It's really the second half of the movie that started with the second half of Casino Royale (which itself feels like two movies in a double bill). It also did kind of give me a Tomorrow Never Dies vibe. Only, you know, better.
I loved it. Mind you, I watched Casino Royale (best Bond movie ever) last night, and so it did feel like a solid entity to me. I went in kind of worrying - I'd heard all sorts of spoilers in the other thread that suggested it would just be filler, but came out feeling that I'd seen a great Bond movie. Not the best Bond movie, and I'll get to the negative points shortly, but a worthy Bond fix all the same.
Casino Royale so perfectly rebooted the series, and was so well done in and of itself, that really, nothing was going to live up to the hype that the previous movie had generated. At least not without Martin Campbell back as director.
So, the good:
Craig is perfect as Bond; excellent villain; great score; Olga Kurylenko was good; Mathis and Felix were great - I really felt we were getting to explore more of how these people came to be Bond's friends; the relationship with M; the action scenes, great chases and fights. The usual. Also, it was nice to see a real globe-hopping Bond again, with the plotlines unfolding in exotic locations.
Some posters had said on the other thread that it doesn't really go into Bond's character development, post-Vesper. They must have seen a different movie, or at least not in effect watched it with CR as a double-bill (and my advice is definitely to rewatch CR immediately beforehand. Standalone, this would rate a 7.5 or so, like TND, but together they're greater than the sum of their parts).
The main plot is actually pretty simplistic and very Moore-era - or indeed TND again, as it's all about trying to grab commodity rights - but the elements of what's driving Bond (revenge for Vesper? Or for M?) are much more subtly handled and brilliantly played. Yes, this does conclude things for the Vesper/betrayal thing, outright and explicitly, but just not sledgehammered in dialogue. It ends nicely, with the necklace, and with enough closure for Greene and company, but with the knowledge that Quantum, like SPECTRE in the old days, can come back anytime, but without making it actually necessary or dictating how they do.
There always used to be a running gag that Bond movies were always 20 minutes too long. Well, this time they left out the extra 20, and you don't feel short changed. It's just the right length. There are all manner of great little touches too, like the little discs going across in the titles presaging the gunbarrel (like how the white disc offers up Broccoli and Saltzman's names in OHMSS). It's a proper gunbarrel this time, though.
Well, the song still sucks, and doesn't really play any better over the titles. I'm unsure about the titles - I don't like the font used, which reminds me of late 1970s literary SF covers. Also, I'd really have put the gunbarrel at the start, not for form's sake but because a) it would have worked perfectly well at the beginning - just drop the long sweep in over the lake and there's a perfect shot of the Aston coming right at you that would have blended perfectly! and b) The end credits would have come up over the necklace in the snow - very poignant and reminiscent, thematically, of the last shot of OHMSS
For the first half-hour, the action scenes are not so well handled by Forster, and made me wonder if he was the right guy to helm it - aside from the overly-brief cuts detracting from the excellent choreography, there are some weird choices of framing. E.g.when Bond yanks the starter of a speedboat engine, we get a quick close-up not of his hand or the engine starting, but the knee of his trousers. WTF? However, it gets better after that!
Overall, though, I thought it was a thrilling, pulse-pounding ride with great performances (except for Gemma Arterton), lovely character moments, subtle wit (so subtle a lot of critics don't seem to have registered it!), and a believable journey for Bond's coming to terms with Vesper's death and what his lifestyle means.
I'm in two minds about the location-captions.
So, a rating?