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Quantum of Solace

After Daniel Craig's brilliant debut as OO7 in "Casino Royale", QUANTUM OF SOLACE served up one of the most disappointing, muddled adventures in the entire Bond series.

Developed during a writer's strike, it does often feel like they've made this adventure up as they went along. Craig has said that they did create much of the story on the fly after filming had started.

The film also suffers greatly from the hand of Director Marc Forster (A Man Called Otto) and his expressed desire to create a non-Bond movie.

Great, just what we're all looking for.

The direction and editing is so manic that all the action sequences are rendered senseless and frustrating. By pulling the camera back and having any cut last longer than a tenth of a second, we might have been wowed by the action that's taking place, but it's all sacrificed in rapid cuts blurs.

Consider the opening car chase sequence. It could have been amazing and glimpses of it are, but Forster is so committed to cutting to the next angle that everything is lost but the sound and the fury.

Compounding the problem, the opening titles are set to a finger-nails-on-a-chalkboard title song by Jack White & Alicia Keys. Forster must have sat down and said, "let's create the opposite of every Bond theme, something so unpleasant that it will never be listened to again in any context." Mission accomplished. It's horrible and the title sequence is visually a step down from "Casino" as well.

A mid-film sequence with Bond tracking down the secret organization Quantum at an opera house features a post-performance gun battle in a restaurant. I think. Forster even washes out all the sound in that sequence.

Is this an episode of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" or a James Bond movie?

Daniel Craig is in great form, looking very young compared to the most recent entrees. Craig's Bond is a lethal killing machine, with M (Judi Dench, great as always) constantly reminding him how much easier investigations would be if he didn't kill every suspect.

There's a powerful moment after OO7's trailed a suspect to Haiti that breaks out in a lethal fight to the death, spilling out onto a patio. Bond kills the man with two lethal jabs of jagged glass and then cradles him as the man bleeds out. With casual glances over the patio to make sure no one's watching and a hold that shows respect for his dying opponent, it's as tough and deadly as Bond's ever been in the series.

In contrast, the villains have rarely been this weak in any Bond film.

The main baddie is a French industrialist stealing water. Ooooooh. Evil.

Mathieu Amalric plays him with such a lack of intensity that I'd be more afraid he was going to chastise me for ordering the wrong cheese than I would be scared of his plans for world domination.

Olga Kurylenko is very good as Camille, outstanding in an underwritten role inspired (knocked off?) by Carole Bouquet's revenge minded Melina in "For Your Eyes Only".

Poor Gemma Arterton is saddled playing a field office operative names Strawberry Fields who ends up splayed across Bond's bed covered in gold, oh wait, I meant oil. Death by gold was inventive when it happened on "Goldfinger" in 1964. Decades later, it's a sad nod to earlier, better OO7 adventures.

Jeffrey Wright is excellent as Felix Leiter, as is Giancarlo Giannini returning as Rene Mathis from "Casino Royale". In their moments with Craig, the film comes to life. Briefly, but it has a pulse.

The large-scale action sequence conclusion is fair, but Craig's final scenes here are better, setting up the next, best film in the entire series, "Skyfall".

Wallowing alongside "Moonraker" in the trash heap of James Bond films, QUANTUM gets a D.

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