‘Quantum of Solace’

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By Stephanie Holland

Daniel Craig and Mathieu Amalric in Quantum of Solace. (Sony Pictures)

By Stephanie Holland

Every actor that wears the tux brings one special characteristic to playing James Bond. Sean Connery provided sex appeal. Roger Moore added the sophistication, Pierce Brosnan made 007 cool for a new generation and Daniel Craig gives us the heart of James Bond.

“Quantum of Solace” picks up where 2006’s “Casino Royale” left off, with the world’s most famous spy trailing the mysterious group who killed the woman he loved.

Simply put this is one of the best Bond movies in a long time.

From the first action-packed moments to the touching final scene, it keeps the audience completely engrossed in the world of espionage and intrigue.

The film opens with Bond driving his signature Aston-Martin in a high speed chase through Italy. This scene sets the pace for what the audience will see for the rest of the movie.

Though this film has everything you’ve come to expect from a Bond movie, gorgeous women, cool gadgets and lots of action, it rises or falls based on Craig’s performance, and he delivers.

Craig is able to make the audience feel the conflicted emotions that Bond is dealing with as he wants revenge for Vesper Lynd’s death but he also has a duty to fulfill.

Craig’s ability to reconcile Bond’s thirst for vengeance with the completion of the mission at hand gives the audience one of the best portrayals the character ever.

Let’s be honest, it also helps that he looks great in a tux and has that trademark charm.

While it is essentially a one man show, there is a great supporting cast. Dame Judi Dench plays M, the head of MI6 who has the unenviable task of trying to reel Bond in.

It comes as no surprise that Dench is thoroughly enjoyable, as she could read the phone book and add the appropriate gravitas.

In this role, it is how understated she portrays the character that is riveting every time she’s on screen. Dench portrays M as part den mother, part CEO and she never lets the viewer forget who’s in charge.

Her chemistry with Craig allows the audience to discover a previously unseen aspect to Bond.

Also reprising the part of Mathis from “Royale” is acclaimed Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini. Mathis was wrongly accused of being a bad guy last time out, so it would be understandable if he was a little bitter this time. However, Giannini plays him as an elder statesman of the spy business who teaches Bond a few important lessons.

Craig’s ability to hold his own in scenes with actors of this caliber prove that his has skills that go far beyond 007.

It would not be a Bond film without Bond girls and “Solace” doesn’t disappoint. Breaking the mold of Bond girls who need to be rescued is Olga Kurylenko.

She plays Camille a woman with an agenda that just happens to coincide with Bond’s mission. Camille is a fighter who uses her brains and beauty to help Bond track down the criminals.

Gemma Arterton is Strawberry Fields, an MI6 agent who is used to remind longtime fans of past Bond girls. She is a smart cookie who like so many before her, can’t resist Bond’s charms.

The only weak link of the film is the villain Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Almalric. Greene is a secondary villain to the real bad guys, the Quantum organization.

Even though he’s wielding an axe, Greene’s girlish screams while fighting Bond don’t instill a lot of confidence in his evil abilities.

Bond spends most of the film chasing down leads and the killing them just so he can find out who is behind the enigmatic group.

Separately all these elements are enjoyable, but put together they create a great Bond movie.

“Quantum of Solace” is a perfect mixture of everything that has made James Bond a classic character for years and all the new additions that have given the franchise a new energy.

Craig is establishing himself as the 21st century Bond, a man who can fall in love, beat up the bad guys and still be the coolest guy in the room the whole time.

Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko star in Quantum of Solace. (Sony Pictures)

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