World Box Office $586.1 million
Bond is back, but is he better than ever? According to Rotten Tomatoes list of "top critics" the answer would be a resounding no, even old Roger Ebert gave a thumbs down to this new Bond outing, something that is extremely rare for him to do now a days. But frankly I've found myself caring less and less about what the critics say, because movies don't need to be analyzed, they need to be enjoyed, and that's something most critics don't seem to grasp anymore. After the rebirth of the Bond franchise in 2006 with the critically acclaimed Casino Royale, the daunting task of following that success has finally come to fruition. But right out of the gate the film has seen more criticism than congratulation, whether it be the film's title, short run time, or abundance of action, Quantum of Solace doesn't seem to get a break on anything.
Quantum of Solace is the first Bond film to actually be a legitimate sequel to a previous installment (Casino Royale). Picking up right after Bond captures suspected terrorist Mr. White, who ultimately escapes Bond's grasp but not before relaying and proving that his organization (probably SPECTRE) is world wide, with individuals everywhere, including MI6. This now instills some realization of how much of a liability and danger this organization really is, leading Bond to follow a lead which sends him to a wealthy "environmentalist", Dominic Greene. Greene's attempting to snatch one of the South America's largest water supplies, secretly stashed in caverns of the Bolivian desert, all under the guise of a political coo with which he has multiple countries willing to turn a blind eye to at the false hope of gaining extra oil reserves which don't exist. Along the way Bond hopes to discover the truth about Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved and was betrayed by, and wanting to find some "solace" in killing those responsible for her death.
While the title of the film is taken from a Ian Fleming short story, the story has absolutely no resemblance to the film, nor is the story even about Bond. Frankly the meaning of Quantum of Solace still confuses me. While "Quantum" is referred to in passing a few times it's never really explained very clearly. Is it the name of Greene's organization of terrorists, or the organization Mr. White refers to, nor the name of Greene's fake environmental organization? He does mention Quantum during the party that he held to help finance his cover project. So while Quantum of Solace makes an interesting Bond title, it ultimately becomes one of the franchise most confusing, guaranteeing that most individuals will still have no idea what it means when they leave the theater. The next bur in everyone's saddle is the film's short run time, actually it's the shortest Bond film of them all, and I say it's about time. My one major complaint about the Bond franchise in general has been length. Too many Bond films have stretched a plot out until it's paper thin, only to work in a lot of drivel and pointless scenes. After Casino Royale's two plus hours and multiple false endings, a straight to the point Bond film with less talk is ultimately what I enjoy the most, this doesn't make Quantum of Solace superior to Casino Royale overall but it certainly makes Quantum an easier film for most people to sit through and enjoy.
Ultimately aside from the rather confusing title, the horrific theme song, and no Eva Green Quantum of Solace is a concise version of Casino Royale minus the boring conversations and multiple poker scenes. Quantum may seem to pack a bigger punch but I really don't think it has more violence, in fact I'd almost go as far to say it's less violent, seeing that there's no nude torture scenes, and since it's packed into a shorter run time it provides the appearance of more action sequences, when I dare to say they are probably equal. So you can listen to Roger Ebert who says "James Bond is not an action hero! Violence for him is an annoyance. He exists for the foreplay and the cigarette. He rarely encounters a truly evil villain." Ebert's beef with Quantum of Solace is it's an action film, full of violence and evil doers, something the Bond franchise was never based on... where have you been in the last 50 years Roger? And how do you justify giving Casino Royale, a film that's just as violent, if not more so, and also breaks all the conventional rules of a Bond film, a 4 star rating but give Quantum of Solace a 2 star rating? Those like Roger Ebert and even ex-Bond, Roger Moore, long for the days when Bond films were funny, corny, and cute, frankly it's taken 39 years to reverse the downhill slide the Bond franchise has been in, ever since 1967's You Only Live Twice and Bond's undercover as a Samurai. While Roger Moore may miss the days when he dressed up like a clown in Octopussy, the rest of us don't.
With all my ranting aside, Quantum of Solace is a worthy followup to the successful Casino Royale. It definitely could have been a better film, but ultimately I could say that for just about all the Bond adventures. If you've been a long time fan of the franchise you learn not to take everything so seriously, but to just enjoy, and Quantum of Solace is definitely enjoyable. The last time I checked, listen up Mr. Ebert, people went to the Bond films for unbelievable stories and outrageous action scenes, well there's plenty of it here and also a nice homage to the classic, Goldfinger, involving Ms. Fields about three quarters through. With that said, I'd still give Casino Royale the slight advantage, only because Eva Green (one of the best Bond girls ever) makes that film worth sitting through, otherwise Quantum of Solace is really the more time efficient Bond outing that gets down to business, and will hold up a lot better for multiple viewings. Now I'm just going to sit scratching my head trying to figure out Ebert's love for Royale when it basically flies in the face of everything he disliked about Solace, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore.