There have been only two Bond films in the past twenty years that have been hands-down, unarguable masterpieces, and both were directed by Martin Campbell.
Not that no one has liked any of the other movies, or that they haven’t been successful, but when you talk about a real consensus of fans, that’s the fact. (Maybe I’m fudging a little bit, because many fans adore The World Is Not Enough and consider it one of the best of the series. Me? Not so much.)
There was no Bond movie in 1988, and I adore The Living Daylights from 1987; although it has some flaws, it’s overall excellent, and ranks high among fans. So let’s review 1989–2008:
- Licence to Kill: Financially troubled, it suffers from a low budget, a second-rate supporting cast, and John Glen’s ham-handed direction.
- GoldenEye: Genius. In my personal top five and widely acclaimed by fans. Directed by Martin Campbell.
- Tomorrow Never Dies: A mid-range Bond. I love Jonathan Pryce but most fans don’t. An out-of-control last half-hour.
- The World Is Not Enough: Dark, muddy, and unbeautiful. M’s kidnapping is controversial: Some fans love it, some fans hate it. The cinematography, however, is nobody’s friend.
- Die Another Day: Half a great movie, half a comic book. For many fans, the nadir of the series. Certainly the CGI stunts are anathema.
- Casino Royale: Genius. In my personal top five and widely acclaimed by fans. Directed by Martin Campbell.
- Quantum of Solace: A mess. Lots of good scenes intermixed with the mess. Worth seeing, but seriously?
See what I’m getting at here?
Quantum of Solace is half the movie that Casino Royale is. They have the same star, and the same outstanding supporting cast. The same production team and the same writers. They both have two relative unknowns as Bond girls. The difference here, the only obvious difference, is the director. Marc Forster should be ashamed of himself.