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Quantum of Solace

By Cole Haddon | Posted 11/12/2008

The latest entry in the James Bond franchise begins in the middle of a car chase and doesn't let up for more than a few quick breaths until the credits roll. This time around, the superspy is out for vengeance for the death of his one great love, Vesper Lynd, in Casino Royale two years ago. This apparent blood thirst none too pleases his superior and mother figure, M (Judi Dench), who still can't keep Bond (played with engaging invincibility by Daniel Craig) on a tight enough leash. It doesn't help that Bond has, if flimsy evidence can be trusted, discovered the existence of a secret organization called Quantum that's willing to trade terror for wealth and international power. Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a prominent eco-minded businessman with questionable ties, is his best lead, and Bond follows him from Haiti to Austria to Bolivia, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake that sets his own spy organization, as well as the CIA, after him.

Along the way, Bond manages to save the life of Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a Bolivian secret agent out to protect her country from a military coup spurred on by Quantum and, like Bond, get a little vengeance of her own for the murder of her family years ago. Consequently, Bond and Camille serve as broken mirrors of each other as they try to survive boat chases, being shot down by outdated fighters, and an underwhelming fiery finale, a let down only because of the wonderfully staged action sequences leading up to it. This mirror also culminates with an uncharacteristic lack of bodily-fluid exchange, a dramatic twist that has a much more substantial impact on Bond's future than would a quick romp.

If Quantum of Solace fails to live up to its predecessor, it's no fault of director Marc Forster; by virtue of its extremely focused and narrow storyline, it never rises above being a bookend to the Bond origin assayed in Casino Royale. Forster, however, triumphs in the movie's spectacularly conceived, executed, and edited action sequences that are so operatic that he even juxtaposed one against an extravagant performance of Tosca. There's also a confusing lack of fun here, again by virtue of the chosen story--007 really only smirks at the audience once this time through. James Bond has always been about wish fulfillment, but it's not clear anymore why anyone would wish to be in his shoes.

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