Quantum of Solace (2008) (PG-13)

I think the general consensus of "Quantum of Solace" is fairly universal in the critical and public mind—dud. It's the equivalent to a fart in the franchise...this is what most people think. I was talking to a friend post-seeing "Skyfall" (which, up to this month, had been the only Bond film I had seen), and "Quantum of Solace" got brought up. Seeing as everyone had just come off "Casino Royale", it was curious to me how many people hated this film. I asked him what the big deal was. Among other things, his largest complaint was that the film was a direct sequel to "Casino Royale" and if you hadn't seen that, you'd be lost. Bond movies aren't supposed to be sequels—that's what he said at least.
I disagree with everyone on this movie, it is directed by a man who knows action as well as drama, and it is even better than its predecessor.
And yes, the Bond franchise is one sequel after the other...which explains why characters' deaths are referenced in movies to follow. After all, Bond chased Blofeld through three or four Bond films, only to finally dispatch him at the mercy of helicopter (he could still be alive...bwah wah!).
Just a note to those reading: this review will include minor SPOILERS for "Casino Royale"; but I'll try not to reveal the secrets of "Quantum of Solace".
At the movie's opening, Bond is involved in a terrifically disjointed car chase. Whoever was editing the action sequences had a field day in the editing room. The frames are so quick and so jolting that you don't get to really appreciate the action—but you do get used to the style.
In the trunk of Bond's car is a suspicious man named Mr. White. This man was involved with a death that Bond is seeking retribution for. Carting the man's body to M and company, the interrogations begin. Mr. White scoffs at the pitiful lack of knowledge that MI6 has. You'd think, he says, that with all the technology and spying eyes that they have, they would have at least heard of the organization.
Organization you say? What organization?
Simply the best and brightest minds using their evil intellect to infiltrate the world's most powerful businesses and networks to further the company's end goal. These people are everywhere.
To illustrate his point, one of the agents present whips out his gun and starts shooting people dead. He misses M and Bond and a merry little chase ensues. Mr. White escapes and MI6 is left scratching their heads, wondering how an agent managed to get under their nose for eight years.
As the trail starts to tighten around the group of villains, Bond gets a chance to encounter several deadly people; but none so mysterious and deadly as Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" fame). Greene has a facade of running an economically friendly company that accepts donations of any kind. We know that he's interested in a plot of land in the middle of the desert. There's no oil there, there could be diamonds; but nobody can find anything that would interest Dominic. But perhaps they should be looking harder...
Yes, there's a little bit of the same "x leads to y leads to z, etc." feeling in the film. It would impossible to avoid that.
Olga Kurylenko appears as a Bond girl, but this one is interesting because she doesn't have to sleep with Bond and she is better with a gun than she is with her swim suit. Kurylenko is a great actress but she doesn't really pull off a wonderful performance here. In her action sequences, she stands right next to Daniel Craig with no problem; but when they're having heart-to-heart conversations, it may not be the best piece of cinema.
Then again, nothing in the Bond franchise is what is commonly defined as "great film making".
When you watch "Quantum of Solace" you have to keep in mind the timeline. Wouldn't it be great if this was all leading up to a SPECTRE revelation? I was thinking so, and I think I would have been right if the film wasn't shunned so forcefully. 
I don't get it. Because no other critic really achieved the fame of Roger Ebert, it's best to use him as an example. With "Die Another Day", the last Pierce Brosnan 007 film, Ebert enjoyed the absurdity, while I found watching the film like pulling teeth. Ebert loved "Casino Royale" and gave it a four-star rating; but with "Quantum of Solace" his rating dropped down to two-stars, stating that he hated the realism of the piece and missed the tropes of the series like Q and Moneypenny, who both vanished from the series. For hating realism so much, it's odd that him and most critics like "License to Kill" and "Casino Royale" which were grounded in revenge and realism...but I digress.
There's nothing wrong with "Quantum of Solace", it doesn't try to be a masterpiece and its director, Marc Forster knows exactly what he's doing.
The editing could have used a little work; but the film has a terrific speed and is the shortest Bond film yet. Cinematically overwhelming in a good way, Forster understands how sad and operatic the saga has become...it's almost a mockery; but a blindingly entertaining one at that.
Action-packed and wonderfully well-timed film, "Quantum of Solace" has a better villain and a better plot than its older brother.
It's a pity that everyone hates this movie, because this kind of film was missing for the entire era of Roger Moore and much of Pierce Brosnan's reign.

Score: ★★★½

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