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Quantum of Solace

(originally posted in slightly different form by Jamie Kelwick at his own site -- www.the-usher.com.)

In 2006 the most successful action franchise in movie history started again with a new lead actor and a new approach. The man who had made some of the most financially successful films of the series, Pierce Brosnan, had been replaced by a younger, rougher character actor in the shape of Daniel Craig while the franchise returned to the start of the British agent's career with an adaptation of Ian Fleming's first novel Casino Royale.

But this was a very different James Bond than fans were used to. In what was considered a response to the success of the 'Bourne' movies, which approached the spy genre with a vivid realism that did away with the slightly over the top style of the Brosnan era, Casino Royale injected realism into Bond, meaning the gadgets, the over the top villains and grandiose lairs had to go. The fans' response was positive, but can a second adventure in this style still appease them?

For the first time in the series, this is a direct sequel to the previous Bond movie. Quantum of Solace picks up just after Bond, James Bond, had announced himself to Mr. White and flows into a relentless hunt by Bond to find the people behind Vesper Lynds' betrayal. With the Government thinking he has gone rogue and the CIA seeing him as a hindrance to their interests in Bolivia, Bond has to call on some old and new allies to help him discover who is pulling the strings.

This challenging, driven approach to storytelling pushes a very serious Bond and one that is still very different from the man created by Sean Connery, Brosnan and especially Roger Moore, which might not go down well with fans who hoped that Daniel Craig's second adventure would introduce a few more familiar aspects from the franchise.

With no Q branch, Miss Moneypenny and most importantly humour, this is another darker approach to Bond. Daniel Craig's 007 is still learning his trade and because this is a continuation of the storyline set up in Casino Royale, we are still seeing Bond become a 00.

What Quantum of Solace does is show Bond becoming much more than a blunt instrument and this gives Daniel Craig the chance to show a deeper side to the noticeably hurt Bond, after the betrayal of Vesper. You can see the growth in the character and the maturity shown by Craig throughout the film and into its finale, defining Bond and showing his development into the secret agent we know.

While Bond's development is clear, the development of the mysterious organisation behind Mr. White, Le Chiffre and Dominic Green seems to take a backseat to Bond's growth. While this is all well and good, with it being obvious that this is going to be covered in later movies as part of the continuing story, it does leave you with too many questions unanswered after two movies. It functions much the same as the introduction of SPECTRE during the Connery era, but at a lot slower pace. The main reason for this is the inclusion of some many action scenes.

The action sequences come quick and fast throughout the duration of the movie to the detriment of the advancement of the story. With chase sequence following chase sequence, the action is relentless, with Daniel Craig excelling and revelling in doing most of his own stunts.

With producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson employing the stunt team responsible for the 'Bourne' franchise, this is another change for Bond, with the action and visual style now been very reminiscent of the Matt Damon movies, which isn't always a bad thing but in some cases the closeness of the camera doesn't give the action as big as an impact as it could have.

With Daniel Craig excelling again as James Bond, his supporting cast have to be up to the same high level. Dame Judi Dench returns as M, with another fine performance as the MI6 boss with difficult decisions to make. Jeffrey Wright is also back as Felix Leiter, having a slightly bigger role but still not fulfilling the character's potential.

Quantum of Solace also has two Bond girls, one played by up and coming British starlet Gemma Atherton and the other played by Olga Kurylenko. Atherton's role is the smaller one, as consulate officer Ms. Fields, who makes an impression on Bond. It is Olga Kurylenko who plays a very different Bond girl and one that might just not end up in 007's bed. She is an up and coming actress who made a big impact with her appearance in Hitman and now, with Camille she has created a character that helps Bond in his own growth and could be just as influential as Vesper.

Mathieu Amalric's performance as environmental industrialist Dominic Green, who has another more sinister agenda, is one that needed a little more screen time to be more effective but he is still a decent villain to push the story along.

Quantum of Solace develops the story of what makes James Bond a 00. While some fans will still lament the lack of the gadgets, Q, Moneypenny and the one-liners that they loved during the Moore and Brosnan eras, this is the Bond that Ian Fleming created and one that is becoming the ultimate secret agent.

Jamie Kelwick

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