Over the years, Bond films have become more and more focused not on the eponymous character himself, but rather on the Bond girls, the Bond cars, the gadgets and the over-the-top villains. So it's something of a surprise that with almost all of this paired down to its bare bones, Bond still doesn't take the limelight in this installment.
That honour goes to the man behind Bond: Craig, Daniel Craig. In the months leading up to the film's release, he's been thoroughly scrutinized, and everything from his hair and eye colour to his (apparent lack of) car driving skills have been criticized. And as this installment was very-much a character driven Bond movie, fleshing out Bond perhaps more than the previous 20 combined, many didn't believe Craig could pull it off.
But pull it off he did. Craig is not your typical suave, slick, one-liner spewing dark-suited hero - nor is he meant to be. This is something of a Bond Begins, as we follow a muscle-headed Bond being given 00-status, and face a series of character building exercises that eventually turn him into a character closer to the one we know and love.
I say a 'series of character building exercises', I mean: fights on top of moving cranes, high speed chases through airports, high-stakes poker games, torture scenes, brutal fights in public toilets and so on. For all its posturing as a more understated Bond film, there is still plenty of overblown action sequences to munch your popcorn to - they just dont feature INVISIBLE CARS this time round.
It's not all plain sailing though. The film struggles to maintain tension after the somewhat anti-climactic card-game on which the film is centered around, and there are shades of Attack of the Clones about some of the love scenes.
However, that's all very much excusable, in the face of otherwise stellar action sequences, and an excellent start from Daniel Craig. It may not be the best Bond film ever, but it's certainly the best blockbuster of the year.