoint over the edge of the building. After refusing to tell Bond anything, Bond releases the man and allows him to drop onto a car on the ground below where he is shot by one of Greene's men.
M feels that Bond has gone too far and revokes his credit cards and passport in the hopes of forcing him to return or at least to prevent him from moving. Bond, however, finds René Mathis from the previous film and convinces him to help him. Heading for La Paz, Bolivia the two meet up with Strawberry Fields who has been sent by MI6 to detain Bond. In the course of two scenes, Bond seduces her before attending a party hosted by Greene. Here he meets one of Mathis' contacts, the Bolivian Colonel of the Police and runs into Camille again. Leaving the party with Camille, Bond is stopped by the police who order him to open the trunk of the car. Inside he finds Mathis who has been beaten. A brief fight ensues where Mathis is shot by the police before they're killed in turn by Bond. Mathis dies after telling Bond that he must forgive Vesper and himself.
Bond and Camille go to investigate Greene's land in the desert in a Douglas DC-3. In an aerial chase scene, the plane is shot down. Bond and Camille escape using a parachute and fall into a sinkhole in the desert where they discover an underground reservoir. After a brief discussion with M, Bond escapes apprehension by MI6 and meets with Felix at a bar. Felix, who is increasingly uneasy with the actions of his government reveals the deal the CIA has made with Greene before telling Bond to escape. Bond evades the American forces and heads for General Medrano's estate in the Bolivian desert with Camille. While there, Camille, whose family was raped and murdered by Medrano several years earlier, kills the General while Bond kills the Colonel and captures Greene. After interrogating Greene about his connections to the terrorist organization, now known as Quantum, Bond maroons him in the desert with nothing but a can of motor oil.
With only one bit of unfinished business left, Bond heads for Kazan, Russia where he intercepts Yusef, Vesper Lynd's former lover whose alleged kidnapping powered many of the events in Casino Royale. Bond confronts Yusef who is a member of Quantum but restrains himself from killing him, instead turning Yusef over to MI6 for interrogation. Outside in the russian winter, M reveals that Felix's superior was removed and that Felix had been promoted to replace him. In the final scene, Bond drops the necklace Vesper gave to him in the previous movie to the snow and walks away.
One of the parts of the previous film that I disliked the most were the opening titles. All previous bond films featured sihilouettes of nude women juxtaposed with images of Bond and a more subdued song. Casino Royale broke that mould by using contemporary rock music and no women in a decidedly more abstract sequence than previous films. In Quantum of Solace we see a return to the classic style with a beautiful sequence of shots featuring Bond walking over sand dunes with shifting women in the background.
The film had, in my opinion, too much action and not enough plot. Making the issue worse, the action scenes are not mixed evenly throughout with most of them occurring in the first half of the movie. This made the first half a bit overwhelming and the later half far too slow. In a related issue, one of my pet peeves about modern movies is how rapidly shots change. The chase scenes, while well done, had twice as many shots as necessary. While I can understand the desire for creating a feeling of chaos it shouldn't come at the price of comprehension. Too many of the shots were out of focus and fleetingly short, creating more of an impression of action than any sort of substance. Despite my dislike of the somewhat spastic cinematography, it formed a nice contrast with the relatively slow shots during dialogue scenes.
The Bond girls were decidedly unspectacular. Camille's desire for revenge was a far cry from the depth of character we received from Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale and she never quite felt like she was fleshed out as a real character in this film. Strawberry Fields was also nothing more than eye candy and, quite frankly, irritated the hell out of me with both her wardrobe and demeanor. Quantum of Solace also noticeably lacked any form of bikini--enough said.
The plot never quite felt complete to me and the underlying story arc involving Quantum made the whole film feel like the middle-of-the-trilogy sort of movie I'm becoming irritatingly familiar with. While Casino Royale broke the mould of nearly ever Bond movie before, I feel like this more closely resembles one of the weakest of the Bond movies with its focus on action with just enough characterization to prevent it from being a total train wreck. The product placement of Ford cars was disgusting and took away from what would have otherwise been a fairly realistic film.
Bottom line: there are some spectacular scenes in this film that carry it through such as the opera scene and the chase on the rooftops. However, it relies far too much on Bond as an action hero and not as a spy. I saw this movie for free at the movie theater on my campus but if you don't have that opportunity I would suggest you forget about paying the $10 ticket price for the movie and wait a few months for it to come out on DVD. In short, it's worth paying to see but not worth paying too much.