Cody takes a look at a maligned favorite.
The twenty-second Bond film was being fast-tracked long before Casino Royale (2006) even reached theatres. At the October 2005 press conference announcing that Daniel Craig had been cast as James Bond, producer Michael G. Wilson mentioned that The World Is Not Enough/Die Another Day/Casino Royale writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were already working on the script for the next film.
Bond 22 even had a director join and leave the project before CR was released. In July of 2006, the trades got word that Roger Michell, who in addition to directing Notting Hill and Changing Lanes had worked with Craig on The Mother and Enduring Love (one of my favorite non-Bond Craig movies), was in negotiations to helm the film, which would be based on an idea by Wilson. At that time, 22 was slated to hit theatres just 18 months after Casino Royale, with an intended release date of May 2, 2008. The same opening weekend as Iron Man. Less than a month after that news came out, it was reported that Michell had left the project. He wasn't comfortable with the fact that there was a release date set before they had a script everyone was happy with, felt things would've been too rushed, and he had no real passion for Bond. He said he only would've been doing it for the money and because of his friendship with Craig, so rather than just go through the motions and cash the check, he got in his Prius and went on his way.
The release date for 22 was soon pushed back to November, 2008, keeping the established, traditional two year schedule. Almost ten months passed after Michell's exit before the next director, the one who would see the project through to the end, signed on. Like Michell, he was an unexpected choice: Marc Forster, a director best known for dramas, who hadn't really handled action before.
Although nearly a year had passed since Michell left the project, it was in much the same situation when Forster joined, the script problems still hadn't been solved. The plan all along was to make the movie a direct sequel to Casino Royale, extrapolating on some of the loose ends that existed at the end of that film. In its final moments, Bond had discovered that Vesper Lynd, the HM Treasury representative who he had fallen in love with over the course of the main mission of the story and was planning to leave the secret service to start a life with, had been working as a double agent for a mysterious organization with ties to terrorist groups. Rather than let Bond save her during the film's watery climax, Vesper chose to drown. After her death, Bond was informed by his boss M that Vesper betrayed them because her French-Algerian boyfriend had been kidnapped by the organization so they could manipulate her. But Vesper had also saved Bond's life, trading her own (and the $100 million+ in winnings from the film's centerpiece poker game) in exchange for Mister White, the face of and enforcer for the organization in Casino Royale, allowing Bond to live when he could have easily been killed. Making that deal quickly comes back to haunt White, as the final scene shows Bond greeting the man at his Italian villa with a gunshot to the kneecap.
Purvis and Wade had written some drafts that picked up right after the ending of Casino Royale, then Paul Haggis, who had done a character and dialogue polish on Purvis and Wade's CR script, was brought on to do a pass on the follow-up's script as well. This time, Haggis went beyond polishing and threw out most of what his predecessors had written, keeping just a couple specific elements at the beginning and following the basic structure.
In Haggis's story idea, the organization hadn't just kidnapped Vesper's boyfriend, they also had in their clutches her young child, a child that had never been mentioned in CR. This idea went over like Max Zorin's blimp with producers Broccoli and Wilson. Bond would discover the existence of the child, track it down, and then what? The producers felt that he wouldn't just abandon the kid, it now being an orphan just like himself. Nor could they keep the kid around to be a sidekick à la Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The child angle was a direction that they just did not need to go in, so it was scrapped. When Forster came aboard, Haggis started over.
Now the filming and release dates weren't the only deadlines looming. As the end of 2007 neared, there was another problem on the horizon: the threat of a Writers Guild strike. The Writers Guild of America negotiates a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers every three years, the latest contract was going to expire on October 31, 2007, and the WGA was not hearing what they wanted to hear from AMPTP during the negotiations. Talks soon broke down completely, and the strike began on November 5th.
Haggis worked on the script up until two hours before the beginning of the strike, and once it began the script was locked in. Licence to Kill had run into a similar problem when the writers strike of 1988 meant that Richard Maibaum had to stop working on the script, leaving producer Michael G. Wilson to handle the rest of the writing himself. Since no WGA writers could touch the Bond 22 script, Daniel Craig and Marc Forster did some work on it themselves. The 2007-2008 strike stretched out over the last two months of pre-production and the first month of filming, ending on February 12, 2008. Once the strike was over, a writer named Joshua Zetumer was brought on to do uncredited work on the film, using ideas from cast and crew to put together new scenes daily.
Issues caused by the troubled scripting process play into why the finished film wasn't as positively received as Casino Royale. Another big issue for some viewers is the filming and editing style of Forster and his crew.
I wasn't really familiar with Forster's work before he got the job, though I was aware of his movies. After he signed on, I checked out all of them that were available. The low budget parental tragedy Everything Put Together, the emotionally intense Monster's Ball (for which Bond girl Halle Berry won her Oscar), the J.M. Barrie biopic Finding Neverland, the psychological thriller Stay, the Will Ferrell dramedy Stranger Than Fiction. At the time of his hiring, he was finishing up the adaptation of The Kite Runner. Looking over his filmography, he seemed to me to be a very chameleonic director, constantly changing genres, the styles of each of his films were very different. In that case, I thought he would be able to adapt himself into the style of Bond as well.
Forster wasn't out to just copy what had been done before, though. While he liked some of the earlier films, he wasn't a full-on Bond fan, and that along with his indie/arthouse sensibilities made him more willing to take chances and get experimental with his entry in the series. His vision for how to follow up the 144 minute epic of Casino Royale was all about speed, he popularly stated that he wanted his movie to move like a bullet. He wanted to make it a '70s-style revenge thriller with a simple plot that was always racing forward on an adrenaline rush. How well you think he pulled that off, and how appropriate you think that choice was, is one deciding factor in whether or not his Bond film works for you.
Forster's approach and the experimentation are evident from the start. The traditional gun barrel opening is eschewed in favor of a quick sequence of building mood and suspense, the camera gliding over a lake in Italy toward a highway tunnel cut into a mountainside, intercut with shots inside the tunnel of things like a dark grey Aston Martin DBS speeding along, enemy Alfa Romeos pursuing it, the eyes of James Bond as he drives the DBS, a chain of bullets being loaded into a belt-fed machine gun... The music reaches a peak, Bond shifts gears and stomps on the gas, the DBS's engine revs and we are dropped right into an action sequence.
As Bond speeds away from the two black Alfa Romeos that are chasing him, the passenger of one of the cars firing a machine gun at the Aston Martin with no thought given to the collateral damage caused to the other vehicles around it, the style of this film's action sequences quickly makes itself known. Many of its detractors complain that it's full of "shaky cam", but the camera is reasonably steady for the most part, what can make the action sequences disorienting is that the editing is lightning fast, cutting between a crazy amount of angles for shots that are typically less than a second long.
The cutting is so quick that this car chase, which takes the vehicles out of the tunnel, gets a police car involved, goes down through a quarry, and features much gunfire and extensive vehicular damage lasts a mere three minutes. And that's counting the buildup.
The Italian stunt team that worked on the chase was headed by Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, a man known to horror fans for portraying the iconic worm-faced poster ghoul in Lucio Fulci's Zombie. The sequence was a very tough one to film and some of the stuntmen were badly injured in accidental crashes. When I attended a panel that Dell'Acqua was on at a recent Cinema Wasteland convention, he expressed displeasure with the way it had been cut together, that it goes by so fast. He said it wasn't worth it. I can understand Dell'Acqua's feelings about it and regret that people were hurt making it, but I really like the sequence the way it is in the film. Unlike many viewers, I don't find the cutting here hard to follow, and I think the chase is great, the quickness of it adding to its effectiveness. There aren't many action sequences that I'll just watch isolated from the rest of the film around them, but every once in a while I get a craving to watch this movie's opening car chase. It's a good 3 minute fix of vehicular action.
Having lost his pursuers, Bond drives (what's left of) his DBS into the city of Siena, Italy, which is identified by the first of this film's stylized location cards. I love the look of these, I wouldn't have minded if these sorts of location identifiers were kept around as a new traditional element of the Bond series.
Bond pulls into a gated tunnel, this one taking him down into a secret location amidst the city's sewer system. He parks, exits the vehicle, opens the trunk, and reveals that the wounded Mister White (Jesper Christensen reprising his role) is tied up within. Mere minutes have passed since the ending of Casino Royale. Bond tells White, "It's time to get out." Freeze frame. The theme song kicks in and the title sequence begins, starting with a gun barrel-esque shot that turns out to be, instead a view of Bond from the POV of a gun, him standing in front of the sun.
The title sequence is designed by MK12, a collective that Marc Forster brought onto the film since he had worked with them before on Stranger Than Fiction and The Kite Runner. Forster was joined by his regular cinematographer Roberto Schaefer and editor Matt Chesse, who was assisted by the more action experienced Richard Pearson (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy, The Rundown, among others). Dan Bradley (The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum/Legacy, Spider-Man 2/3, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, etc.) was chosen to be the second unit director. Bradley is also a veteran stuntman, known to fans of the Friday the 13th franchise as the first person to be cast as Jason Voorhees in the sixth film in that series, Jason Lives. Bradley was replaced behind the hockey mask by CJ Graham after one day of shooting.
Composer David Arnold returned to score his fifth Bond film, having joined the series with Tomorrow Never Dies. Since longtime Bond production designer Peter Lamont had retired after Casino Royale at the age of 77, Dennis Gassner was brought on to fill that position, with the idea being that he would bring some Ken Adam-esque style back to the series.
Michael G. Wilson's son Gregg Wilson is credited on this film as Assistant Producer, working his way up from Development Executive on Die Another Day and Assistant Editor on Casino Royale.
In a first for the series, the theme song is a duet, performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys, the lyrics written by White. I was disappointed by the title of the song when it was first announced: "Another Way to Die". It's just too close to Die Another Day and Tomorrow Never Dies. It is understandable, though, that the song wouldn't share the film's title, which doesn't easily lend itself to being song lyrics.
I was not disappointed when the title of the movie was announced to be Quantum of Solace, as that was a title I was rooting for and hoping to see used in the series someday. The title comes from a short story written by Ian Fleming and included in the Bond short story collection For Your Eyes Only. It's a very unique story in that it's not Bond on a mission, it's Bond during downtime between missions, and the whole thing is a conversation he has with the Governor of the Bahamas, the Governor telling him the story of how and why the relationship between a couple of acquaintances went sour. I always loved the title, which means "amount of comfort", but it would have to be a certain kind of movie to use it. One in which Bond is dealing with the emotional aftermath of the Vesper situation was the perfect time.
I remember the day the title was announced, a few weeks into filming, on January 24, 2008. I had a doctor's appointment that day. I was very nervous, it was my first visit to a doctor's office in over a decade and I had noticed issues that I had to get checked out to ease my hypochondriacal mind. To know that a new Bond film was in the works and was going to be using my favorite unusued Fleming title, it really did provide a quantum of solace on that day. As did the doctor's later assurance that I had nothing to worry about.
Mister White gets some medical attention of his own when the title sequence has come to an end. Bond plops him down on a chair in the underground MI6 field office they've arrived at and a couple agents set to work on him, hooking him up to an IV drip bag and bandaging his knee. While that's going on, Bond goes off to talk to M in an adjoining room. If this were a Roger Moore era film, Q would be here as well and have set up a makeshift lab in one of these rooms.
It's during his interaction with M that we get the first indications that Bond is having trouble coming to terms with what happened with Vesper. He downs an alcoholic drink - which, admittedly, is not a rare thing for him to do - and M comments that he looks like hell, asking him how long it's been since he slept. He doesn't answer.
M gives him an update on the situation he's found himself in, telling him that the body of Vesper's boyfriend, a man named Yusef Kabira, has washed up on a beach in Ibiza. In a file on a table, we get a look at a picture of Vesper and Yusef together, as well as a horrendous glimpse of the face of Yusef's corpse, which is said to have been eaten away by fish. He sort of looks like Matt Cordell in a Maniac Cop sequel. His wallet and ID were in his pocket, it appears to be an open and shut case. But the corpse is not Yusef, it doesn't match a DNA check done on a lock of Yusef's hair that was found in Vesper's apartment.
There's really no "as you know" recap of the events and relationships from Casino Royale, M and Bond talk to each other as people who lived through the previous film would, they don't need to remind each other what happened. As such, people who didn't see Casino Royale before Quantum of Solace already got lost in this scene. It's a good idea to know who Vesper was before watching QoS.
M isn't sure she can trust Bond enough to keep him on the investigation of White's organization. She's worried that he'll just be out to avenge Vesper, but he assures her that's not the case. He's not interested in finding Yusef. He isn't important, and neither was Vesper. So he says, but when M's back is turned he pockets the picture of Yusef and Vesper.
Bond and M set out to interrogate Mister White, who is clearly nervous at first. When he realizes that MI6 had no prior knowledge that his organization even existed, his mood improves greatly. He defiantly taunts Bond by bringing up Vesper, saying that her suicide was an unexpected and unfortunate turn of events, because he had been hoping to use her to manipulate Bond into working for the organization. The only information White gives up is the fact that his group has "people everywhere." And then he looks to one of the agents in the room, M's personal bodyguard, to confirm - "Am I right?"
The bodyguard is named Craig Mitchell, a moniker created by combining the last name of Daniel Craig and his then-girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell. Mitchell answers White's question by shooting another agent dead, then turning his gun on the woman he's been protecting for five years and firing a shot at her. That shot misses, hitting White's IV pole. Bond stops Mitchell from continuing to shoot by rolling forward off his seat and tossing the chair at him, allowing him to get close to the traitor and fight him long enough for M to escape from the room. During the scuffle, White catches a stray bullet in the shoulder.
Mitchell gets away from Bond and runs out of the room, kicking off a foot chase that takes the men through the Siena sewer system and up to street level through a cement manhole. Bond and Mitchell emerge amongst the spectators at the Palio di Siena horse race. The White interrogation and the Siena horse race are two elements that survived from the Purvis and Wade drafts of the script.
The foot chase continues across the city, through buildings and across tiled rooftops that fall apart beneath them. An innocent bystander is shot in the shoulder, an old lady loses a batch of cherries. There is a moment or two during this pursuit when fast, jumpy cuts make it a bit disorienting. The chase ends with Bond following Mitchell up into a bell tower. At the top, the men get into a fight that causes them to fall off the tower and through the glass skylight of the neighboring building, the camera following them down. They'd probably be falling to their deaths if not for the fact that the building is going through renovations and there's scaffolding not far below the skylight.
The men then tumble off of the scaffolding and end up swinging around on ropes that are on a pulley system, fighting each other when they get close enough to, slamming into things, busting glass, both scrambling to be the first to reach their guns. I love this scaffold/rope sequence, to me it's one of the coolest scenes of one-on-one action in the series. Like the opening car chase, the Mitchell chase and fight is an action sequence I will sometimes watch just on its own.
It ends with Bond firing his gun directly at the camera (and Mitchell), which would've been a nice segue into the title sequence if they had wanted to make the whole Italy portion of the story the pre-titles. The problem is, Bond has to go back to the underground bunker to find that White has disappeared, leaving behind nothing but an overturned chair and a puddle of blood, and it would be hard to just stick that moment in after the titles. So it's best that they're where they're at.
The film moves on to a rainy London, where investigators have found nothing of substance in the apartment of Craig Mitchell. M is clearly very disturbed by Mitchell's betrayal and what they learned from White, that they have people everywhere and their reach even stretches into a room of MI6 agents. Her own bodyguard. She chides Bond for killing Mitchell rather than taking him into custody for questioning. Viewers know Bond was in a "kill or be killed" situation with Mitchell, but this is just the first time in the film that Bond will be accused of being unnecessarily bloodthirsty.
At MI6 headquarters, which has been remodeled by Dennis Gassner to look very modern and sterile, we're introduced to M's Chief of Staff Bill Tanner, a Fleming character that has been surprisingly underused in the film series, given the fact that he's one of Bond's best friends. Tanner was previously played by Michael Goodliffe in The Man with the Golden Gun, James Villiers in For Your Eyes Only, and Michael Kitchen in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough. With this film, Rory Kinnear becomes the fourth actor to take on the role.
Bond, M, and Tanner are discussing the Mitchell situation when a forensic technician approaches them with an interesting find. With the use of some very hi-tech display devices, techie types who might be part of Q Branch (though, like Live and Let Die and Casino Royale, there's no specific Quartertmaster in this film) inform them that a twenty dollar bill found in Mitchell's wallet is a tagged bill that was introduced into Le Chiffre's money laundering operation through the interception of illegal payoffs, allowing them to trace money through his many bank accounts. Viewers who don't know about the villainous banker from the previous film will have no idea what is being talked about here.
The bill that was in Mitchell's possession is from the same series of tagged notes that were just scanned and deposited into the account of a man named Edmund Slate at a bank in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Slate has travelled to Port-au-Prince from Heathrow and is staying in room 325 at a Hotel Dessalines. This being the only lead MI6 has to go on, Bond is sent to Haiti to check out this Mister Slate.
Bond uses a credit card to break into Slate's hotel room and his snooping around is very quickly interrupted by an attack from a knife-wielding Slate. A brief, brutal fistfight ensues, and ends with Bond severing Slate's jugular with a small pair of scissors he manages to grab, then sticking those same scissors into his femoral artery. That takes the fight out of him, and Bond holds him still as he quickly bleeds out. It's a pretty badass moment.
Unfortunately, Bond has again had to kill the only person he could get answers from. Luckily, he does bear a passing resemblance to Slate, so he is able to check with the hotel receptionist to find out if there have been any messages left for him room. There are no new messages, but a suitcase was delivered to the hotel for Slate earlier in the day and they've been holding it for him at the desk, so Bond picks that up. Sitting in the hotel lobby is producer Michael G. Wilson, making his traditional cameo.
As soon as Bond exits the hotel with Slate's case, a car pulls up and the beautiful woman behind the wheel tells Bond to get in. One of my favorite Bond girls has made her entrance, Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes. Bond being Bond, he agrees to the ride. As Camille drives them along, he feels his way through a conversation with her while surreptitiously taking her driver's license out of her handbag. Camille thinks Bond is a geologist, she mentions someone called Dominic and doesn't know Mister White when Bond brings up the name. When they realize the car is being followed by a man on a dirt bike, Camille causes a traffic incident (in a nice touch, a truck hauling coffins is involved) to lose him before turning off into an alley. Bond and Camille's promising interaction is disrupted when Slate's case is opened to reveal that it contains a file folder full of blank pages, a gun, and a picture of Camille. Slate wasn't the geologist, he was hired to kill Camille.
Camille pulls a gun on Bond, causing him to exit the vehicle, but he's quickly able to commandeer the dirt bike of the man who was tailing them, a cohort of Slate's, and follow Camille to her destination. Along the way, he gets a phone call from M and Tanner, and his boss is not happy to hear what happened with Slate. She knows what Bond means when he says "Slate was a dead end."
Camille drives to the Kings Quay docks, where an waterfront building has a gated entrance and armed guards. She's allowed through the gate and walks along the dock with angry determination. On her way, she passes a man named Elvis, played by Anatole Taubman.
Elvis is essentially the lead henchman of this film, and a lot of criticism is aimed at the character, people say that he comes off as worthless and ineffectual. For me, that's not a reason to dislike him, that's the reason he's entertaining to watch. The character is worthless and ineffectual, that was a choice, not something that just happened by mistake or mishandling, and as such he adds a subtle comedic touch to the edge of nearly every scene he's in. When we first meet Elvis, he's talking on the phone to his mother and telling her about he's enjoying his time in Haiti. He cuts his call short when he sees Camille passing by with her determined stride and attempts to slow her down, but she just brushes past and tells him that if he touches her she'll break his wrist. I believe Camille could easily do so, and Elvis seems to know it as well.
Camille is here to talk to her lover, the villain of the piece, Dominic Greene, a very slimy and unpleasant little fellow played by Mathieu Amalric. Camille accuses Greene of hiring someone to have her killed, and he doesn't deny it for a second. Despite her claim that she was trying to help him to uncover a leak in his business, he knows that she had made a cash offer to one of his best geologists in exchange for information. That geologist, who Slate was meant to be standing in for, is now a corpse floating in the water at the edge of the dock.
Greene cannot abide friends talking behind his back, and to get his point across tells Camille a horrible story from when he was fifteen years old and found out that one of his mother's piano students had been saying nasty things about him. What he did to the girl involved the use of an iron...
Hanging around outside the gate, Bond gives a business card to a guard and asks that it be passed along to Camille. Instead, the guard passes it to Elvis. The card is for Universal Exports, the business that Bond often uses as a cover, and the name on the card is R. Sterling, a reference to the Robert Sterling cover that Bond used in The Spy Who Loved Me. Elvis makes a call to Universal Exports and gets a recording. By making this call, Elvis has played right into Bond's plans, Bond can now track Elvis's phone with his. In addition to the Sterling nod, there's also a moment where Bond gives a hard look at the security camera above the gate, which would seem to be a callback to the security camera issues in Casino Royale.
Greene suspects that Camille has only gotten involved with him in order to get closer to General Medrano, a deposed Bolivian dictator who he's been doing business with. Medrano (Joaquin Cosio) arrives via boat to discuss a deal with Greene. Through their conversation, we get to learn a bit more about what sort of things are done by the mysterious organization White and Greene both work for. In Haiti, they've recently had an elected leader replaced because the man had dared to raise minimum wage from 38 cents to $1 a day, upsetting the corporations with local factories. Now they're offering to hand Bolivia over to Medrano. They've already begun destabilizing the government, they'll supply private security, pay off the right officials, and have assured that twenty-six countries will immediately officially recognize Medrano as the leader of Bolivia. In exchange, all the organization wants is a piece of land in the desert. A worthless piece of land as far as Medrano is concerned, he tells Greene that his organization won't find oil there. Others have tried before. Greene is undeterred. Whatever the organization does turn up there, they own.
To sweeten the deal, Greene offers up Camille to Medrano. Medrano seems to have history with Camille's family, specifically her parents, the once powerful Ernesto Montes and his beautiful Russian dancer wife. He was "the last to see them alive." Greene suggests that Medrano should dump Camille over the side of his boat when he's done with her. He then tells Camille, "Be careful what you wish for."
Bond has been keeping watch on the dock from a distance, sitting astride the dirt bike, and when he sees Medrano and his men taking Camille away, he springs into action, riding and ramping the dirt bike over a few boats to reach one he can steal. To stop Medrano's boat, Bond merely guns the engine on his and rams into the side of the villain's vessel. In the aftermath of the collision, Camille is almost able to shoot Medrano in the head before Bond grabs her and takes her away, stealing another nearby boat to make an escape.
Camille, very upset that Bond caused her to miss her chance to kill Medrano, struggles with him as they speed away, but she soon gives up the fight when Medrano's machine gun-toting men come after them in speedboats. The ensuing boat chase and battle is very chaotic, and while I don't have a problem with most of the derided action sequences in this film, I will admit that even to this day I have no idea how Bond uses his boat's anchor to cause the last speedboat to flip over, ending the action. There doesn't appear to be any reason given for why the rope goes taut.
Camille gets knocked out during the boat action, so when he docks in a tourist area Bond hands her over to a porter with the excuse, "She's sea sick," and continues on his way. After stealing another vehicle - a Ford Bronco this time - Bond makes a call to MI6 while also tracking Elvis's phone. Having heard Camille mention both the names "Dominic" and "Greene", Bond has Tanner do a name check for "Dominic Greene". When Tanner takes too long responding to him on whether or not there are any good matches for the name, Bond impatiently demands that Tanner get M on the line, reminiscent of a moment in Casino Royale when he got impatient on the phone with Villiers and wanted to talk to M.
The biggest hit for Dominic Greene is the CEO of a company called Greene Planet. He does philanthropic work and has been buying up large tracts of land for ecological preserves. There's a firewall up around his corporate holdings that MI6 can't get through. His picture confirms he's the man from the docks.
M makes a side call to the CIA and when she mentions Greene she's quickly put through to Gregg Beam, section chief of South America. Beam says the CIA has no interest in Greene, but when he hangs up M deems Greene "a person of extreme interest". Being put right through to Beam made it clear to her that Greene is being tracked by the CIA.
Elvis's signal leads Bond to an air field, where Elvis and Greene are boarding a private plane. Notice that Elvis seems concerned about his hair as he's boarding the plane. With the tail number, Tanner is able to find out that the plane is headed for Bregenz, Austria. M authorizes a charter for Bond to follow Greene there. As they end their call, M tells Bond that it would be deeply appreciated if he could avoid killing every possible lead. "I'll do my best."
There are two CIA agents aboard the private plane with Greene and Elvis: Gregg Beam and Felix Leiter. Jeffrey Wright, who played Leiter in Casino Royale, returns to the role for this film, making him just the second actor to have played the character twice, the other being David Hedison in Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill.
Greene has come to the attention of the CIA because he's been buying up a large amount of piping for whatever he's got going on in Bolivia. The Americans figure that he's found oil there, and are willing to turn a blind eye to the Medrano coup as long as they get the lease on the oil. Greene doesn't admit that there is any, but he does need some extra help from the Americans. He has a pest that needs to be taken care of. On Elvis's phone is a security camera shot of Bond. Beam takes a look at it, the passes the phone over to Leiter and asks him if he knows who the person is. Leiter says "Sorry" and passes the phone back. Leiter is clearly not into dealing with Greene. Beam obviously knows he recognizes Bond, having been involved with the Casino Royale card game, but since Leiter won't confirm his identity Beam does it for him, then assures Greene that the Bond problem will be handled.
I really enjoy David Harbour's performance as Gregg Beam, with big mustache, goofball manner, and dumb laugh. He's perfectly douchey.
Elvis is ignored and rudely treated during the flight. He asks Leiter "How much longer?" until they reach Austria, Leiter doesn't answer. Instead of handing his phone back to him, Beam just tosses it at him. If you're really paying attention, you'll notice that Elvis wears a heart belt buckle. He's got his own style.
Bond arrives in Austria soon after Greene and Elvis and follows the tracking signal to an opera house with a floating stage, where the men are attending a production of Tosca. In a great sequence fuelled by the music of David Arnold, Bond keeps an eye on what's happening in the opera house, continuing his streak of thievery by stealing the suit of a Tosca cast member so he can blend into the classy crowd. Noticing that certain attendees are given special gift bags, Bond follows one such attendee into the restroom, knocks him out and checks the contents of the bag. Interestingly, it contains a stylized Q pin and an ear piece, which Bond appropriately sticks in his ear.
Tosca begins, and by the look on his face we can tell that Elvis is loving this show. Greene has other things on his mind. This night at the opera is actually a meeting of members of the mysterious organization, scattered throughout the crowd, communicating with the ear pieces. Mister White is even sitting in the audience. As the members talk, we catch the name of the organization - Quantum - and some details of what they're working on. There's something involving Canadian Intelligence. What Greene is doing in Bolivia is called the Tierra Project, and he needs 2000 kilometers more pipeline. The purchase is approved, funds transferred from their Siberian holdings. The Americans are going along with the coup, they won't like finding out they've been duped in regards to getting an oil lease, but Greene will handle that. Bolivia is made the organization's top priority, they're dealing with the world's most precious resource there and they have to control as much of it as they can.
Having climbed up into the stage structure so he can look out over the crowd, Bond has heard everything. Eventually, he speaks up, suggesting that the organization find a better place to meet. That scares the members, with most of them standing up and making their way out of the opera. As they head for the exits, Bond takes their pictures, their images instantly sent to Tanner's computer at MI6. The identities of several Quantum members have just been revealed. Smartly, Mister White keeps his seat. Elvis reluctantly leaves with Greene.
Now it's time for Bond to leave the opera as well, and his escape is presented in a very artsy sort of way. Operatic music overwhelms the sound of the action as Bond evades and dispatches the Quantum bodyguards that come after him, the real world violence intercut with simulated violence being performed on the stage. Bond is pursued up onto the roof of the opera house, where he gets the drop on the last guard and attempts to get some answers from him. Bond walks the uncooperative man to the edge of the roof, but not even the threat of being dropped gets him talking. Teetering on the edge, the man grabs Bond's lapel, and just like knocking his tie out of Sandor's hand in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond knocks this guy's hand away and lets him drop off the roof.
The fall doesn't kill him, he lands on top of the car Greene is preparing to leave in and looks like he'll be just fine. But Greene doesn't like that the man has seen him, so he has one of his men kill him. A report of this guy's death is received by Tanner as a special alert, with images from the scene leading him to misinterpret the incident as Bond shooting him and throwing him off the roof. Trouble is, he was one of their own, a member of Special Branch.
Tanner calls M as she's getting ready for bed, passing along this news and the identities of some of the Quantum members; Gregor Karakov, owner of most of the mines in Siberia, telecom giant Moishe Soref, and Guy Haines, special envoy to the Prime Minister. The unlucky roof fellow was Haines's bodyguard.
Disturbed by what she perceives as an out-of-control killing spree being committed by Bond, M calls and orders him to report back to London. Being himself, he shrugs off this order, telling her that he needs to stay on the mission and find the man who tried to kill her. He ends the call by telling her, "Go back to sleep." She responds by having Tanner restrict Bond's movements, cancelling his credit cards and putting an alert on his passports. She also wants Tanner to find out everything he can about Haines, but warns him to be careful who he trusts with the Quantum information. She tells him she hopes he'll be a better judge of character than she is. Obviously she's having major doubts about Bond.
Bond finds out his credit cards don't work when he attempts to get a flight to La Paz, Bolivia, where Greene is now flying off to. He can't get on a plane, but knowing that MI6 will be calling to check, he requests that the receptionist tell whoever asks that he's gone off to Cairo. A location from The Spy Who Loved Me.
Instead, Bond goes to Talamone, Italy, visiting a villa in a very picturesque location. This place is the new home of Rene Mathis, Giancarlo Giannini reprising the role of the Casino Royale ally who Bond suspected was double crossing him and working with Le Chiffre. Mathis was taken into custody at the end of CR, imprisoned and tortured, but ultimately cleared. He was retired from the intelligence business and MI6 bought him this home as compensation. He's not happy to see Bond at first, but I must say that the accusations turned out very well for him. He lives in a beautiful place and is cohabitating with a lovely woman named Gemma (Lucrezia Lante della Rovere), who's about 25 years his junior.
Since Mathis has already been checked and cleared, he has become the only person Bond thinks he can trust, and needs him to pull some strings to get him some new credit cards and a passport. As the men talk things out, some dialogue about how complicated it can be tell heroes and villains apart is taken from a conversation in the Casino Royale novel that didn't make it into the previous film. Bond fills Mathis in on the new Quantum developments, the Tierra Project, and the identities of members. Mathis recognizes Haines as one of the Prime Minister's top advisors. By the end of the scene, the former allies are again solidly aligned. Bond is going to Bolivia, Mathis was stationed in South America in seven years and still has some contacts there. Mathis agrees to go to Bolivia as well.
As much as Bond likes to put on the appearance that he's been unaffected by the Vesper situation, giving cold and hard responses whenever she's mentioned by others, we and Mathis get a glimpse at the pain he's truly in during the flight to Bolivia. M was right, he hasn't been able to sleep, and at the plane's onboard bar he gets drunk on at least six of his famous shaken martinis while looking at the picture of Vesper with Yusef. He also still has the Algerian love knot necklace she used to wear, which was given to her by Yusef.
Landing in La Paz, Bolivia, Bond and Mathis are greeted by a young woman named Fields (Gemma Arterton). When Fields tells Bond she's from the consulate, Bond replies, "Of course you are." Perhaps a callback to his introduction to Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever, though it certainly stands out more when it's the response to a girl saying "I'm Plenty." Word of Bond's travel has gotten around, and Fields has been ordered to turn him right around on the next plane to London. If he resists, she'll arrest him and put him on the plane in chains.
The first flight to London isn't until the next morning, so Fields does allow Bond and Mathis to get hotel rooms for the night. Bond balks at the cheap hotel she has chosen for him, saying he'd rather stay at a morgue. Fields has them checking in under the cover of being teachers on sabbatical, so when Bond books rooms for them in a much classier and more costly hotel, he adds a bit to the cover: they're teachers who have won the lottery.
I like the way information is conveyed in this film, there isn't much in the way of expositional info dumps to explain everything that's going on, most of it is presented like puzzle pieces that are dropped in along the way. When the characters are riding around in the taxi that takes them to the hotels, there are two conversations going on inside the vehicle, spoken in Spanish, two sets of subtitles running at the bottom of the screen. One of the speakers is Mathis, who is trying to talk to his local contact, the other is the taxi driver, who is ranting about the water shortage in the area, which the government isn't doing anything about. He blames global warming, "It's like the wrath of God." Mathis keeps telling the taxi driver to shut up so he can focus on his phone call, but this is more than just a humorous moment, the taxi driver's complaints are relevant to the plot.
With time to kill in Bolivia, Bond takes advantage of the presence of Fields by quickly managing to seduce her under the transparent pretense of helping him find the stationery in his room. Even after they've slept together, she won't let Bond call her anything other than Fields, keeping her first name secret. It will never be revealed within the film proper, you have to watch the end credits to find out that her full name is Strawberry Fields.
Through his contact, the Colonel of Police, Mathis secures an invite for them to a charity fundraiser Greene's company Greene Planet is holding that night. Greene is openly seeking funds for the Tierra Project, which he tells the attendees is part of a global network of Eco Parks that he has created to rejuvenate the world and try to save it from its environmental decline. After Greene delivers a speech, party hobnobbing commences, with Mathis introducing Bond and Fields to his Colonel friend Carlos, who promises them that his entire police force is at their disposal.
A Bolvian man talks to Greene about the fact that some of the people in his country spend half of their paychecks just to get clean water. Directors Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron both have vocal cameos in this film, and while I don't know Cuaron's voice well enough to pick him out, Del Toro's is unmistakable, and it's his voice coming from this man. Greene says the water shortage is the government's fault for cutting down trees, causing the water to just wash out to sea. Then Camille joins the conversation to tarnish his eco-warrior image by laying out the fact that Greene Planet bought up land outside Potosi, Bolivia just to sell its logging rights to a multinational corporation. So Greene was behind some of the logging that he blames the water shortage on. As Greene takes Camille away, Elvis tries to do damage control.
In a quiet corner, Camille and Greene threaten each other. She'll continue to damage his business unless he tells her where she can find Medrano. He might just push her through the crumbling stone railing they're standing against. As Bond moves in to speak to his old acquaintances, Leiter watches him from the crowd. Leiter appears to be in a very serious mood, which the accompanying Beam complains is cramping his style.
Greene spews some venomous words, showing that he's had access to MI6 files, reports that let him know Bond is difficult to control and "everything he touches seems to wither and die." He says that Camille is stunning "once you get her on her back", the first spoken reference to the large patch of scarring on Camille's upper back. She doesn't hide it, she wears shirts and dresses with low backs in her scenes, it's been visible in her scenes since the Haiti docks, but the explanation will be held off a while longer.
As Bond and Camille go to exit the party together, Greene deems them "damaged goods" and motions for Elvis to follow them. Fields intercepts, tripping Elvis and causing him to fall down a flight of steps. As he tumbles, his toupee falls off.
Bond has taken Camille with him because he wants her to show him Greene's Tierra Project, but as they drive away from the party Bond finds that, despite what the Colonel told him, the local police are at the disposal of Greene, not himself. Two motorcycle cops pull him over and make him open the vehicle's trunk, revealing a badly beaten Mathis within. Mathis is meant to already be dead in this scenario, and the officers panic when the "corpse" moves. One of the cops fires a couple shots into Mathis, and while he's preoccupied doing that Bond gets the upper hand in the situation and takes the two cops out.
Bond cradles the dying Mathis in his arms. These two men at different ends of their careers had a lot in common, one thing being that they both preferred to use their real names rather than cover names. With his final breaths, Mathis advises Bond to forgive Vesper and himself. After Mathis dies, Bond puts his body in a nearby dumpster, a move that fans have been wondering about and discussing for the last four years, trying to figure out exactly why he does this. Perhaps just to get his body off of the street, where he lets the two cops' bodies lie. Is being in a dumpster better? Regardless, Rene Mathis lives on in the novels, but he has made his exit from the films.
By the time Bond and Camille reach an air field and rent a plane, Mathis's body has been found and the news reported back to M with the local police claiming that Bond was the one who killed him. More fuel for the "Bond is a homicidal maniac" fire.
The owner of the air field is already selling Bond and Camille out as they're taxiing down the runway, so as they survey the land Greene wants for the Tierra Project, a stretch of desert pockmarked with sinkholes, they don't have much time to talk about her involvement with Greene and the fact that she's a Bolivian secret service agent who infiltrated his organization by sleeping with him. Their old cargo plane is attacked by a fighter plane and a helicopter.
A lengthy aerial dogfight sequence ensues, with Bond displaying some good flying skills as he attempts to best the fighter plane with his weaponless clunker. Bond's plane does take heavy damage during the skirmish, and he and Camille are forced to bail out... with just one parachute between them. They try to stay together as they hurtle toward the ground, and would get splattered across the desert if their fall hadn't been aimed to take them right into one of the sinkholes. The parachute is opened below ground level, an idea that was left over from Michael France's first draft of the GoldenEye script, in which Bond and the leading lady plummet from the sky and open their parachute inside a cavern.
Back in London, M is called in for a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, and despite how bad things are looking with Bond, she still fights to continue the investigation of Greene, he's a major player in a dangerous organization. The Secretary doesn't care about all that, they've never even heard of this organization before, it's irrelevant. The Prime Minister doesn't want Greene to be troubled, their interests are aligned. The world is running out of oil, and if Greene has access to some that the US and UK can get from him, they have to do business with him. M is ordered to pull Bond out of Bolivia, "or the Americans will put him down."
Inside the sinkhole, while Bond and Camille recover from their fall and try to make their way back to the surface, both Camille and Greene's true motivations are revealed.
Camille is using Greene to get to Medrano because her father was in the military junta and when she was a child the opposition sent Medrano to kill him. He did kill her father, then raped and killed her mother and sister before setting the house on fire with Camille inside. The mark on her back is a large burn scar. She's been seeking revenge for years. Bond admits that he has an ulterior motive in pursuing Greene, he too lost someone and plans to use Greene to get to the person responsible.
Greene has diverted rivers and built dams to create an underground reservoir beneath the land he'll be receiving when the Medrano coup happens. There is no oil, the pipeline he's been buying is for the water.
After passing the reservoir and exiting the sinkhole, Bond and Camille have to walk across the desert to get back to civilization. Their desert walk is yet another moment in this film that's reminiscent of The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond and Anya walking across the desert is one of the most remembered scenes from that film, and here the image of Bond and Camille walking across the desert was integrated into the marketing campaign.
Bond and Camille catch a bus in a small village, where they see firsthand the effect of Greene's water manipulations, observing villagers with buckets gathered around a water source that has just run dry.
Arriving back at his hotel, Bond is delivered a message left by Fields that morning. A piece of paper with "Run" written on it. Bond continues up to his room anyway, and at first thinks that Fields was just trying to warn him that M and a bunch of MI6 agents are there, waiting for him. Bond is disappointed that M is still trying to take him off the case and tells her that regardless of what the Americans may have promised, there is no oil here. But Greene is still pushing that bit of misdirection, so much that Fields has been drowned in oil, her body coated in it and left on Bond's bed. Fields's crude-slathered body is a visual callback to the iconic image of Jill Masterson's gold-painted body in Goldfinger.
M again accuses Bond of being solely motivated by revenge, blinded by incosolable rage. She officially removes him from duty, suspended pending further investigation. He hands over his gun and is taken into custody by three agents. The agents take a handcuffed Bond into the hotel elevator, and in the 8 seconds it takes the elevator to get down to the first floor, Bond manages to knock out all three of the men and unlock the cuffs. Then he takes the elevator back upstairs to confront M as she's walking away from his room.
Bond wants M to mention in her report that Fields showed true bravery, and he tells her that they need to see this through. With a "capture or kill" order still hanging over his head, Bond sneaks out of the hotel, past the rest of the MI6 agents that are around. As he exits the hotel, Camille pulls up in a car and tells him to get in, just like in Port-au-Prince.
M knows Bond's onto something, and she tells Tanner that despite the CIA's insistence that Bond be stopped, she trusts him. M is very internally conflicted in this film, very ambivalent about Bond's actions. She didn't trust him in his room, yet comes back around to trusting him after he escapes custody seconds later. She does share his determination to bring down Quantum since they got so close to her, but the change of mind does seem to happen very quickly, and this is an element that might've benefited from further script revisions, had they been possible.
I enjoy the conversation about bottled water that Leiter and Beam are having at the local CIA office right before Leiter gets a phone call from Bond, and also enjoy the banter that Leiter and Bond engage in when the CIA agent meets up with the troubled 00 at a bar soon after. These guys aren't really buddies yet, but Daniel Craig and Jeffrey Wright are great together and I really want to see further interactions between their Bond and Leiter in future films.
Leiter and Bond only have a short amount of time to talk before agents in riot gear are set to storm into the bar, but since Leiter has serious misgivings about Greene he does share information that he wasn't supposed to. Medrano has to pay off the Army and the police before he can make his move, and that money is being supplied by Greene. The meeting will soon be held at a hotel in the desert called La Perla de las Dunas... Then the agents move in and Bond runs out.
Medrano and Carlos, the Colonel of Police who betrayed Mathis, have the remote La Perla de las Dunas completely cleared out before their meeting with Greene. The only people in the place are their men and one receptionist, an attractive young woman who Medrano shows an unhealthy interest in. Bond and Camille watch from a safe distance as all the villainous players gather together the hotel. As they prepare to make their two-person assault on the place, he gives her some advice on what it will be like when she's finally faced with killing Medrano.
Casino Royale was set in 2006 and featured Felix Leiter, representing the United States, delivering the pre-recession line, "Does it look like we need the money?" Since this picks up immediately after the last, it's still presumably set in 2006, possibly August since Bond was in the Bahamas in July '06 in CR and the next Palio di Siena horse race would've been held on August 16th, but as Greene pays off Carlos with euros there's the 2008-minded line "The dollar isn't what it once was." Oh, these crazy Bond timelines.
The Carlos part of the deal goes smoothly, but Medrano shows some hesitation when Greene presents him with some paperwork that needs to be signed regarding the desert property. As soon as the land officially belongs Greene, Quantum owns 60% of Bolivia's water supply and Medrano is forced to agree to use them as the utilities provider, at a price double what is currently being paid.
During their discussion, Greene says that Quantum works with the left or the right, with dictators or liberators. Sides mean nothing to them, only who they can manipulate to make a profit. And if Medrano has a problem with the specifics of their deal, they'll remove him from power and find someone more agreeable. Someone amongst the three writers who wrote Casino Royale and this film seems to have had a thing for people being threatened with the idea of their genitals being removed and stuffed into their mouth, Le Chiffre threatens Bond that way in CR and Greene does the same, but in more graphic terms, to Medrano. That closes the deal. In celebration, Medrano heads off to rape the receptionist.
Bond and Camille make their move, and as they fight their way through the the hotel, which runs on a fuel cell power system, the place goes up in flames all around them. Marc Forster said he wanted to base action sequences around the four elements of nature - the boat chase and plane dogfight were obviously water and air, the car chase through the quarry might have been earth, and this climax is full of fire.
Camille is able to save the receptionist from suffering the same fate her own mother and sister did, and the following confrontation with Medrano is a brutal one. Elvis, wearing a neck brace following his tumble at the party, suffers his final indignity during this sequence, after Greene forcefully poses him in a gun ready position to protect him from the pursuing Bond. Elvis is caught in an explosion, and as the flames engulf him we catch a glimpse of his clothes being blown off his body. When the time comes for a physical altercation between Bond and Greene, the weaselly little baddie actually puts up a surprisingly good fight...
With the hotel burning up around her, Camille is trapped in a room and faced with her worst nightmare, a repeat of her childhood ordeal. Things look pretty dire for a moment, coming to a point when Bond may have to kill them both with one bullet just to save them from the flames, but this wasn't the last Bond movie so of course that doesn't happen.
Bond takes Greene alive and questions him about Quantum, but he doesn't take the man into custody. Having gotten the answers he wanted, Bond finds a way to not kill the man himself while also getting payback for Fields in a very appropriate way.
The information Bond gleans from Greene sends him off to one last location, Kazan, Russia, where he finds Vesper's boyfriend Yusef alive and well. He's a Quantum member and working on manipulating another young woman, this one a Canadian Intelligence worker named Corinne. He's even given her an Algerian love knot necklace. Corinne is played by Stana Katic, who landed a lead role in the TV show Castle soon after this film. Bond tells Corinne how Yusef works, that someday he'd be "kidnapped" and she'd have to give up some kind of important information to his captors, and since she loves him she wouldn't hesitate to do so.
Bond shows the restraint M has been wanting him to for the entire movie and leaves Yusef alive to be taken into custody. Outside Yusef's apartment, Bond and M discuss what's gone on, the fact that she and Mathis were right about Vesper, she did love him and gave her life for him. There are no regrets, regret is unprofessional. M also gives him the news that things have been straightened out with the Americans, Beam lost his job and was replaced by Leiter.
As Bond walks away, M tells him that she needs him back at MI6, to which he replies "I never left." He drops Vesper's necklace in the snow and continues on with the rest of his career... And that's when the James Bond Theme kicks in and the gun barrel plays out. As the optical blood dribbles down the screen we pull back from the barrel and it becomes the foundation for the Q in the title logo.
The end credits roll, accompanied by a cool instrumental track by David Arnold and Four Tet called "Crawl, End Crawl." The final running time of the film is 106 minutes, making it the shortest in the series, a few minutes below Dr. No and Goldfinger, which were both just under 110.
The movie would've been slightly longer, but a final scene of Bond infiltrating the home of Guy Haines, where he shoots Mister White (again, and possibly for good) before introducing himself - "Bond. James Bond." - to Haines was cut out. Forster decided to remove the scene because it felt too much like a cliffhanger teasing another Quantum-centric story and he didn't want to box whatever film followed into that corner. It was a good call, because the scene in Russia feels like the proper ending, Bond confronting Yusef and getting the quantum of solace that allows him to move on from Vesper is the resolution of this story. I do hope to be able to watch the scene someday, if we ever get the special edition release of this film that I'm waiting for impatiently.
Quantum of Solace is one of the movies I was most looking forward to writing about when I started this 50 Years of 007 project, because it was going to be a chance to display some positivity toward an entry in the series that I find gets an overabundance of hyperbolic negativity directed at it. Negative voices are usually the loudest on the internet, and there are plenty of people out there who proclaim this film to be The Worst Thing Ever, among so many other worst things ever. I've seen people call it the worst movie they've ever seen, and if that's truly the case I consider those people to be exceptionally lucky . Others will narrow it down to "the worst Bond movie ever". I've always been quite fond it, and I think QoS shines like a diamond-encrusted satellite compared to some of the other installments that it too often gets lumped at the bottom of the list with. As time has gone on, the extreme negativity shown toward this film has led to more people coming out to defend it with at least a "It wasn't that bad." I've been happy to see that happen.
I said in the Casino Royale (2006) article that I thought CR was the best movie in the series since On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, and Quantum of Solace follows up the Vesper story in a way that I wanted 1971's Diamonds Are Forever to follow up the Tracy story from OHMSS. In the novel after OHMSS, Fleming had Bond deeply affected by Tracy's death. In the movie after OHMSS, fans can debate whether or not the events of the previous film are even acknowledged at all. The literary Bond was deeply depressed after Tracy's death, drinking excessively and having trouble sleeping. To have Bond emotionally damaged, drinking excessively and having trouble sleeping after the death of Vesper, QoS sort of makes up for DAF having dropped the ball on that angle.
QoS does have its problems, but any issue I really have would be blamed on the scripting complications and the beginning of production coinciding with the writers strike. There are some rough elements and scenes that could've been smoothed over with some revisions, but overall it works pretty well for me.
I like the cast, the characters and their interactions. Craig is still great as Bond and I like when he's given moments in which he can show emotional depth. Olga Kurylenko has a very likeable and appealing screen presence and if I had to choose, she might get my vote for most beautiful Bond girl. Jeffrey Wright and Giancarlo Giannini were awesome in CR and continue to be in QoS. Anatole Taubman amuses me as the woefully underappreciated Elvis. Mathieu Amalric makes Greene a completely contemptible sleazeball.
Some call Greene's water plot, Michael G. Wilson giving a nod to Chinatown, too weak for a Bond film, but by thwarting him Bond saves an entire country from ruin and thirst under the rule of a homicidal rapist dictator. Not bad for a film's work.
Others don't like that Bond goes rogue on a roaring rampage of revenge. But he actually doesn't. MI6 and the CIA think he's out of control, but Bond is sticking to his assigned mission throughout. Completing that mission is the key to him solving his personal problems. He only steps out of bounds when he's forced to by M's lack of trust in him. Like he tells her at the end, "I never left."
The execution of the action sequences is a huge issue for some viewers. Even Michael G. Wilson showed some uncertainty about it, but the post-production window was so small that substantially changing the editing of the action sequences wouldn't have been possible even if they had wanted to do so. In a way, having experimentally quick editing is sort of fitting to the roots of the series. Peter Hunt's editing on the early films was considered very fast back in the '60s, and looking at reviews for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (which was directed by Hunt) from the time of its release, the critics of the day had the same complaint about the editing in that film's action sequences as people have about the editing in QoS - it was too quick, they couldn't tell what was happening. That being said, and as much as I enjoy the opening car chase and the stuff in Siena, I wouldn't want the QoS style of action to become the norm within the series. But with it having since been followed by Skyfall, we know that hasn't happened. As a one-off experimental approach, I don't mind it, and the more hectic action works for this specific film.
I consider the movie a great companion piece to and extension of Casino Royale. Like many horror fans do with John Carpenter's Halloween and its first sequel, which continues directly on from the original film, when I watch Casino Royale I always make it a double feature and watch Quantum of Solace right after. Until doing these write-ups, I hadn't watched either movie by itself since QoS's release in 2008. I don't think the quality of QoS is very far below its predecessor's, it ranks right up there with it for me. Some could do without it, but I'm glad to have it.