Quantum of Solace ★★★

Mine is not a popular opinion but this twenty-second outing is among my favorite in the entire Bond series series. The action and editing are frequently problematic, admittedly, but for a franchise that has become erratic and reactive by definition, “Quantum of Solace” is notable for fully committing to its own singular vision. Many previous Bond outings have been declarative (if not actually determined) about stripping back the franchise’s hallmark gadgets, quips and its more ridiculous tropes, but “Quantum” is unhesitating in sweeping these away. What’s truly compelling though is how that reduction in artifice exposes a raw center that we haven’t glimpsed before, courtesy of Daniel Craig’s almost shocking rendering of an arrogant, unapologetic and often cruel James Bond. Every line that Craig delivers feels not just calculating but also pained, his charm barely veiling a deeply broken soul. No other Bond performance manages to dig so deep so subtly, and for all of the shakily orchestrated plot contrivances around it, this interpretation of the character feels indelible. 

Additional notes…
- She doesn’t get enough to do, but Olga Kurylenko is terrific match for Craig. She too seems convincingly lost in her own demons.
- Mathieu Amalric’s villain is possibly the least cartoony of the entire series, which doubtless felt deeply unsatisfying to many moviegoers, but I enjoyed his performance greatly. 
- It’s pretty reprehensible to make an environmental activist the villain however.
- I’m completely flabbergasted when Bond fans assert that this is the worst outing of the whole franchise. For my money, it’s far superior to pretty much everything after “Thunderball” and before “Casino Royale.”
- The title “Quantum of Solace” seems to offend people as well, but I think it’s among the top five titles of the whole series.
- The theme song is kind of great too; at the very least its quirky, marginally accessible hooks are a perfect fit for the kind of movie this turned out to be.