Now that I've seen Quantum of Solace, my new irritant-trigger is anyone who says "It's good, but no Casino Royale." And that's because that statement is wrong twice, but probably not how you may think. First, QOS is not good, it is great, a swift, brutal, honest, provoking, intelligent, and surprisingly top-notch entry into the Bond series. And second, it is most definitely no Casino Royale, for in as much as it is an appropriate true sequel to CR, had it been like CR it would have failed. Any more than Empire Strikes Back would have succeeded had it been another A New Hope.Did I just go there? Did I just use a Empire and Star Wars metaphor to describe Quantum? Yes, I did, but before your (and my) head starts exploding, I'll explain I am using the comparison in terms of mood and story flow. The story of Casino Royale is of love and betrayal and loss, and because Quantum of Solace picks up about five minutes after the former's movie ends, if you tried to do another film where Bond meets a lady and falls in love, it invalidates the gravitas of the film. If Bond mid-way through the film meets and loves another, did he really love Vesper? Would the scenes where Bond is so clearly in grievous denial suddenly become that much weaker? Would the final scene (which I won't spoil) have as much shocking and surprising closure?
A shorter film, indeed the shortest entry in the series, benefits because it is tighter and no less moving. I genuinely felt sadness at the passing of one character, which was handled with grace, tragedy and wit, all the while moving the story and Bond's character. Felix Leiter again has small a role, but no less significant and no less deftly-handled; Felix's growth and friendship with Bond is just another of the mini-origins that is being handled more memorably than the last 10 Leiters combined. The main villain, like in Casino, is more of a cog is a larger plot, but still a villain and still working well for the film and series. And that larger cog is still turning, perhaps pointing to a complete sequential trilogy for this Bond.To be honest, the choice of doing a true sequel, where Bond is grief-stricken the entire film and therefore understandably not as quick to quip as to kill, was a brave one for the studio. And for that alone they should be applauded. But, as I say that, I don't agree that the film was more violent than Casino Royale, nor does is become too-action oriented. It starts with a bang, to be sure, but quickly becomes a story and not just a set-piece. And, like in Casino, Bond's character grows and develops by the end of the film. Craig's era of Bond films may well be the one remembered as making Bond human and compelling. Now, some people may not want that -- they may want the wit and invisible cars and a character who never changes -- but I not only approve, but it has left me wanting more.