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Quantum of Solace



Rating: * * * *

Verdict: Daniel Craig's second Bond film plants its foot and keeps it there.

For all its success reinventing the idea of 007, Casino Royale wasn't exactly an all-out thrillfest. Sure, there was the opening foot-chase which established the new guy as athletic, ruthless and a little too spontaneous for his boss' liking.

But it had some dull spots too. And when Bond defibrillated himself in his fully-optioned Aston Martin during that long, tension-free poker game, it also said something about the film's stop-start momentum.

Its sequel - and this is very much Casino II, rather than the amnesiac new adventure of the previous 21 Bondflicks - has no such problem.

It starts at a fair clip, roaring away from the mess left at the end of Casino in a hail of gunfire and clouds of burnt tyre-rubber.

It barely pauses for a spot of interrogation and the requisite dressing-down from Judi Dench's M before, like its predecessor, it's soon finding Italian building codes wanting, as our hero makes another mad dash of demolition.

That's just the start of a jetsetting trail from Italy to Britain to Haiti to Austria to Bolivia as 007 combines his personal and professional missions - avenging the death of his beloved Vesper while on the hunt for a shadowy organisation which has penetrated the security of MI6.

But like last time, he needs the help of a good woman - Camille (a steely Kurylenko) might be the designated Bond-girl, but like Vesper in the last one she's there to make Bond a little more human and watch his back. She's got her own revenge plans involving a would-be South American dictator and has a helpful connection to Monsieur Greene (a lizardly Amalric), the baddie of the piece.

Add a plot pivoting on the world's next looming natural resource flashpoint after oil, and Mr Greene's front as an eco-business guru, and Quantum feels more contemporary than its predecessor.

It delivers a diverting line in geography and ecology but it's Quantum's physics that make it the faster, higher-flying second-stage rocket of Casino's launch vehicle. If anything, it's all over a bit fast - it's one of the shortest 007 films ever - and longtime fans might be disappointed by how much Bond-lore it's jettisoned: The only Q on offer here is the one in the title; gadget, car and tipple-wise the film fair groans under the weight of product placement, though its major visual reference to Bond history is neatly executed.

It might lack the character notes of its predecessor and Craig's chemistry with Kurylenko is no match for his match-up with Eva Green in Casino.

But QoS is a movie that, like its hero, exudes ruthless style. It really has only one aim - a view to a thrill. Mission accomplished.

Do carry on, 007, there's a good man.

Russell Baillie

Cast: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko

Director: Marc Forster

Rating: M (violence)

Running time: 106 mins

Screening: SkyCity, Hoyts, Berkeley cinemas


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