MRR Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

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Daniel Craig is back as James Bond in this sequel to 2006's Casino Royale. In this film Agent 007 travels to half a dozen exotic locations in an effort to avenge the death of his beloved Vesper Lynd. The villain is Dominic Greene (played by Mathieu Amalric), who masquerades as an environmentalist to disguise his diabolical schemes. Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton star as the Bond girls.
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"Quantum of Solace" is a Leap into Action for James Bond

-- Rating: PG 13 (violence, action, and some sexuality)
Length: 106 minutes
Release Date: November 14, 2008
Directed by: Mark Forster
Genre: Action, Crime, and Adventure

"Quantum of Solace" is the 22nd installment of the James Bond franchise and the sequel to "Casino Royale." Both of these films feature Daniel Craig in the lead role. While Bond films have always had some degree of action, this film focuses much more on this aspect than past films.

The breathtaking opening scene of the movie involves Bond taking part in a car chase through the mountain tunnels of Monte Carlo. There are CGI lighting effects interspersed with shots of Bond as he tries to maintain control of the vehicle and shots from the point of view of oncoming trucks. As is normal for Bond films, the chase really has nothing to do with the film's plot; it's just a showcase of excitement. However, he does carry precious cargo in the form of Quantum agent Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) who is later questioned about the organization.

The villain of the movie is a shadow of former Bond adversaries, although as a member of the Quantum organization he does have his own evil charm. Unlike his predecessors, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) doesn't have an outlandish base of operations such as a moon headquarters. Instead, his den of evildoing is just a warehouse. His nefarious plan is to control the entire water supply of Bolivia. Greene is the owner of an ecological protection firm, so his plot does not draw any suspicion in the world community. The French actor Amalric is the perfect picture of a madman, with crazy eyes and a terrifying, sinister stare.

The Bond girl in the film also takes quite a different path from tradition. Her name is simply Camille Montes, which does not conjure up the images given by outlandish names such as Plenty O'Toole or Pussy Galore. She is the former lover of Greene, and she joins Bond in order to exact revenge for her family's death at the hands of Bolivian dictators. Bond is sympathetic to her because he is seeking revenge against Quantum due to the death of his lover Vesper in "Casino Royale." The film's director (Mark Forster) wanted Camille to be a strong female companion for Bond and not just one his usual flings. She also acts as an emotional mirror for Bond, because she can show feelings that the repressed Bond cannot express.

Long time followers of the Bond franchise will delight in the callbacks to previous films. A perilous skydive will remind them of a similar scene in "The Spy Who Loved Me." In another part of the film, a truckload of occupied coffins spill out during an accident in Haiti, which recalls a creepy scene in "Live and Let Die." The most obvious recall is the infamous "Goldfinger" scene that involved painting a dead woman in gold; a character is dipped in oil in this film.

This incarnation of the iconic James Bond is outstanding. Craig brings everything to the role that 007 is known for: good looks, suaveness, agility, and a toned body. Yet, the writing for the character-the work of Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade-is very sparse compared to the dialogue of past films. In this outing, Bond is definitely a man that takes the saying "actions speak louder than words" to heart.

This film had to be a very physically demanding performance, but Craig makes it look like a cake walk. For those that saw his Bond debut in the more elegant "Casino Royale," this gritty film is quite a contrast in comparison, and it shows an appreciated versatility for this actor. Bond is not a one-dimensional character, and Craig brilliantly carries this film.

With its increased action focus, "Quantum of Solace" is an excellent addition to the Bond franchise. It relies on real stunts for many of the main sequences-not CGI or green screen-a fact that is appreciated by many film aficionados. It's an entertaining ride, with charismatic acting, professional cinematography, and believable characterization. The iconic Bond theme song is played at the end of the film, separating "Quantum of Solace" and "Casino Royale" from other Bond films. The change is good in this case, as it keeps the audience in the moment right until the very end.

This film is rated 4 of 5 stars.