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  Quantum of Solace This Time It's Personal
Year: 2008
Director: Marc Forster
Stars: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, David Harbour, Jesper Christensen, Anatole Taubman, Rory Kinnear, Tim Piggott-Smith, Joaquín Cosio, Fernando Guillén Cuervo, Jesús Ochoa
Genre: Action, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: British agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) is a man on the vengeance trail after his lover was killed by a shadowy organisation in Venice. Now, not far from there on a mountain road, he is fleeing the scene of the crime and the enemy forces are drawing their plans against him, this time by sending a couple of cars bearing machine gun-toting heavies to finish him off. But Bond's driving skills are second to none, and he negotiates the traffic, the twists in the trail and the hail of gunfire with equal ease until he manages to send his pursuers to their graves. What did they want so badly? A certain gentleman in the back of Bond's car...

After the glowing reaction Casino Royale received, when Quantum of Solace was announced one might have expected the same warm welcome, yet there were grumblings from the outset. First, people didn't like the title: Quantum of what? What did that even mean? Then they didn't like the theme song, as performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys, finding it too avant garde. And finally, when the film was released, they were not too keen on it either, with the most common complaint being that it was confusing. However, not everyone was convinced by these mutterings of discontent.

That is because, in spite of the constant comparisons with the Jason Bourne series which was seen to have set the mark high for all future spy capers, this Bond made sure it was its own entity, and by being a direct sequel to the previous film it showed it was embracing its recent history as well as its legacy. And you didn't have to have perfect recall of Casino Royale to appreciate this, as it was still a proper story in its own right, indeed there were far fewer references to the preceding instalment than you might have expected, to underline that this was less chapter two than another part along the same lines. Even so, almost from its release it was set to become a Bond cult movie to rival On Her Majesty's Secret Service, though for possibly different reasons.

It's true that Quantum of Solace wastes no time in getting to the action, with a brief but adrenaline-pumping chase to begin with illustrating this was a leaner incarnation of the booze, birds and gags Bond that had been so popular before, but was now looking to have plowed the same furrow for too long. If anything, this could have done with more jokes, as the wit 007 employs here is terse at best, but again this is appropriate to Craig's reading as a man driven more by the perceived affronts he has suffered than his duty to Queen and country. If he happens to save the world along the way, so much the better, but he does take things personally.

For his female counterpart, Olga Kurylenko plays Camille, an old flame of the main villain who is determined to assassinate the military man who had done her so much damage - another personal vendetta, as you can see. That villain is Greene (Mathieu Amalric), who it turns out has a new secret organisation at his fingertips, a reference to the Spectre of old and diplomatically avoiding making any one nation the bad guys. He is a twenty-first century evil, the businessman who is prepared to ruin whole economies if it means he can profit, something that offends Bond's sense of fair play, however concealed it may be here. If anything, in spite of its carefully measured out action, Quantum of Solace is a reflective Bond movie, leaving one not so much basking in the grand tradition of the series and more musing over how it might be better to let the past stay where it is even as you learn from it. So this was not Casino Royale version 2, it was something new and worth appreciating on its own terms. And that theme song was great. Music by David Arnold.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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