If you held up your thumb over Daniel Craig's face and took in the mayhem around him, you'd think you were watching The Bourne Simulation rather than the 22nd (and shortest-ever) ode to Ian Fleming's suave government killer.
Mr. White ultimately leads Bond to one Mr. Slate, who in turn leads him to a Mr. Greene. That's right: The global conspiracy this time around isn't SPECTRE, but some rogue wing of the United Colors of Benetton.
The problems can be traced to a screenplay that is stuffed with internecine plot points and shades-of-gray complexities, but little else: no character-sharpening details and none of the wit and charm that buoyed Casino Royale.
Quantum of Solace isn't frivolous or cheesy, but it isn't all that much fun either. Craig is still the right guy for the job, but for his boiling-on-the-inside performance to work, he needs more to play with.
A few years back, the easy sexism and narcissism of the James Bond series looked dated to the point of obsolescence, but Quantum of Solace proves that a revenge motive is just what's needed to rejuvenate all the Bond cliches.
Marc Forster seems like a counterintuitive choice to direct an action spectacle. But any doubts I might have had flew out the window and splattered onto the hood of a parked car during an early, hellacious brawl.
Stripped of Royale's humor, elegance and reinvented old-school stylishness, Quantum has little left except its plot, which is rudimentary and slightly barmy, in the line of the Roger Moore pics of the '70s and '80s.