In the original Bond series, only a handful of films really attemptedto touch base with the novels of Ian Fleming. "Dr. No" showed theFleming feeling for character and action, but introduced elements tothe plot that detracted from the 'hard-boiled' spy story that Flemingthought he was writing; "Thunderball" came close, but that was becauseFleming developed the story on commission for the film. "On HerMajesty's Secret Service" had the book's plot pretty down pat, and wasmade in a kind of 'grand adventure' style, but of course it sufferedfrom the choice of Lazenby - a professional model, not an actor - asBond. "The Living Daylights" showed the producers' interest inreturning to the roots, but Dalton was uncomfortable playing Bond, anduncomfortable with the wisecracks which had become part of thecharacter's schtick - and which were really badly written for theDalton films. "Goldeneye" was admirable attempt to update the Flemingmilieu for the end of the Cold War, but left the character himself asyet without an 'updated' definition.<br><br>The decision to make a 21st Century version of Fleming's first Bondnovel - and, beyond the update, to remain true to the novel, sans comicpatter, sans sci-fi techno-schtick, sans major rewrite of the basicplot - promised to present Bond fans of all ages with a directchallenge. Do we want the hard-boiled spy Fleming first envisioned -patterned after Chandler's Philip Marlowe and W. Somerset Maughm'sAshenden ("or: The British Agent")? Or would we really rather have thesuave stand-up comedian and Playboy magazine contributor introduced byBroccoli, Maibaum, Young, and company, in the second Connery film,"From Russia With Love"?<br><br>Well, the votes are still being tallied on that.<br><br>As someone who came to Bond reading "Goldfinger" at the tender age oftwelve (the phrase "round, firm, pointed breasts" has been aninspiration to me since), the closer the films came to the sense of thenovels, the happier I was.<br><br>So of course, this version of Bond is a joyous surprise for me - myyouthful daydreams have been vindicated and at last fully satisfied.There are indeed elements added to the plot, but they are completelycongruent with it. There is the use of current technology, but notechno-schtick - i.e., no Q. and no "gadgets". There are the lusciousBond babes (2 - the minimum Bond requirement), but there is no attemptto reduce them to photogenic sex-toys.<br><br>Fleming's plot actually requires the film's addition of some heavyaction sequences (all done very snappy, with a brutally realisticedge), because the novel is very claustrophobic; the original TVversion of the story (1955, with Barry Nelson as 'Jimmy Bond'), onlyused three indoor sets, because it could - except for the car chase andan attempted bombing at an outdoor café, Fleming's novel took placealmost entirely within Bond's hotel suite and the gaming room. Thefilm's opening this novel out to the world is actually quite welcome,and does not affect the central plot or its theme.<br><br>The character of Bond presented in this film may disappoint followersof the original films, but the news is, this is FLEMING's Bond - anorphan uncertain of his own identity, a disillusioned romantic tryinghard to pretend he's incapable of emotions, a middle class,middle-brow, middle-level management type who just happens to killpeople for a living. But he does it extremely well.<br><br>The other problem some general viewers may have is the level ofviolence in the film; having determined to film the novelrealistically, director Martin Campbell has decided to ditch the'B-movie' violence of most of the earlier films, and present us theviolence with a hard 'British neo-noir' edge to it. Given the romanticplot twist toward the end, this would be a perfect date movie - exceptthat the violence left some of the female viewers in the theater Iattended clearly unsettled. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it justis part of the gestalt of the film's experience.<br><br>Cambell's direction is very good; the writing is crisp; productionvalues are very high; the photography is stunning. Some of the stuntwork is truly remarkable, worthy competition for Jackie Chan. Theacting is rock-solid and believable for these characters. There isplenty of muscle for the action-film fan, and some real brains for themore general viewer to ponder later. <br><br>This film is best viewed with minimal reliance on knowledge of theprevious series. In fact, it functions perfectly well as a 'one-off', afilm without a series.<br><br>But of course, the ending invites a sequel. In Godzilla terms, Conneryand Moore having given us the 'showa' Bond, Dalton and Brosnan the"Heisei" Bond, we now have the "Millenium" series James Bond - not aprequel nor even a 'reboot', but, really, an entirely new series aboutthe same character. It is probably too much to hope for, but maybe theycan make the sequels just as good as this.<br><br>As a genre film it never quite lifts above its genre; so normally Iwould only give it "nine stars" as a film.<br><br>However, as a film within its genre, it is top-of-the-line - so it getsa ten.