So Quantum of Solace is awesome, and I loved the shit out of it. It picks up directly from Casino Royale but manages to abandon some of the angst. Bond is cavalier about life because he has learnt to be cold - and with this film, he's discovering that coldness. Ironic that he has to become more fucked up to become more engaging.
Anyway, the film has Bond chasing down La Chiffre's mysterious organisation from the previous film. He's still a very angry, determined man, but he's learning to be more flexible, and to take pleasure where he can. This means elaborate martinis, expensive motels on the government's dollar, and casual sex. Everything that we like Bond for. His desire to get revenge for Vesper's death in the last film though is still a principle driving force.
The action scenes are incredible this time around - the opening car chase picks up right in the middle of the action and is incredibly visceral - I cringed as an enemy car went head-on into a truck. The opening gun barrel view intro has been removed from the start of the film, so when the car chase commences, it catches you off guard. I was unhappy with this move - that iconic stride across the screen with the whirl around always gets my blood pumping with every new Bond release, and missing out on it here made me shattered. However, the film made up for it by the end - something I'll discuss shortly.
The opening titles were great, as Bond-like as you could hope. The theme song "Another Way to Die" grated on my nerves when I anxiously downloaded the mp3 after its announcement - but it works in the film surprisingly well. The thing with it is that as a song I like it, but as a Bond theme it didn't work for me - and I know how dangerous it is to never let things change, but c'mon... after Madonna took the James Bond theme and fucked it with razor sharp blades until it bled and wept and burst all over the eardrums of the world, can you blame me for being dubious about attempts to contemporise the classic style of Bond themes? Jack White can be very fucking funky though, and Alicia Keys has the vocal chops to be able to pull off a big number. They combine fairly well.
The action scenes retain their punch throughout, and they have the grand style you'd expect of a Bond movie. The second major action sequence is a foot chase, and just like the parkour scene from Casino Royale we see Bond's ingenuity - he's athletic, but its his damn resourcefulness and ability to think on his feet that keeps him a step ahead of the enemy. It's a top scene.
By the end credits we've traversed three continents, witnessed mass destruction in almost every popular form of transport (boat, plane, bike, car, truck...), watched fist and axe fights, seen the murderous powers of broken glass, and saved south american peasants from drought. Seriously.
It's Bond, it's fucking good. I recommend it, it's fun - it's no From Russia With Love, but it does live up to the bar set by Casino Royale, and adds a little of the over-the-topness that has made Bond films beloved by the masses.
Oh, and that gun-barrel view I was talking about? It pops up at the very end of the film, like a statement of intent. We've dealt with the origin story. We've dealt with the angst. And when James Bond returns as the credits predictably tell us he will - it will be Bond as we know him. I can hardly wait.