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The QUANTUM OF SOLACE love train continues. Capone is quite fond of it!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Is it November already? Then it must be time to kick some ass. I wish I could show you the film titles I'm seeing in the month of November. Since the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards deadline is very early in December, any studio wanting their film to be considered has to show us their goods in the next three weeks. And in my estimation there are a couple of films that are released this week that might just land in my Best of 2008 rundown, and how could I not consider the sequel to possibly the finest James Bond film ever made. In case you've been living in the wilderness for the last year, the latest 007 adventure is actually a worthy continuation of the CASINO ROYALE plot, picking up about 10 minutes after Bond (still Daniel Craig, still the finest actor to ever play the role) has disabled Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) at a villa in Italy. Bond is still hurting something fierce after the death of his love Vesper, and while he won't admit it, he's looking for payback, which may not be as easy as this still relatively green spy realizes. In this newly rebooting Bond world, this is the first film in which Mi6 begins to realize just how insecure its own organization has become and how all-encompassing a new-to-them global criminal organization truly is. A couple things you're going to notice about QUANTUM OF SOLACE (look up the many definitions of the world "quantum" to see that this title is actually quite appropriate) upon your first of many viewings. It's a lot shorter than all other Bond films--with credits, it runs about 105 minutes. The only reason I mention this is to say that watching the film, I would not have minded if it had run longer in an effort to explore the more emotional side to Bond. Not that QUANUM doesn't touch on this; it does for sure. I'm just greedy. What we do get are a half-dozen or so of the finest action sequences committed to film in a very long time, everything from hand-to-hand combat, foot chases, car chases, speedboat chases, airplane hijinks, you name it. The movie is practically wall to wall action, with just enough time in between to meet a host of new good and bad characters and reunite with a few old friends. Although not quite as nasty as Le Chiffre in CASINO ROYALE, Dominic Greene (played by French superstar Mathieu Amalric, best known for playing the lead in last year's THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY and a memorable supporting part in Spielberg's Munich) is still pretty great as a mover and shaker who seems to be buying up large quantities of worthless land, particularly in South America. Bond and M (Judi Dench, who is blessedly featured a great deal more in this film) believe Greene is looking for oil. The also know for a fact that that he's a major player in the mysterious evil organization. Also new to this film is Camille (Olga Kurylenko, recently featured in Max Payne), a vengeance-filled beauty who had ulterior motives for allowing Greene to sleep with her. As for old friends, I was particularly delighted to see Jeffrey Wright back as CIA agent Felix Leiter, who is forced by the agency to get closer to Greene than he feels comfortable doing. Director Marc Forster (FINDING NEVERLAND, MONSTER'S BALL, STRANGER THAN FICTION, THE KITE RUNNER) and returning primary screenwriter Paul Haggis have crafted a pretzel-tine scheme that is actually timely and scarily possible (to a certain degree). But Forster is a man of emotion, and he never misses an opportunity to let Bond's rage show through. It seems he's incapable in his current state of mind of simply disabling an attacker, and he ends up killing a whole lot of people in this movie. He's also is so focused on his mission that he breaks free of the confines of Mi6 when he needs to, giving M no choice but to cut off his resources. Ha! The process of discovering Greene's master plan is loads of fun, as is watching Bond still find time to seduce women, help a damsel who might be more emotionally crippled than he is, and continue the search for Vesper's killer (not as easy as one might think). I love that there are almost no scenes in QUANTUM OF SOLACE in which Bond isn't bruised and/or bleeding from somewhere on his body (quite often his face). Craig refuses to play his version of Bond as a flawless pretty boy who no bad guy can touch. He's a punching bag at times; he's still all-too-capable of making mistakes in both judgment and how execution, and both Craig and Forster relish in Bond's faults. I was also a real fan of Kurylenko's Camille, who is a great beauty who Bond recognizes as a fellow wounded warrior and avoids attempting to seduce her. So what's missing from QUANTUM? Not much, although I kind of wish there was a card game-like central battle of wits between Bond and Greene. But this isn't that kind of film. This is a movie about action, about phenomenal stunts, fights, chases, and explosions. And it manages all of these elements without sacrificing plot. With the stakes ratcheted up considerably from CASINO ROYALE, this latest film raises its own stakes along with it. One of the best pieces of news in recent months is that Daniel Craig is doing at least two more Bond films. If QUANTUM OF SOLACE proves anything, it's that the possibilities are endless for this new brand of James Bond. How often can you say that about a 40-year-old franchise? -- Capone

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