For the most part I think QoS works, and I like it. I admit it's not exactly how I envisioned the sequel to CR, and a fleshed out plotline of 2.5 hours would've been ideal. But nonetheless, the connective tissue is still there and I can appreciate the film's individual flair. It's quite entertaining.
My thoughts exactly, sharpshooter.
One of the highlights of CR for me was that the plot felt fleshed out-- as did the characters and the Bond-Vesper relationship. Putting effort into making Vesper more than just your average Bond girl elevated the film from simply a great Bond flick to an iconic entry.
With QoS, given that it was intended to be a direct sequel to CR (we've never had so many recurring characters in the vein of Felix, Mathis, and White), the revenge / personal aspect seems to have been shoved to the side in favor of a somewhat half-baked "stealing Bolivia's water supply" concept. If there was ever a film to showcase Bond driven by revenge, it was this one.
But, as you said, QoS does work on its own merits, and adds some good stuff to the Bond universe.
It's the comparisons to CR which really hurt it.
Ironically, I often lament the "this time it's personal" aspect which has pervaded the past few entries. Yet this was the one film (apart from LTK) where that type of concept did not feel shoe-horned in. The personal elements should have been applied in larger doses. A real missed opportunity, in my mind. If there was a way to remove some of the personal emphasis in SP and transfer it to QoS, both films would benefit tremendously.