After the success of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig's second Bond movie came with a lot of anticipation. The heat was on and people wanted confirmation that the first movie wasn't a fluke and that Craig was indeed a worthy 007.
Unfortunately, Quantum Of Solace failed to wow audiences and since then the film is often dismissed as either the lesser of the latest Bond films or simply a disappointment altogether. Complaints usually involved the grittier Bourne-style approach (shaky cam, destructive indoor fist-fights, lots of jumping around), the somewhat underwhelming opening title sequence and the super serious tone palpable throughout.
But you know what?
The so-so Jack White/Alicia Keys musical theme aside (check out the actually great rejected theme "Forever - I Am All Yours"), Quantum Of Solace is still one badass Bond outing and, in some ways, outdoes Casino Royale. Yes the film is very much inspired in style by the Bourne movies but frankly, I personally really like what they did with that and it made for a tense and brutal Bond film like we'd rarely seen before. If Craig seemed like a bit of a thug in Royale, almost uncomfortable in those fancy suits, here he is in his element: he is 007. And he's not f***ing around.
The plot starts right where the last film left off with the mysterious Mr White getting the MI6 treatment as he is interrogated by Bond and M. But things take an unexpected turn and the race is on to try and find who is responsible for all those dodgy dealings which led to Vesper Lynd's death in the first film. Turns out our man is Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a wealthy douche with a penchant for dealing with dictators, sneakily getting control of countries' water/oil supplies and generally being a bit of a slimy prick. Bond girls this time include the feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), also after Greene, and Gemma Arterton's adorably named Strawberry Fields, who "assists" Bond very briefly... Judi Dench's M is also back, as is Jeffrey Wright's Felix Leiter and Giancarlo Giannini's Mathis, a strong supporting cast we're glad to see again.
The film boasts some terrific action sequences, much tighter writing than Casino Royale (no gratuitous Omega watch ads here) as well as an entirely more rounded performance by Craig who goes for a much less "angry-teen" approach this time around. Yes the film does lack the 'lighter' touches Royale introduced but, to be honest, it doesn't really need to be tongue-in-cheek at all: it's a serious flick with a tough, no bullshit attitude and it's just a very cool, gripping, stylish thriller. I would say, though, that Mads Mikkelsen made a much more intimidating presence as a villain than Amalric but thinking about it, Dominic Greene was responsible for Le Chiffre's death so in the end... who is the biggest threat?
Overall, it's probably better not to compare Quantum Of Solace to Casino Royale in the first place, both films are very good, probably equally good but the former goes for a darker, grittier tone where the latter went for a good, safe mix of tough and fun. I, for one, see Craig's pre-Skyfall outing as one of the best Bonds of recent times. Mr Craig, you've proven me wrong.