Quantum of Solace

"Quantum of Solace" is the first James Bond movie to be a direct sequel to its predecessor, "Casino Royale." The director this time, Marc Forster ("The Kite Runner" and "Finding Neverland") flings us into non-stop action and hair-raising vehicular mayhem before we have time to finish unzipping our jackets. The problem is, there is too MUCH non-stop action and vehicular mayhem; we left the theater more than a little confused. Not about the quality of the production, the fascinating locations or the terrific actors, but about the basic story line, muddied by herky-jerky hand-held cameras and hard-to-decipher dialog.

James Bond, capably played once again by Daniel Craig ("Moll Flanders,""Munich" and "Infamous"), is still mourning the loss of Vesper, his lover from "Casino Royale." If you recall, she was trapped underwater in an elevator cage and he was unable to save her.

This time out, he is still trying to solve the tangled web of conspiracies that seemed to involve her, the CIA, M16 and a shadow organization called "Quantum." His boss, M, still played by Judi Dench ("Notes on a Scandal,""Cranford" and "Mrs. Henderson Presents") has serious reservations about his motivation. She strongly suspects that he is out purely to avenge Vesper's death and has lost touch with his fealty to her, to M16 and to Britain.

The plot hinges on an environmentalist who is cutting a deal with a scuzzball representing the Bolivian government, but don't worry, you will see plenty of traitors within the various organizations, interesting locations, beautiful women and LOTS of gun battles, fist fights, aerial skirmishes, knife fights and speedboat chases. Yup, LOTS of blowie uppie stuff!

The villain this time has no gimmicks: no gold finger, no steel jaw, no bald head. Instead, as played by Mathieu Amalric ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" [won Best Actor Cesar, the French Academy Award] and "Munich"), he is simply a successful, amoral conniver who has figured out a way to milk environmentalism and enrich himself at the same time.

My advice? Honestly? Wait for the DVD so you have captions to help you with the complicated plot, and you can reverse it when you suspect something has slipped by (I automatically kept reaching for my remote...).