Monday evening was my wife's work night out for Christmas. Realise that ordinarily I wouldn't seriously consider attending one of these, as an evening out with a bunch of medics is quite a special experience. But when the night out takes the form of hiring a cinema screen to watch the new Bond, well then I can make an exception.
It's a new kind of Bond film, and all the better for it. If you can describe a film based on such a fantastic idea (I hope) as more realistic, then this one is.
Bond films gloss over the violence inherent in the idea of a man with a licence to kill, but this one doesn't. It's quite raw, and a little brutal in places. Definitely gone is Brosnan's comic-book spy - Daniel Craig plays James Bond as dark man with a chilling detachment from the violence. He's accused of being nothing more than a thug, and you know that in the back of his mind he realises that this is true.
It takes a little bit of brain-twisting, timeline-folding gymnastics to end up with a James Bond in the early days of his career taking on is first mission as a double-O in the summer of 2006, but it's worth it. This is a whole new Bond, think Bruce Wayne's reinvention in Batman Begins. It's probably controversial to say this, but it's a better Bond, too. The bright colours of early Connery don't work anymore, and Brosnan escapism got tired (fun though it was). Casino Royale gives us the dark, fragile Bond who pulls the trigger without thinking but shows the scars for it.
The stunts and cars are all happily present - an early free running chase, and the obligatory Aston Martin are great fun to look at - but they aren't the heart of this film. Daniel Craig is James Bond, there's no doubt, and if his first time out is anything to go by, he will be the best yet.