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PCR #451 (Vol. 9, No. 46) This edition is for the week of November 10--16, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Quantum of Solace"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Quantum of Solace"  by Mike Smith
DVD Review: "Stanley: Special Edition"  by ED Tucker
FANGRRL Goes To The Tampa Comic Book & Toy Convention  by Lisa Ciurro
Sorry Folks .... .... ....  by Matt Drinnenberg
Wednesday??? .... Is Chris Rock Going To Be Mr. Myagi? .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... And The Oscar Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Jeffrey Wright and Judi Dench
Directed by: Marc Forster
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 46 mins

It’s very hard to top greatness. If you are successful, you will always be compared to what put you on the map, usually in a negative way. “Bad” is a great Michael Jackson album. But it was no “Thriller.” As many great films as Francis Ford Coppola made after “The Godfather” (“The Conversation,” “Apocalypse Now”), they were never judged to be as good, though I’d have to make a case that “The Godfather Part II” is every bit as good, if not better. And though the James Bond film series went from the classic (Sean Connery) to the ridiculous (the later Roger Moore films) to the serious (Timothy Dalton) to a combination of all three (Pierce Brosnan) no Bond fan could have ever expected the instant classic that was Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale.” I offer this here because, despite all good intentions, “Quantum of Solace” is no “Casino Royale.”

When we last saw James Bond (Craig) he had just delivered the mysterious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to his superiors for interrogation. The first true Bond sequel, “Quantum of Solace” opens shortly afterwards, with a spectacular opening car chase through underground tunnels and around precarious mountain roads. It is soon learned that there is a rogue agent in Bond’s MI6 organization, one controlled by a criminal syndicate that calls itself Quantum. Still mourning the loss of his love, Vesper, Bond must put aside his quest for revenge, a task his superior, M (Dench), believes him to be incapable of.

First the good news. Craig continues to grow as Bond before our eyes. He’s still a long way from the suave super spy of the past (or, now, of the future) and watching this progression is a treat. He still lives by his wits and his fists. No fancy gadgets (sorry “Q” fans). No shaken, not stirred, martinis. Not even an introductory “Bond….James Bond.” As Craig continues in the role these things will surely come and it will be a treat when these Bond-isms finally make their appearance. The rest of the cast is equally good, with Amalric a fine villain in the best sense. No eye patch. No cat. No metal teeth. Just a cool character with a black heart intent on taking over the world. Or at least an important part of it. As Felix Leiter, Bond’s American C.I.A. counterpart, Jeffrey Wright also continues to gain comfort in the role. The character has been a Bond staple since Jack Lord played him in “Dr. No,” and it will be a treat to see Craig and Wright build their onscreen friendship in future films. A subplot with Bond helping a beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko) seek revenge on the rogue dictator that killed her family gives the series another first….a female partner that Bond doesn’t hook up with.

Now the bad news. The plot is all over the map. Literally. Every 20 minutes the action is in a different country. And the whole “revenge” subplot smacks a lot of the Timothy Dalton Bond film “License to Kill,” though there Bond was out to avenge his friend Felix. Especially when you add in Kurylenko also bent on revenge, you could have called this film “Quantum of Revenge.” I may be nit picky here, but I expect more of a story from co-writer Paul Haggis, who not only helped write “Casino Royale” but has given us “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash” and “Flags of Our Fathers.” That being said, technically the film stands out, especially in the action scenes. Even the song over the main credits, “Another Way To Die,” is pretty good. Special thanks to the producers for not asking Jack White to try to rhyme “Quantum of Solace.”

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Quantum of Solace”

This week's movie review of "Quantum of Solace" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.