This film has a 65% on RottenTomatoes. Thats favorable, but not high enough. I would put it in the top 10 Bond films ever made. Its more style than substance, but not by much. And considering Casino Royale was more substance than style, I think the two are equal and very complimentary halves of a whole (with Skyfall being the perfect marriage between the two films). Quantum is the sequel to Casino (the series first proper sequel) and a much more entertaining experience in my opinion. The only thing it lacks is that you must watch Casino for Quantum to have its true power. But what Casino supplied to the series in its fantastic climax is sustained throughout Quantum’s 2 hours: humorless, remorseless, heartbroken, bone-breaking fury. That is so hard to find in cinema and very rare for the Bond series.
Things I prefer in Quantum to Casino:
- M is a much more conscious and involved character in this plot. She is beginning to trust James and care for him in a mothering role. Sticking by James when he goes rogue agent has happened before in the series, but here M is showing real faith in allowing OO7 to do it.
- Felix Leiter is a much fuller character here who evolves by the end of it. His role underlines the moral grayness surrounding Bond's conscience. Like Bond, he has to choose the right side and he has his own little subplot playing out for the first time in a film.
- Mathis becomes one of the most important sidekicks and returning characters ever. He mirrors so much of the Bond series' past and foreshadows the fate of this young, idealistic, wounded OO7.
- The choreography and staging is just impeccable and unrelenting. Casino took more breaths, but I found the casino scenes and some of the action to be flawed. Also, the editing of Quantum is ambitious and pushes one's adrenaline to the max, without ever distracting from a fully realized plot. VERY tricky and rarely done by any action film.
- Craig is much better here. Where he was brooding and cheeky in Casino, now he is cold but compassionate. Also he is a confidant action star here throughout with a few moments to show his realism as a covert spy. Very close to matching Connery's best.
- The villain Greene has more believable weight and a plausible low-key scheme than Le Chiffre. Not as finely acted or obviously menacing, he is still the most modern Bond villain and one you can imagine existing. So his downfall is so much more satisfying. Also I love the subtle Fleming-ness of an ecological terrorist named Greene.
- The structure is so much tighter and the script has great character subtext for everyone A to Z. Casino was more bare-bones so we could focus on the Jame-Vesper dynamic. But that whole dynamic exists in one person now - James Bond. He and his female lead are not romantically involved or mirrors of each other. He is simply healing his grief in seeing a woman, one he can truly trust, get the revenge that he can never have. Helping her in the end helps him mature and become the final James Bond that we know and love.
Quantum has split critics and fans, but I'm sure that it will age better than most Bond films will. Its so unique and so focused while never abandoning the Bond formula, only retooling it. There isn't a more bleak, cynical, stylish and morally ambiguous film in the Bond canon. And all of those things make it one of the closest tributes to Ian Fleming’s James Bond and a push forward into the modernized dark technological dawn thats upon us. I can't say definitely that Quantum of Solace is better than Casino Royale, but it is in many ways superior. Director Marc Forster deserves high markings as one of the top action directors ever for this film and should return to the series ASAP!