With the exception of Sean Connery's excellent 1963 From Russia With Love, James Bond actors have not fared well in their second outings. Roger Moore's 1973 debut as the famous spy in Live and Let Die exploded off the screen, falsely suggesting that a post-Connery Bond could be as exciting and interesting. Even the presence of the legendary Christopher Lee failed to salvage the critically-panned, financially disastrous 1974 follow up The Man With the Golden Gun. Some of Moore's later efforts such as Moonraker and A View To a Kill further demonstrated his inferiority to Connery and helped to elevate the weak Golden Gun's standing.
Timothy Dalton assumed the mantle in 1987's The Living Daylights, the grittiest, most faithful Bond interpretation since Connery's From Russia With Love. His next (and last) Bond film, the unmemorable License to Kill (1989), fell flat.
After a six year hiatus, the longest break since the series inception in 1962, James Bond returned with a new star (Pierce Brosnan) and for the first time in five films, a new director (Martin Campbell) with Goldeneye. The first Bond not derived from an original Ian Fleming story, the movie successfully modernized the venerable property while offering superior action and suspense. Sadly, Brosnan never returned anywhere close to this initial success with any of the next three Bond features, each worse than the other.
Campbell, who only directed the first Bronson, revisited the character for Daniel Craig's Bond debut in the 2006 film version of Fleming's first novel Casino Royale. One of the franchise's finest installments, the movie related the tale of the expertly-portrayed young Bond earning his 00 status and his subsequent mission in a realistic, exciting manner. Campbell successfully incorporated and jettisoned various elements from the previous 20 films, while remaining surprisingly faithful to the picture's source material. Craig's superior Bond hearkened back to the dark, less humorous visage of Fleming's novels.
Craig returns for his second go, sans Campbell, as the world's most famous spy in Quantum of Solace, a direct sequel to the previous movie. Sadly, like his predecessors, Craig failed to shake the sophomore doldrums.
In the midst of careening cars on the streets of Siena, Italy, Quantum picks up soon after the conclusion of Royale as Bond begins his quest to avenge Vesper's death. Following the opening credits, director Marc Forester attempts to recapture the excitement of the previous film's frenetic, parkour chase, but fails miserably. This sequence typifies a flaw throughout. By using too many closeups and jerky camera angles, the scenes become murky and indecipherable. The usually reliable Forester, who helmed the under-appreciated Stranger Than Fiction, makes his first stab at an action film.
During an opera, Bond uncovers Quantum, a secret global organization bent on -- what else? -- world domination. Forester manages to detract from the movie's best scene with more senseless action and overly dramatic music interspersed with slow motion fights and gunfire.
One of the many secrets of a great Bond film, the banter between Bond and the villain du jour, is sorely lacking in Quantum of Solace. The talk between 007 and the bad guy lasts all of a not terribly interesting ten minutes as opposed to the fascinating and lengthy mental gymnastics during the Casino Royale poker game.
While not a terrible movie, the forgettable Quantum of Solace offers a mediocre addition to the Bond mythos, along similar quality lines to Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies. Even with Daniel Craig's quality acting, the film pales on every level to its predecessor, making it easily the most disappointing movie of the year.