As the latest 007 movie, Quantum of Solace, opened in the UK before it did here in America I'd read several reviews and comments about this not being a 'Bond' movie, but I'm glad to say that those reviews were wrong in my eyes.
I'll agree with the view that at some times the film felt like it borrowed a lot from the recent Bourne spy action-thrillers (rooftop chases and intense hand-to-hand combat), but there was still enough of the old British Bond magic left in this new outing.
I'm not the biggest Bond fan, having grown up overdosing on the obligatory James Bond movie on TV every Bank Holiday, Easter and Christmas, but Pierce Brosnan brought me back to the franchise with Goldeneye and Daniel Craig clinched the deal in his skimpy swimming trunks and amazingly buff body in Casino Royale.
Taking up the plot from the end of the last movie, Quantum of Solace, moves forward at breakneck speed with a superb car chase opening sequence which left me as queasy as the vertigo inducing crane chase in Casino Royale (whilst my other half was slightly appalled at the sight of the Aston Martin being shot to pieces).
For me what makes this a Bond film, even with all its extremely high velocity action quota this movie, is the great on screen chemistry between Daniel Craig and Judy Dench. Dame Judy as M, is just fab and she simply inhabits the role and makes it utterly convincing. Their interaction also helps supply a lot of the Brit charm of the movie.
There are obviously other nods to Bond-ness. As ever, 007 does a fair amount of globe-trotting and I was very excited to see the streets of Siena in Italy featured at the start of the movie (it's always great when you can say "I've been there").
There's also the Bond babes and the fact that one of them (Gemma Arterton as Ms. Fields) gets murdered, this time covered in oil rather than gold in an homage to Goldfinger. Plus in keeping with the realism of the first Craig movie, the wacky gadgets are replaced with believable near real-life technology which helps strike the same super advanced espionage tone.
I also liked Olga Kurylenko as Camille, Bond's latest female sidekick, as she seemed much more exotic and much less sleazy than she has in her previous roles in Hitman and Max Payne. Her fight scene at the end of the movie with General Medrano was convincingly brutal and cathartic.
The plot, whilst unfathomable to some, seemed pretty intriguing to me. An ultra secret society of powerful international types who get what they want, not through big doomsday weapons, but through guile and global manipulation - controlling oil and water supplies, destabilising countries and replacing governments. It sounds just like what the 'Developed World' leaders do overtly and I'm sure clandestinely all the time. So maybe not such an apocalyptic threat, but certainly a much more relevant danger to modern day James Bond.
Even though he's mostly fueled by revenge for the murder of Vesper in this movie, Bond lays that ghost to rest when he tracks down her alleged kidnapped 'boyfriend' and exposes his serial manipulation scam.
You get the feeling at the end of this movie, that 007 is now in the right mental frame of mind to go after the other members of Quantum and take them down hard - in the next film perhaps?
And before I go I'd just like to mention that even though Daniel Craig disappointingly fails to strip down to his skimpy speedos, he still looks mighty impressive in his tight trousers and fills out his Tom Ford tailored suit nicely.
We can only hope for more tropical beach action in the next installment...