Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and adult themes
Run Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Daniel Craig continues his smoldering run as takes-a-lickin’-and-keeps-on-tickin’ British super agent James Bond.
“Quantum” is a true sequel, picking up where the more stylish “Casino Royale” left off, with Bond so blinded by inconsolable rage (over the death of favorite femme fatale Vesper Lynd) that he’s laying waste to his nemeses with reckless abandon.
Kicking off with a classic car chase pitting Aston Martin against Alfa Romeo on the hairpin turns of Italy’s majestic mountain roads, the action unspools at breakneck pace. Bond works his passport like a frequent flyer fanatic – Austria, Russia, Bolivia, Haiti – circling the globe to uncover the dark minds behind QUANTUM, the uber-secret international organization that blackmailed Vesper.
Based on hunches and innuendo Bond goes rogue in order to avenge Vesper’s death, much to the consternation of unflappable M16 head M (a pitch-perfect Judi Dench) who wants his kinetic energies focused on Mr. Greene (Mathieu Almaric of “Diving Bell and the Butterfly” fame), a spiteful bad-boy ostensibly rejuvenating the earth while secretly gaining personal control of global natural resources by negotiating illegal pipelines with foreign dictators.
It wouldn’t be Bond without coups, cacophonic crashes and a daunting collection of corpses. Ditto the ubiquitous Bond girl, in this case a sultry beauty named Camille (Ukrainian model Olga Kurylenko) who has her own family score to settle. An avant-garde opera scene combines the elegant grace of Tosca with two-stepping quick-cuts and the chance to ogle Craig in a tux (hot hot hot!); a fiery airplane crash tests the limits of class and credibility (and bears more than a passing resemblance to the dim-witted Pierce Brosnan days of yore).
Director Marc Forster and screenwriter Paul Haggis (“Crash”) seem bent on packaging every conceivable disaster, rendering the whole more Bourne than Bond. Technology is slick and the bullet ballet superbly designed but I confess to some conspiracy-meets-conflict confusion.
And then there’s Craig, so cool, so deliciously bad-ass it hurts. His steely blues and live wire physicality are eminently watchable, subtly masking intense fury and unfathomable depth. Despite the fact that “Quantum” lacks a certain je-ne-sais-quoi Craig brings a fierce edge to his iconic super secret agent around which an entire franchise can be built.