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James Bond returns with no stir
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By Pang Li
China.org.cn columnist

A poster of Quantum of Solace

A poster of Quantum of Solace

The British superspy, James Bond has returned to the big screen once more in Quantum of Solace, a direct sequel to the highly-acclaimed Casino Royale which, released in late 2006, is widely viewed as having revitalized the James Bond franchise.

Daniel Craig as Bond is still charming, more charming than any of his predecessors, I believe. But Quantum, the movie I was most looking forward to in 2008, is something of a letdown.

As an action flick, the movie is tense and packed with lots of stunts. But none of the individual action scenes make a big impression. After the huge success of the Bourne trilogy, the espionage genre has begun to follow in Bourne's footsteps and embrace realism. The world's most famous spy is no exception.

In Casino Royale, the spy threw away some of his trademark symbols such as hi-tech cars and multi-function gadgets. He was involved in realistic fights and breathtaking chases, like the free running sequences as he pursues a bomb maker. The Bond franchise began to take a new direction.

Marc Foster, the director of Quantum of Solace said he would push James Bond further down this path. But one thing I was already worried about after watching Casino Royale is actually happening – Bond seems to be losing his identity. In Quantum of Solace, some of the action scenes look too familiar to me, especially the one where Bond chases an MI6 mole over roofs and balconies. Doesn't Jason Bourne do that in the Bourne Ultimatum? Yes, but much more impressively than Bond does.

What's more interesting, the guy who never took women seriously suffers tremendous agony after losing his lover, Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green in Casino Royale). He stares moodily at her picture and gets drunk. He seems to lose interest in the gorgeous girls around him. He seeks revenge so earnestly that it becomes a great concern to his superiors, and M (played by Judi Dench) warns him "I think you are so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don't care who you hurt." He does not even speak his symbolic lines: "Shaken, not stirred", "The name is Bond, James Bond." Come on! Is this the real James Bond? I don't think so.

A still from Quantum of Solace

A still from Quantum of Solace

The big villain, played by French actor Mathieu Amalric is not convincing either. I expected a much darker string puller, a character like the Joker in The Dark Knight, or a drug lord-type character. But the bad guy turns out to be head of a high tech company who tries to gain control of water resources in a nameless Latin American country by overthrowing the government and manipulating his contacts with the CIA and British government. It all seems far fetched and there is no explanation of the background of the company or its head, Dominic Greene.

All these flaws, however, do not mean Quantum is a bad movie. It is tense and action-packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Action fans should not miss it. In addition, Daniel Craig won't disappoint you in his second outing as James Bond. I am convinced that Mr. Craig is absolutely the right choice for this role, and he is even more charming than in Casino Royale. If the screenplay had been better, Mr. Craig would have had more room to explore his character. As things stand however, I was pleased to see more interaction between Judi Dench and Mr. Craig, and M's image is more fully developed than in the previous movie.

(China.org.cn November 7, 2008)

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James Bond returns with no stir
The tense and action-packed 22nd James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, though not so good as Casino Royale, is fun to watch.
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