At this point, the most dangerous threat James Bond faces does not shoot from the barrel of a gun or glimmer from the lens of a laser but instead springs from the tightly-coiled engine of the audience's expectations. Any new Bond film has to not only compete with the films that have come before but also the other high-end entries in the action genre; any political or moral ideas in the film have to compete with the political and moral landscape of the world we live in. Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond film, is Daniel Craig's second outing as James Bond, and the blunt, brutal and brisk Casino Royale set the bar very high; if Casino Royale marked a return to greatness for the Bond franchise, Quantum of Solace represents a return to adequacy.
Directed by Mark Forster, Quantum of Solace has the basic bones of a Bond film -- globe-trotting settings, cars and chases, hair's-breadth escapes, nefarious plots. It does not, fortunately, have much of the fat that the worst Bond films have larded onto the series -- there's a minimum of high-tech gadgetry, no skiing sequences, no invisible cars, no henchmen with metal teeth. While Casino Royale brought Judi Dench's gruff spymaster M back to the series from the Brosnan era, it also brought Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion back to the franchise; in the new Bond era, cars crash and buildings break with thundering, shuddering force as Daniel Craig's Bond smashes, crashes and grunts his way through a hard, painful world. In the film's opening car chase, on the winding coastal roads of Italy, there are a number of moments where the crunch and thud of the action catches you up in a two-fisted grip of exhilaration and terror. Part of that's the stunt work, but a big part of it is Craig's Bond -- who you believe as being capable of executing a perfect shift-and-skid turn while firing an automatic weapon out of what used to be his car window with shards of glass lacerating his face.