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Movie Review: Quantum of Solace
Doorless cars never really caught on, did they? | Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures
The real stars of Quantum of Solace aren't Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko, but stunt coordinator Gary Powell and his army of crack stunt performers. From the thrilling opening car chase along narrow mountain roads to the explosive and fiery conclusion in the desert, rarely does so much as five minutes pass before yet another huge spectacle is splashed across the screen. That none of the film's many action sequences ever seem rote or dull is a true testament to the ingenuity and daring of Powell and his team.
As Solace opens we find Bond still conflicted about the events covered in Casino Royale, namely the death of his lover, Vesper. At Royale's conclusion, Bond had finally captured the elusive Mr. White and Solace begins with his savage questioning. It is an interrogation that goes quickly wrong, though, as one of White's sleeper MI-6 agents turns rogue in a flash and begins blasting away. What follows is an exhausting dash across the rooftops of Sienna that ends in a spectacular fight twisted in ropes atop a collapsing scaffold.
Wait a minute! Is that a stuntman? | Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Bond--to M's outrage--ends up killing the rogue agent, thus depriving MI-6 of the only witness they had with information about Mr. White's spectral organization, Quantum. From that point the film proper begins--Bond goes out on his own to figure out what Mr. White's organization is, who is in it and what it all has to do with Vesper's death. Along the way, there are many of the familiar Bond elements--the seduction of an initially cold but ultimately kittenish young woman, great clothes, crunching fights and daring escapes.
Missing, curiously enough, is Bond's signature phrase, "Bond. James Bond." but there is a funny deconstruction of Bond's standard adult beverage and a clever homage to Goldfinger. What the film has in large supply--as mentioned above--is stunts, stunts, stunts galore. In the age of CGI, it's great to see visual effects that in large part seem to be practical effects (though obviously smoothed over with computerized aid). Along with the new Bourne films, the reboot of the Bond series feels wonderfully, gloriously real.
While the visual canvas of the film is indeed sumptuous, other aspects of the film are a bit neglected. Daniel Craig is again great as Bond (Is he maybe better than Connery? I think so). Judy Dench and Giancarlo Giannini are also both fantastic as gruff old warriors in a long fight, but Olga Kurylenko--while lovely--lacks the spirit and strength of Eva Green in Royale and even the usually reliable Mathieu Amalric feels more wormy than evil as Bond's chief foil. As for the plot--does anyone really care about Bond plots?
Taken as a sum, though, a ticket to Quantum of Solace is definitely worth the price. In recent years the Bourne films have ratcheted up the intensity and craft needed to succeed as a spy film and Solace reaches and exceeds that standard. While it may fall short of the high mark set by Casino Royale, it is a feast for the eyes and Daniel Craig's Bond is a true bad ass for the ages.