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UK 2008
Directed by
Marc Forster
106 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Chris Thompson
1.5 stars

Quantum Of Solace

Synopsis: Following the death of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), James Bond (Daniel Craig) seeks revenge on the elusive Mr White (Jesper Christensen) and his international organisation that blackmailed her into betraying him. His mission leads him to South America where he meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko) and through her, the ruthless, duplicitous businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a key player in the organisation he seeks. As Bond pursues Greene and his plan to gain total control of a vital natural resource, he also discovers that Camille has a mission of her own.

Marc Forster is a good director, coming to his first Bond experience after two very fine films; Finding Neverland 2004) and The Kite Runner (2007). Screenwriter, Paul Haggis had recently been responsible for the estimable Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Crash (2004) and was one of the pens behind this film’s predecessor, Casino Royale (2006). Lead villain, Mathieu Amalric, was still garnering praise for his exceptional performance in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007). With a pedigree like that, what could go wrong? A lot, it seems.

The film starts well enough; in fact, it picks up immediately after Bond’s confrontation with Mr White in the finale of Casino Royale. It has a thrilling car chase that seems to rely more on old-school stunt driving than CGI and a great opening song, "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys. But, after the interrogation room set up where we learn that White is not so much head honcho as one cog in a large machine, the story quickly descends into a muddle of who trusts who, who doesn’t trust who, and who is deceiving who to what end.  Bond’s special relationship with M (Dame Judi Dench) continues to tread a fine line between him being the naughtiest boy in the class and the teacher’s pet. Bond’s other ally, the taciturn CIA agent, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), is also back playing both sides against the middle. As in the previous film, he does a lot of sitting around brooding while Bond gets all the action. There’s even a return appearance of Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) with some clumsy exposition to explain why he wasn’t really the bad guy he was portrayed as in the previous film.

In essence, this is a revenge story that tries to go a little deeper into the psychology of Bond and, through Camille, offers him a kind of mirror in which he can catch a glimpse of the emptiness that revenge will leave him with. As Mathis says to him, “You must forgive Vesper. You must forgive yourself.” The film moves both inexorably and incomprehensibly towards the inevitable whiz-bang explosive destruction of the villain’s lair at the end of the film which, whilst spectacular, feels more like the ‘blow it all up’ finales from the Bonds of old than the more suspenseful and narratively driven destruction we saw at the end of Casino Royale.  We’re left with a hasty attempt to explain the title (Is Quantum the name of the secret organisation? I’m still not clear on that) and a neat little exit for the villain before an epilogue that brings the Vesper Lynd story to a close and allows Bond to do a bit of growing up in the process.

At under two hours, the film is short enough and yet it still seems to drag in the middle. Given that it really only amounts to the first ten minutes and the last five that close the door that was left open in Casino Royale, it would almost be better to hived off those scenes and add them onto the previous film and file the redundant rest of Quantum of Solace in a draw marked "For Desperate Eyes Only".




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