Blond Bond is back

JAMES BOND returns more cynical than ever in Quantum Of Solace, the second film in the franchise to star Daniel Craig. Somewhat unusually for a Bond movie, Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel, beginning almost immediately after the events of Casino Royale.

An odd but satisfying combination of sharp political asides and the requisite car, boat, and even airline chase scenes, Quantum Of Solace has all the ingredients of the classic Bond film with a few surprises, such as a decent script and good performances, thrown in.

The film begins predictably enough with a fast and furious car chase in a suitably idyllic location, with unknown people in frantic pursuit of Bond through a series of tunnels and impossible laneways. Once Bond has (inevitably ) shaken off his pursuers, he removes a breathing body from the trunk of his car, taking him to an underground interrogation chamber where M (Judi Dench ) is waiting.

It emerges their prisoner works with the organisation which blackmailed Bond’s murdered lover Vesper in Casino Royale. The prisoner suggests the organisation is more comprehensive and powerful than previously suspected.

M, witnessing Bond’s increasing proclivity to kill off all possible sources, is concerned he seeks revenge for Vesper’s death. An investigation into the mysterious organisation, called Quantum, brings Bond closer to the man who caused Vesper’s betrayal and to fulfilling any unarticulated desires for retaliation.

Working for the organisation is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric ), an entrepreneurial environmentalist who strikes lucrative deals with the highest bidder in exchange for the rights to isolated tracts of land in South America. In the company of the secretive Camille (Olga Kurylenko ), Bond attempts to discover the nature of the deals Quantum is making with the US and British governments. Meanwhile, of course, Greene and his cohorts simply want Bond dead.

Following the storyline requires a keen memory of the events of Casino Royale. However, the levels of deep political and economic connections across governments should keep any conspiracy theorist happy. For everyone else, there are action sequences galore. In addition to the myriad chase scenes, there is a balletic shoot-out at an astounding Austrian opera house and a dramatic resolution of Camille’s own vendetta, which arises from her childhood.

The script, in detailing a plot involving massive international corruption, repeatedly gets in sly, timely jibes about US foreign policy. Co-written by Paul Haggis, who scripted and directed the Oscar winning Crash in 2004, the script is witty and sharply observational.

Craig continues to grow into Bond, investing him with a darker secrecy than his suave, eyebrow raising predecessor Pierce Brosnan. It is easier to believe that Craig’s Bond could turn rogue, which lends greater tension to the film.

Camille’s character also has a dark secret which in turn makes her character more interesting than the standard Bond female sidekick. The excellent Jeffrey Wright provides superb, understated support as a jaded CIA agent.

The addition of a lively, mostly well written script and deeper character development, alongside all the explosions, results in a better than average Bond sequel, which oddly will not be released in the US for another week.

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