So there I am sitting with the boxset of Bond movies but never watched the last two 'Casino Royale' and 'Quantum Of Solace'. The main reason for this is that every reviewer and his grandmother have made negative comments.
In the light of 'Skyfall' I dragged both movies from their niche and watched them back to back. Quite a revelation that was too.
CASINO ROYALE - First off the full essence of Ian Fleming's novel is there. As with the book so the centre of the story circles around the clash between Bond and Le Chiffre at the card table of the casino. Of course, in the current climate, Le Chiffre's back story had to be changed but the result is the same.
Set against this is Bond's relationship with Vesper Lynd. As with the book there is a frosty chauvinistic moment that develops into something deeper.
Simply put 'Casino Royale' brought the original novel to life.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE - Continues from where 'Casino Royale' left off.
Bond is a driven man looking for revenge and needs to get Vesper Lynd out of his system. There is a new menace out there - an organisation that MI6 know nothing about. Enter Dominic Greene and his Green Earth project and embrace gullible corporations and governments to bend to his will. He counts on the greed of others to back him and not interfere in his projects. Create a drought and take control of the water - charge high rates (something that we see happen every day).
Whereas, his country seems to turn their back on him, Bond still serves his country and is patriotic in his own way.
The saving grace for Bond is in the character of the feisty Camille who, too, is looking for revenge.
The fortunate thing is that the consistency of Daniel Craig's Bond is in 'Skyfall'.
I really cannot fathom the negativity that went with the first two films.
I'll re-phrase that - the Bond that we are used to is Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan; gimmicks, gadgets, jokes and a host of Bond girls. All light hearted action/adventure movies and that is what we are used to.
Nor are the new batch of movies darker. The 'he disagreed with something that ate him' wry humour is still there. Nor is this a re-birth or a re-born version; this is the real James Bond - the one that Ian Fleming created.
And, maybe, now that the third movie is out there people are getting a touch more comfortable with this image.
'Casino Royale' was written way back in 1953 when kids like me should never have got their hands on that sort of book. Though, to be honest, it was perhaps a couple or more years later when I got the paperback. At the time, though, it both fascinated and was hated for the sex and sadism that has always ridden with it.
One of the key scenes was the torture of Bond by Le Chiffre - and in itself explains why the movie version has been a long time coming. Back in 1962 such a reproduction on film wouldn't have got by the British Board Of Film Censors. Nor can I see any of the previous Bond's getting their kit off - they would have a gadget and a one liner to get them out of the situation before the the seat was cut out of the wicker chair.
I suppose that the thing here is that the 'purists' didn't get the Bond that they wanted to see - and I did. In the process, I discovered that 'Casino Royale' could develop from a book to film - but it needed the right actor and climate for it to happen.
James Bond is moving on - the three movies together have announced that this is the end of the 'old' and the new is on the way. All this is in the 'Skyfall' script. Meanwhile, Mr.White is still around and the question remains who is with Quantum and who is against.
And I liked the tip of the hat to Goldfinger in 'Quantum Of Solace' - the bit where Strawberry Fields learned that The Rolling Stones meant every word of that song.
If there was anything bad about 'Quantum Of Solace' it is the lousy title song - not really a Bond theme.