In awe of the amazing stunts, exotic locations, the adventurous life of a spy and the larger than life supervillians with super bases really captured my imagination. I turned to the novels and read most of them, starting with Live and Let Die and then moving onto On Her Majesty's Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, Dr. No and others, with the listed titles being my favorites. Some had supernatural elements (You Only Live Twice and Live and Let Die), others had fanciful monsters (Doctor No), all were larger than life. James Bond, Agent 007, was spy fiction series inflated into something much more, and spawned a genre of its own long before I was even born.
The movie that really made me interested in the series was The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton's first movie in the role of James Bond. I liked it much more than what I had seen before because I found Dalton to be the most like Bond in the novels, and I also liked the movie actually taking place around real world events, such as Russia's invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s (dare I say Bond teamed up with the Taliban to fight the Russian's at the films conclusion). It also had a much more interesting story than anything that was released before it.
After the next film, Licence to Kill the series went in hitatus and Dalton stepped out of the role. When Brosan relaunched the series in 1995 with my second favorite Bond movie of all time, Goldeneye, I came to realise that the films were just getting better and better, although by the end of Brosan's reign it had returned to some silly ideas that were prevalent in Roger Moore's mid-career point as the 007.
Brosan was perfect for the role, I so I thought until I saw Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig rebooting the series as Bond, and in my opinion the best actor ever to portrait the character (yes, better than Sean Connery in my opinion). It was the character and film closest to the book, the story was intelligent, the acting brilliant and the women (who had been evolving slowly from Dalton's era) were multi-dimensional and fascinating characters as well as being stunningly attractive. This film is one of my favorite movies of all time. It also had style, in look, locale and feel.
Quantum of Solace which followed directly from the events of Casino Royale was also very good. In both films the gadgets are gone, also the quips and one liners that are tired now, and in their place is a more brutal world and a more brutal Bond, more realistic I guess, yet with some fantastic stunts still in there, like the construction site chase in Madagascar openning Casino Royale, which will not be forgotten for some time.
The series unfortunately has been placed on hold was MGM (the film company that owns the rights to distribution) sort out their financial problems, but it now seems that a turning point has been reached, and Bond will return in 2012. I'm excited that the series is not dead, and that Rachel Weisz might be a villian in the next film. I can't think of a better actress (or actor) to join the series.
The James Bond series influenced me most in my writing of my Harrison Peel series, a former Australia Army spy turned NSA consultant who travels the world fighting Lovecraftian horrors in exotic locales such as the Congo, Venezeula, Cambodia, Chile, Pakistan, Antarctica and others, and up against spies and terrorists who would use these Lovecraftian horrors for their own ends. I also mix a lot of theoretical physics in there, such as quantum mechanics, wormholes, time travel, string theory and so forth. My next Peel adventure, The Eye of Infinity, is all the above, and yes, unashamably action pulp adventure in the styel of one of my favorite literary and cinematic creations, James Bond.