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Quantum of Solace

Purists may not be happy with the edgier action vibe; this one might as well have been titled The Bond Identity.

reviewed by Mark Burns

Forget the shaker. The martini is headed straight for the blender in this, the most aggressive installment of the 22 Bond films.

James Bond (Daniel Craig: The Golden Compass) is dour. Not only does the loss of his love interest still stab at him, but also a new world domination outfit (Quantum) has just seared a hole in the cloak of MI6. So with M attacked and a debt of revenge still unpaid, he plunges fists flailing into the fray. In so doing, Bond isolates himself from a distrustful British government as he plows through enemies and tools of the corrupt in a quest to unveil and take down Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric: Munich), a would-be eco-hero masterminding the plunder of Bolivia.

The modernization of Bond continues its gritty course following the smart film series reboot Casino Royale. As before, Bond’s early days as an agent of MI6 are defined by fast, bold stunts and a decidedly more rough-and-tumble brand of ass-kickery. It’s more cynical, too: The muddling of good/evil casts a dire mood over this typically escapist brand.

Through all this modern peril, director Marc Forster (The Kite Runner) maintains action as his constant focus. The movie feeds on it, but story does suffer for the emphasis on boom. There’s little sleuth to the subterfuge as a vengeful Bond forges ahead with a shoot-first approach.

If abbreviated, the story is at least enough to carry the action and chart an interesting evolution for Bond’s character. Craig cements himself as the third-best Bond of six (to Sean Connery and Roger Moore), delivering a Bond trying to come to terms with his past while establishing himself as the legend he is to become. Per her usual, Judi Dench classes it up in her turn as M.

Purists may not be happy with the edgier action vibe; it’s true this one might as well have been titled The Bond Identity. Forster could certainly have done much better by the material. And the theme song stinks (even speaking as a Jack White fan). But even as the film strays a bit, there’s enough Fleming in the mix to merit 007 status.

Good action adventure • PG-13 • 106 mins.

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