Doomed balloon

Quantum of Solace doesn't deliver on hype
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REVIEW Quantum of Solace begins with the taut energy of an over-inflated balloon, picking up where Casino Royale (2006) left off with an arrestingly shot car chase on a crowded Italian highway. At first, the air leaks out as a trickle; a fistfight on a collapsing scaffold intercut with a bareback horse race establishes Daniel Craig's Bond as the jockey astride a steed of international chaos, and the expected litany of double-cross and intrigue unfolds with practiced but forgettable verve.

Soon wayward bullets and even more wayward dialogue punch holes in the balloon, and the hiss is almost audible as all the excitement and fun begins to leak out of the movie. Overhyped screenwriter Paul Haggis plods away with execrable emotional grand narratives of revenge, love, and betrayal that have no place in a Bond film. French actor Mathieu Amalric does his best as a tousled sociopath masquerading as an environmental crusader, but by the time his eeeevil plan is revealed, it's hard to care. Newcomer Olga Kurylenko is serviceably sultry as the requisite arm-candy, but one wonders why the producers went all the way to Moscow to cast a Russian model to play a Bolivian secret agent. As for the title, it still doesn't make sense.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE opens Fri/14 in Bay Area theaters.

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