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QUANTUM OF SOLACE

SYNOPSIS:
Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. Pursuing his determination to uncover the truth, James Bond (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) interrogate the man Bond captured at the end of Casino Royale - Mr White (Jesper Christensen) - who reveals the organization which blackmailed Vesper is far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined. In Haiti, a case of mistaken identity introduces Bond to the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a woman with her own vendetta. Camille leads Bond straight to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric), a major force within the mysterious organisation. Bond discovers that Greene, conspiring to take total control of one of the world's most important natural resources, is forging a deal with the exiled Bolivian General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio). As Bond gets closer to finding the man responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, he is made an outlaw by his own MI6.

Review by Louise Keller:
As the final chapter of the Casino Royale story, Quantum of Solace always promised to be somewhat different from the others in the Bond franchise. Picking up where the last one left off is risky as it invites comparisons, despite exotic locations, whopping set pieces, hair-raising stunts, pretty girls, some dry British humour and Daniel Craig as an intense and credible 007 in search of revenge. Hence the film never feels like a complete work, and for that, there is a price to be paid. In short, we are not satisfied. For starters, it lacks the heart Eva Green's Vesper gave the previous film. Like Bond, we miss her. And it rubs against the grain for Ian Fleming's essential character of Bond to be redefined as the screenwriters have done.

The film begins at the highest level of intensity with a frenetically edited car chase sequence in which Bond's Aston Martin kicks up a cloud of dust as it weaves in and out of speeding cars and trucks on perilously narrow, winding roads towards Siena. This is the beginning of a relentless quest for Bond to find some closure for his aching heart. As befitting, the storyline is complex with widespread locations including Brengenz in Austria, where a stunning high-concept plot thread plays out during an extraordinary outdoor performance of Tosca with the Vienna Symphony. We are with Bond all the way as he falters from the rooftops of Siena, keeps from getting wet in a Caribbean speedboat and defies all odds in the deserts of Bolivia.

Craig is a fine James Bond - seemingly as comfortable in a tux sipping his martini as on the action rollercoaster, where risk is obligatory. It is when there is the most at risk that we become most involved - like the scene when Bond pilots a vintage DC2 that is falling fast under serious fire. This is the film's defining moment and the one and only time that we wonder whether he will manage to scrape out of this alive. Villains and heroes become entwined: Mathieu Amalric heads the string of bad guys that play Bond's adversaries but his is not a character we love to hate as we did last time around with Mads Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre with the eye that weeps blood. Olga Kurylenko is appealing but I am not convinced the constant reappearance throughout of the always excellent Judi Dench as M works to the film's advantage; for my money, it interferes with the cumulative tension. As for the anticipated opening Bond credit sequence, it is a fizzle of disappointment as is Alicia Keys and Jack White's theme song.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With Casino Royale, the James Bond franchise was reinvigorated, with many of the original and valuable characteristics retrieved from the heap of diminutive efforts before it. Martin Campbell did a great job with the new Bond in Daniel Craig. But it was driven by the script and an understanding of those essential elements that originally made Bond franchisable: strong stories and James Bond as a suave but brutally efficient and resourceful secret agent, whose personality (sex appeal, sense of humour, etc) was of great appeal to audiences.

Quantum of Solace does not live up to those expectations, losing the sense of all the unique Bond elements, including James himself, who no longer tosses off darkly comic lines and doesn't even know what martini he's drinking. Daniel Craig is still excellent but he's no longer a Bond figure; he's an action man who could come from any action franchise. His superior fighting skills and inventive escapes from scrapes are all buried in a visual style that scrambles the images. We hear there's a fight, and we see bodies tumbling, walls crashing and objects flying, but we still have no sense of the real space in which the fights are taking place.

Boasting lots of locations, the film doesn't do justice to any of them, notably the fabulous staging of Puccini's Tosca on an outdoor stage in Austria. Likewise, the exciting annual horse race in the town square of Siena is a mere sideshow and shot as if the handheld camera was being passed around the crew for a different view.

Bond is in morose mood, which I guess is justified by his grief over the loss of Vesper in Casino Royale. But this does the film no good. As if this wasn't a big enough burden, the story is stuffed into a fashionable topic, beefed into relevance by making the baddie an environmentally opportunistic thief on a grand scale. Mathieu Almaric is a nicely creepy Dominic Greene, though.

Judi Dench is even better than before, working up a detailed and complex M with plenty going on; Dench can deliver a simple line and give it a mountain of meaning. She's the most enjoyable aspect of this movie, even though Olga Kurylenko does a terrific job as the woman with a mission. Gemma Arterton, the obligatory Bond girl, also impresses in a cameo, and Joaquin Cosio makes a formidable General Medrano. But let's get back to the real Bond next time please. The primary appeal of the James Bond franchise is James Bond - the character. That's the point of differentiation with other actioners.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

DANIEL CRAIG INTERVIEW

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (UK/USA, 2008)
(M)

CAST: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, Stana Katic, Giancarlo Giannini, Jesper Christensen, Neil Jackson, Oona Chaplin

PRODUCER: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson

DIRECTOR: Marc Forster

SCRIPT: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (Characters by Ian Fleming)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roberto Schaefer

EDITOR: Matt Chesse, Richard Pearson

MUSIC: David Arnold

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dennis Gassner

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 19, 2008







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