Page last updated at 21:29 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 22:29 UK

Bond's depths emerge in bleak tale

Quantum of Solace final trailer - contains violence and strong language

By Lizo Mzimba
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

This is a Bond adventure that's badder, better but not bigger.

Clocking in at one and three-quarter hours, it's a good half hour shorter than 007's previous outing. And its reduced running time results in a leaner, tauter experience.

Picking up shortly after the end of Casino Royale when Bond confronted the mysterious Mr White, Quantum of Solace quickly throws him into a round-the-globe hunt.

Bond is trying to track down the shadowy organisation whom he holds responsible for the death of Vesper - the woman he loved and who died at the end of the last movie.

And that leads him to sinister bad guy Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric.

Emotional progression

So far, so familiar. But what this film does differently is to focus closely on an emotionally battered Bond, his mission and his motivation.

There are odd moments of uncertainty when the film tries to juggle Bond's personal story with the ambitious plans being pursued by Greene.

Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene
Bond's enemy is played by Frenchman Mathieu Amalric

But for the most part the villainy rightly takes a back seat to Bond's emotional journey.

007's mission may be what drives the film's plot, but the real interest lies in how Bond deals with the individuals and situations he meets along the way.

That's not to say that the film jettisons all the things that have characterised the previous stories.

There are broad nods to Goldfinger especially, but this film manages the difficult task of moving the franchise into interesting new areas.

The raw nature of the film may put off some who yearn for the days of gizmos, gadgets and Bond quips as he dispenses with faceless opponents.

Supporting cast

And it's a brave step to push even further a lot of the themes developed in Casino Royale, especially the rediscovery of who Bond is, and why he is the way he is.

It's a film that feels like the second part of a trilogy, with this being the bleaker second act.

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Olga Kurylenko as Camille
Daniel Craig is accompanied by actress Olga Kurylenko

For a lot of the movie Bond is a particularly unsympathetic character, and often it's only Craig's performance along with the shifting morality of Bond's legion of enemies that forces the audience to root for him.

Olga Kurylenko, who plays a refreshingly different kind of female companion, does well with a part that has far more depth than most Bond girls.

And Gemma Arterton is superb in her brief role as an agent whom Bond encounters in Bolivia, cementing her position as one of cinema's brightest young stars.

As ever the end credits promise that James Bond will return, and thanks to Quantum of Solace, the sense of anticipation for this should be particularly high.

Not to see what super villain Bond will be battling, but to discover what the next stage will be in a character that Daniel Craig has managed to reinvent and develop movie by movie.

Quantum of Solace opens on 31 October.

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