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Posted: November 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Solace satisfactory

Sony Pictures/

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Camille (Olga Kurylenko) trek across the Bolivian desert.

With 2006’s "Casino Royale," filmmakers set a new gold standard for not only James Bond films, but the entire espionage genre. Though "Quantum of Solace" does not quite live up to its predecessor, it is none the less a fine second chapter for the new, darker Bond.

In a first for the four-decade old franchise, "Solace" is a direct sequel and as such, picks up mere moments after end of "Royale." After an exhilarating high speed car chase over narrow Italian mountain roads, Bond (Daniel Craig) delivers the devious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to be interrogated by M (Judi Dench). The interrogation reveals the first glimpse of what Bond is up against. White speaks very cryptically of his organization that has "people everywhere." The scene serves as only a brief respite from the high octane action as Bond is soon chasing a sleeper agent across rooftops, through crowds and finally into a church under construction.

In these first scenes, it soon becomes apparent that Bond has reverted back to the blunt instrument seen in the first half of "Royale." Instead of merely injuring the host of baddies attempting to kill or flee from him, Bond dispatches them left and right. This style soon infuriates M, who begins to wonder if Bond is up for the job.

With the help of fellow MI6 agents, Bond is able to pick up the trail in Haiti where he meets the feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko). Beautiful and deadly, Camille has her own agenda which inadvertently leads Bond to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a philanthropic environmentalist who covertly specializes in placing new regimes in third world countries.

Bond spends the rest of the film deducing Greene’s ultimate plan while seeking revenge for the death of Vesper, his love from "Royale." Along the way the audience is treated to variety of action set pieces including both a boat and airplane chase and an explosive shootout at a Bolivian desert resort.

Die-hard Bond fans will complain "Solace" lacks several of the trademark catchphrases and the usual deluge of sexual innuendoes, but those standards would not easily fit in the world and tone that was created in "Royale." The Bond in "Solace" is a hurt soul still dealing with the loss of his first and only real love. To have him casually sleeping with every woman in the movie and throwing out too many smarmy quips would have undermined the character.

As in "Royale," the principle cast is superb. Craig has redefined who Bond is as a character and what the audience should expect in future installments. Returning cast members Dench, Jeffrey Wright and Giancarlo Giannini are terrific as usual while new arrivals Kurylenko and Amalric are only so-so. First time Bond director Marc Forster has moments of brilliance that are unfortunately offset by some questionable decisions. At times, particularly the first few chase scenes, the editing to closely resembles that of the frantic Bourne movies.

"Solace" is a good sequel to a great movie. Like many second movies in a film franchise, "Solace" is a dark chapter should lead into a happier third act that will satisfy both Bond purists and causal fans alike.

 

Grade: A-
This movie is 106 minutes long and rated PG-13 for intense scenes of violence and action, and some sexual content.

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