And the verdict is -
I loved it.
The opening sequence felt a bit brief (like we were thrown into the middle of it and cut out too soon), and the theme song is truly awful. Rubbish. (Though mercifully brief, unlike Madge's which seemed terrible and looonnnng.)
And then -
Something magical happened. It became entrancing. I have no idea why Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo couldn't follow it - no, actually, I really do know. This feels totally like the second part of a trilogy. Before you go and see it (and you really should) you absolutely have to re-watch Casino Royale, or it will make NO sense. And there are two characters (one of whom I think we see for two seconds) who are clearly major for the plot - except that we don't see them any more - which is why it feels like part two of a trilogy: they will return, as James Bond always does.
Quantum of Solace is a title that feels a bit grandiose for a second part, but Quantum it turns out is the new organisation for the baddies, and QoS of course literally means "Crumb of Comfort", for which Bond is seeking following Vesper's death at the end of CR.
Does he find it? Watch the film! But the alternatives laid out for him are forgiveness and revenge, with emotional release and internal prison the results of the choices he makes. This makes for surprisingly intelligent Bond, emotional Bond, characterful Bond - as well as action-packed and visceral Bond.
There are nods to the past - a Goldfinger moment that was creepy, and even a little Q moment, though it wasn't dressed up as such. And the action in the Tosca sequence was a pure joy! (Always good to have some Puccini in a movie.)
Is Craig Bond? Hmm. He plays him as Eton misfit turned Special Forces turned MI6. He is a believable army officer serving in the role, though not at the top end of the social scale. I think that's a reasonable reading of Flemming, though a little rough. It's certainly better than Moore or Brosnan. He's not likeable, though the two funny lines of the film were well delivered and all the funnier for being so sparse.
Four stars. The fifth would have come with an opening that had a beginning and end as well as a middle, or a theme song that anybody (anybody) could sing. But I really loved it, and will be back to see QoS soon. Just remember - re-view Casino Royale first, or it will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.