No ‘Solace’ for 007

Two years sure have flown by for James Bond. Britain’s favorite super spy has been riding high since 2006’s “Casino Royale,” a film that gave Hollywood’s longest running franchise new life and a new face in Daniel Crag to take the helm.

“Quantum of Solace” comes right off the heels of “Royale”, making it the first Bond ever to be a true sequel.

Hell-bent on revenge after being betrayed by his short-lived love, Vesper, Bond (Daniel Craig), tirelessly searches for the organization behind Vesper’s death and double crossing.

Bond’s cohorts tell him he needs to sleep. But how could he? He’s too busy with high-octane car chases, foot chases on rooftops, close quarter hand-to-hand combat, boat chases and jumping out of airplanes. Forget sleep; neither Bond nor the audience has any time to slow down and breathe in this, one of the most intense, Bond films ever. But where “Solace” is heavy on action, it’s light on everything else.

A dense plot, one of the most underdeveloped and, as a result, lamest Bond girls (Olga Kurylenko) ever and a one-dimensional villain make the moments between the action slightly dull.

Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) plans to control as much of the planet’s water supply as possible, and it’s up to Bond to stop him. Never mind giving Greene more substance; “Solace” relies completely on “Villains 101.” Greene is a megalomaniac who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Such a formula has worked for the Bond franchise since its incarnation, and that’s the problem. Unlike “Casino Royale”, “Solace” doesn’t want to take any chances; which is ironic since it took one of its biggest risks ever in hiring indie-film auteur Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland,” “Stranger than Fiction”).

Forster plays it safe by turning up the action and mishandling the rest. This kind of film is just outside of Forster’s grasp, and it’s apparent from the get-go.

This film lies solely on Craig’s shoulders. His debut in “Casino Royale” stirred up debates on forums and blogs across the web that he may one day top Sean Connery as the best Bond ever. After “Solace,” he’s one step closer to attaining that crown. Connery alone could make any sub-par Bond flick mildly enjoyable, and Craig echoes that quality. It’s that quality that makes “Quantum of Solace” ultimately satisfying; that and some kick-ass action.

Grade: B-