Well I have taken a good few days before sitting down to write this review of Quantum of Solace. This has been a very deliberate choice as I wanted to ruminate on the experience a bit before I rushed to any conclusions.
Now that I have you all worried, let me state that this is a good film, I am just not convinced that it ticks all the boxes as a "Bond Film".
Action - most definitely Yes, with the biggest BUT attached... the director and cinematographer have produced action sequences so frenetic it is all but impossible to absorb them, which results in the impressive stunts being difficult to appreciate. The pre-title sequence is heart-breaking (in it's treatment of a gorgeous DB-S), and I am certain the driving skills are magnificent, but it is over in the blink of an eye and you are left feeling "WTF just happened there?". Next we have some more free running that pales in comparison to Casino Royale's stomach churning first big chase. Skipping forward to the end we have the "usual" destruction of the Bad Guy's lair, and again the only real enemy on show is "fire".
Bad Guy - I miss Elliot Carver! Our modern Bad Guy could almost be my Boss on a bad day! Sure he is "nasty" but you never really get a sense of the motivations or madness that is driving him. In the end is just comes down to scary eyes!
Girls - We have two token Bond Girls here, of which only Gemma Arterton is true "Bond Girl" with the ridiculous name of Strawberry Fields! Not that this is a bad thing as Olga Kurylenko's character is more about plot and character than sex.
M - Dame Judi is excellent as always, although I would like to have seen her snatch up a gun at one point and shoot one of the baddies who double-crossed her!
Gadgets - None, beyond Sony product placements.
Pithy One Liners - Hmmm, if they were there (and I am sure they were), then I can't remember a single one.
In fact I think that last one summarises the film for me as a whole. There is so little memorable about it. If you had cast Matt Damon and called it "The Bourne Explosion", then I think it would have worked just as well.
Perhaps I am being harsh? Don't get me wrong in general the cast are all outstanding, with special nods going to Giancarlo Giannini reprising the role of Mathis from Casino Royale and Olga Kurylenko as the seriously damaged Camille. It is just that it didn't work for me as a Bond Film. I didn't care about the plot and I didn't really hate the Bad Guys. What I did care about was Bond, Mathis, Agent Fields, M and Camille.
Overall this is a Bond Film, but only just. It is a good follow on from Casino Royale, in as much as it ties up the loose ends and gives Bond some measure of solace (if not revenge) and will hopefully allow him to move forward, now that we have seen his character grow.
So my score.... I think 6/10 is fair. More "Licence to Kill" than "Goldfinger"!