You Know His Name.  And His Number.

Daniel Craig as British secret M15 spy James Bond and Gemma Arterton as Agent Fields in Marc Forster's "Quantum Of Solace", which is already playing in France, Sweden and the U.K. and arrives in the U.S. and Canada on Friday.  (All photos: Sony Pictures)

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
November 9, 2008

The last time around he almost died.  The last time around he gambled almost everything.  The last time around he didn't so much as get a wrinkle on his suit. 

Well, as you will see in a photo below, the suit got a little work out this time around.

Daniel Craig did too.  He did more of his own stunts on "Quantum Of Solace", which is already playing in France, Sweden and England (where it made a record ₤15.5 million in its opening three days just over a week ago) and opens in the U.S. and Canada on Friday.  Rumors are that Mr. Craig's right arm injury (he can be seen these days with the arm in a sling) occurred during the last weeks of filming the new Bond story, but Mr. Craig himself will not confirm or deny, or say anything at all about how his injury occurred. 

Over the last two months Mr. Craig and other "Quantum Of Solace" cast members have been spanning the globe with premiere appearances for the film, capturing wide-eyed excited Bond fans everywhere and generating advance buzz for the longest running feature film franchise in history, now in its 22nd edition.

Mr. Craig, 40, born in the city of Chester in England (and an ardent fan of Liverpool Football Club, the city where he was raised), plays Britain's most notorious secret agent spy once again, cheating death, chasing women and making James Bond a more brutal and dangerous agent, a man who blurs the line between relentless anti-hero and unblinking villain.

Money-wise, Mr. Craig's first foray as Mr. Bond was fruitful.  "Casino Royale" made over half a billion dollars worldwide back in 2006 and it is expected that "Quantum Of Solace" will do the same, if not better business.  Directed by Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball", "Finding Neverland"), the new Bond film has a coterie of side villains as well as a central one and picks up where "Casino Royale" left off.  Dame Judi Dench returns as M, as do Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter (the American CIA counterpart to Bond), Jesper Christensen as the mysterious Mr. White, and Giancarlo Giannini as an Italian double agent of sorts.  The newcomers to the Bond franchise are Gemma Arterton (pictured above) as a British agent who gives Bond a run for his money, Olga Kurylenko (of "Hitman") who puts Bond through his paces, and Mathieu Almaric (from "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly"), as uber-villain Dominic Greene.  The new film promises to be even more fierce and ferocious than the last and audiences will be sure to flock to the new film for that reason alone. 

One thing that can definitely be said is that "Quantum Of Solace" has more international locations than any of the previous 21 films.  Mr. Forster , cast and crew went to Panama, Chile, Buckinghamshire in the U.K., Italy, Austria and Mexico, with filming beginning at the start of this year (January 7).

Before he even finished filming "Casino Royale", Mr. Craig received criticism from several quarters as the new James Bond.  Mr. Craig's predecessor Pierce Brosnan had four films to show his pedigree as 007 and by most accounts left his mark in a creditable way, even if the films themselves weren't especially good.  Conversely, Mr. Craig was subjected to withering scrutiny by (surprise, surprise) some in the British press who speculated that the blond-haired Mr. Craig didn't have the brawn, the savoir faire or the look to competently play Ian Fleming's super spy.

How wrong they were.

This time around, the critical sharks have been lying very low in the water, and it is Mr. Craig who is instead doing the talking.  In the "Quantum Of Solace" production notes he discusses the challenge of being James Bond again.  "I don't feel it is easier on this one, it feels harder.  We have got expectation on us now which can be double edged, we have got to make this one better.  People have always talked about the fact that "Casino Royale" was a departure for Bond and this has to be a departure again."

Essentially, "Quantum Of Solace" marks the first time in the 22 film, 46-year history of the Bond franchise that a sequel to the previous film has been made.  Mr. Craig outlined the method of fluency from "Casino Royale" to "Quantum Of Solace".  "We felt we needed to tie up the loose ends from "Casino Royale" and make sure people realize we are back making Bond movies.  For me it's about creating something that is going to stand alone but if you put the two films together, you're going to have an incredible experience because you will see one continuous story."

Suit yourself: Daniel Craig's Bond attire gets its wear and tear in "Quantum Of Solace". 

Mr. Craig added that as a childhood fan of James Bond he marveled at the diversity of the world's locations and was impressed by the scope of some of the films  of the past.  "For me as a kid the Bond movies transported you to another world.  It was important that it took you to different locations and showed you how wonderful, amazing and diverse the world is.  If that was the only reason to make this film, we have fulfilled it."

Speaking of diversity, Mr. Craig entertained the notion, posited by some in the British press and elsewhere, about the possibility of a black actor playing James Bond in the future.  Mr. Craig, who is under contract for three more adventures as James Bond, said in an interview recently that "after Barack Obama's victory I think we might have reached the moment for a colored 007.  I think the role could easily be played by a black actor, because the character created by Ian Fleming in the '50's has undergone a great deal of evolution and continues to be updated."  Published reports suggested that Mr. Craig joked that the late Mr. Fleming would be spinning in his grave if he knew that 007 was black.

The addition of Jeffrey Wright as Bond's American accomplice Felix Leiter may at some point help provide a smooth pathway to the transition of what may be inevitable.  Would the producers of the Bond series ever turn to an American actor like Will Smith for example, to don a British accent?  Mr. Smith's presence as James Bond might cause some consternation among the stiff-upper-lip crowd in Britain, but it would be an intriguing possibility, and a pathway to mega box-office billions for sure.  (Mr. Smith played a superhero, albeit a new one in "Hancock" this past summer, and next month will play a man who touches the lives of several strangers in Los Angeles in "Seven Pounds", directed by Gabriele Muccino, who directed Mr. Smith two Decembers ago in "The Pursuit Of Happyness".)

For now though, James Bond is all Mr. Craig's stage, and he's a happy camper about that and specifically, "Quantum Of Solace".  "I'm incredibly excited about what we have done, I'm amazed how much we have crammed in.  We have been to so many locations, the film looks stunning and I think we have got something really special, in fact, I know we have something really special."

"Quantum Of Solace" is playing now in France, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  The film opens on Friday in the United States and in Canada.

Extra: Will Smith as James Bond 007?  What Do You Think?  Your Thoughts Here.

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