Quantum of Solace seems to be getting a rather lukewarm response; everybody seems to be saying that it's okay but not great. And it isn't great, but I think the film is actually a lot better than one would think if one listens to all of the reservations. No, it's not a perfect movie; director Marc Foster's approach is more about adrenaline than intrigue, the Jack White/Alicia Keys title song is godawful, editors Matt Chesse and Richard Pearson really need to lay off the cocaine while cutting a film (seriously, guys, a shot can last longer than three seconds, I've seen it done), and the title sequence by MK12 is rather bland in comparison to Danny Kleinman's recent work or Maurice Binder's classic contributions to the series.
But where I think the real disappointment that people have had with this film is coming from is that it lacks the psychologically probing aspect of Casino Royale that made it both contemporary and classic Bond. The concentration on action in this installment makes for a decided change in tone (one which at times seems to reference the unfortunate License To Kill)... and yet it is consistent with the arc of this version of the character as established by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. If the former movie taught Bond that trust is relative (and does not go hand in hand with love), this one is about him excising the demons instilled in him from those traumas. This being the "blunt instrument" established in Casino Royale, there is a very high body count as he burns through his passions.
The film has a breakneck pace, and I do think that it could have stepped on the brakes every once and a while, but it does stand to reason with Bond being a man of action that he would bury his vulnerabilities under a lethal veneer. The movie is about a violent creature seeking a measure of comfort (the "Quantum of Solace" of the title) he can never achieve, something which also colors his relationship (or lack thereof) with Camille (Olga Kurylenko), whose motive is also vengeance. And so, while I certainly would have preferred to see more introspection at times, the film does have a logical consistency, both internally and in context of the previous film.
The tougher M that Judi Dench introduced in Casino Royale returns, as do Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright, all used to excellent advantage. The labyrinthine morality of international espionage and dealmaking is explored with an arched eyebrow, and the plot, as it turns out, is actually rather well thought out with some good twists in it. Mathieu Amalric is quite effective as Dominic Greene, a ruthless political player who hides his nefarious scheming behind a philanthropic façade. QUANTUM is now stepping in for SPECTRE (the rights to that name now reside with Kevin McClory, it seems), and the film bubbles over with unforced references to Bond lore.
As mentioned before, the title song is horrific, but it is not integrated into David Arnold's score and so is gone once the opening credits are over. The music works gangbusters in the film, with subtle variations on
On the whole, Quantum of Solace isn't as good as Casino Royale, but it also isn't quite the anti-Bond movie so many seem to be accusing it of being. I found myself rather enjoying the film, its admitted flaws never getting too much in the way of its entertainment value.