This film picks up almost immediately after the last one, with Bond freshly wounded over and wrestling with the death of Vesper and his feelings for her as he engages in his mission to take down Quantum, a shadowy and villainous organization that is also responsible for attempting to kill M. The current mission brings him into contact with another broken, raging and wounded soul, Camille, who is seeking her own revenge on the people responsible for killing her family when she was a child. In no small part, it's Bond’s interaction and relationship with Camille that ends up helping him work through his own rage, moving away from revenge and towards a sense of peace with Vesper, her loss and his feelings for her—a kind of movement towards forgiveness.
I agree with folks like Stephen Greydanus who observe this theme of revenge and forgiveness is not nearly as powerful or developed as it could have been, but I did find it interesting how Bond’s movement away from revenge is literally a movement away from death and destruction to life. For a significant portion of the film, Bond struggles with his anger at Vesper’s betrayal, his guilt surrounding her death, his love for her and his desire to revenge her death. As he rages with these intense emotions, he leaves a trail of dead bodies in his wake—so much so that he alarms M, who cares for him more than she admits. But as he interacts with Camille as she works through her own emotions and undertakes her own revenge, Bond begins to change. In the end, his choices leave in his wake justice and life rather than death and revenge—and that leaves him a better man because of it.
In addition to a worthy (though admittedly underdeveloped) theme, I enjoyed several other aspects of the film as well—particularly the chase scenes. If the nifty gadgets were a signature of the previous films, then Bond’s heart-thumping and mind-boggling foot chases have got to be a signature of the reboot. Heh, I walked out of the last two films feeling like I really needed to start working out more seriously. Bond’s body seems to be a weapon or tool all on its own, adapting instantly to a slip on a tile roof or nailing a villain while hanging upside down from a rope. Not that it doesn’t bear the scars—we can see that it does. And I think there’s a life lesson here, this ability to stay in a condition that allows you to adapt to what life throws at you and make it work, scars and all. Bond, of course, is in much better condition physically than emotionally, but he gets there.
Also, as I reflect on why I feel more affinity for Daniel Craig’s Bond than previous ones, I can’t help but wonder if part of that has to do with how this film was shot. The camera is often close to him in the action sequences, sometimes even jostling and moving with his line of vision or his point of view. I think this creates a sense of intimacy with Bond—at least, it did with me.
This film is not as raw, intense or developed as Casino Royale, but I still really enjoyed it. I, for one, like the direction these films are taking and the themes they are exploring.
Note: This film contains scenes of violence, sometimes intense. As always, take time to research and consider a film before you see it.
(Images: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer & Columbia Pictures via IMDB)