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Vol. LXII, No. 46
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

HE’S BACK AND THERE’S GONNA BE TROUBLE: The latest installment of the 007 series of films features Daniel Craig, whose shadow is seen here, as the intrepid James Bond who has gotten into trouble this time because of what happened to his girlfriend in the previous film “Casino Royale.”

Quantum of Solace: Daniel Craig, Back Again as 007 in Revenge Seeking Thriller

Kam Williams

There’s something decidedly un-James Bondish about Daniel Craig as 007. Perhaps it has to do with how his unassuming earthiness contrasts with the patrician pretensions of his predecessors such as Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and especially Sean Connery. Be that as it may, Craig is back in an action oriented globe trotting adventure that is apt to disappoint fans who are expecting to see the suave spy’s sophisticated demeanor.

For instance, instead of the playboy’s trademark parade of beautiful women, this film finds him obsessed with trying to figure out why, in the movie Casino Royale, he had been betrayed by Vesper (Eva Green), his deceased love interest from that film. In fact, Bond becomes so involved in this endeavor that he roughs up as many good guys as bad.

This behavior frustrates M (Dame Judi Dench), the director of the British Secret Service, who tells him “I think you’re so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don’t care who you hurt.” Then, when James continues to behave irresponsibly, his boss cancels his passport and credit cards, strips him of his license to kill, and summarily calls him in from the proverbial cold, because, “When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go.”

As a result, in this film Bond is a rogue agent who operates without the benefit of access to the futuristic firearms, armored sports car, and other state-of-the-art accoutrements ordinarily provided by M16’s genius inventor, Q, a beloved character who is conspicuous by his absence. Quantum of Solace does offer about double the amount of gun play, fisticuffs, foot chases, and pyrotechnics; plus all of the automobile, motorcycle, airplane, and speedboat derring-do scenes of the typical 007 picture. The problem is that the movie no longer feels like a Bond film. Instead, it is similar to a Jason Bourne film with its non-stop stunts and its protagonist’s unflappable and inscrutable demeanor.

What does remain intact is Bond’s familiar mission to save the planet from a diabolical villain who is bent on world domination. In this case, the enemy is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) whose benignly named Greene Planet Corporation has, for some reason, been quietly acquiring ecological preserves around the planet.

Our hero, 007, discovers that Greene is a member of Quantum, the shadowy brotherhood of thieves who were implicated in the death of Vesper. Thus, the answer to the reason for her suicide conveniently dovetails with cracking the case. Along the way to finding the answers to his obsession, Bond encounters two seductive temptresses: Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) and Camille (Olga Kurylenko). But Bond is far too consumed with his mission to pause for anything more than a perfunctory appreciation of their pulchritude.

Unfortunately, Bond the bon vivant and charming ladies man, who would flirt with Ms. Moneypenny and any other woman, is nowhere to be found. For a film that is woefully underdeveloped, except for the array of exotic backdrops and the displays of fighting skills, this incarnation of 007 is too busy taking on wave after wave of impersonal adversaries to indulge in romance or the subtleties of espionage.

Good (two stars). PG-13 for sexuality, violence, and intense action sequences. Running time: 106 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

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