Casino Royale ended under the burning sweat-sucked Mediterranean sun, as Quantum ends under the frozen back alley snows of Moscow. This James Bond, not so unlike his predecessors, forms punchlines by locale (the Italian horse race, the gambling motif moved from the baccarat table to the metaphysical racetrack) cut-and-pasted to violence (the chase after the embedded QUANTUM agent through a jungle of an old city which Bond masterfully lopes about, spiralling upside-down from ropes and I-beams, and yet a bullseye shooter in the brutal dance of Special Branch agents). The Daniel Craig Bond movies enjoy construction-site set pieces, reflecting a world not intact, in the state of regaining structure, and 007, seeming roguish to M.(om) who longs for the Cold War (frightened by but veteranly faithful in Bond), knows how to navigate this world, by Aston Martin, jalopy boat and cargo plane. The violence is then crosscut to opera (the silent montage lobby and kitchen shootout, the intelligence snatched by Bond's only gadget - digital camera - amidst the vast Moonrakerish theater). Still, it was not so appropriate that the one-liners, the attempts at quick Bond wry schtick, were meager. And if the dramatic sweep of Giancarlo Gianni's sacrificial lamb was not as tidal as his character's initial re-introduction purports to suggest, Bond ends up leaving his corpse in the dumpster. It would seem that Felix Leiter, as employed in this movie, would do the same for Bond if in a similar predicament.
The initial revenge plot does transcend its made-for-cable histrionics, largely inspired by the Euro-crat villain, Dominic Greene, a sly froggy entrepreneur of the axis of evil, whose justifications lie in the pragmatism of geopolitics, and who dispatches innocent "Strawberry (according to the credits) Fields" with a full-body cast of oil, as if the ill-developed sexpot were an installation by Damien Hirst. This was the most blatant of Bond homages, as equally clunky as the more subtler (For Yr Eyes VW, Spy Who Loved Me performance scene, the Astin Martin). These are brutal lean times, M despairs of Bond's emotional motivations, and so Bond himself becomes the gadget, his body a work of today's advanced technology, given the mystic moral stance by which 007 barrels and stomps and careens and fires. Greene should have been much more exotic, with at least a deformity or grotesque proclivity, and the Bolivian dictator could have walked out of a Vin Diesel movie. This Bond fan still prefers the Chris Cornell song for Casino Royale, of which a bit Jack White lifted. Perhaps Marc Forster is more a fake artist than genuine crafter (Monster's Ball notwithstanding, his pedigree proves such) and the script is co-credited to the all-time contemporary Hollywood fake artist, Paul Haggis. High Bond marks though to the Le Corbu styled desert compound, the plastic visible reality of the Quantum of Solace, where Bond and Cam have their most perverse and intimate moment, at the brink of double-suicide, Bond about to turn the gun on himself. Thematically, this is a good gritty touch of the arc landing again where it began, and Bond has traditionally got the death wish, however it seems that, besides the graceful intensity of the early Italian chase/fistfight sequence, one is never giddy about Quantum of Solace. And a Bond movie must, ultimately, be more giddy than grave. J.Bauer and J.Bourne are grave enough supersoldier Bond-children for the 00s. Not enough of the prodigious charm of the first line of Ian Fleming's original short story, nor the evidence of the second paragraph's second line (though Bond does compel his foe to imbibe motor oil in the desert as if the mezcal).