LOS ANGELES (AP) _ James Bond is still in a foul mood over that whole dead girlfriend thing from "Casino Royale." But the man who plays him is as happy as can be.
Even as Daniel Craig ticks off all the injuries he sustained shooting "Quantum of Solace," he gushes about what a great job he has, updating the world's most-famous spy for a new era.
Craig's delivery as a raw, angry young 007 in "Casino Royale" has silenced the critics, though he suffered months of online slings and arrows leading up to the release of that 2006 hit.
Fans didn't think he looked like Bond. They carped that his predecessor, Pierce Brosnan, should have had the chance to do another Bond flick or two. And they definitely didn't feel Craig, a stage-trained actor with little action experience, could act like Bond.
"It is kind of name-calling at it's very basic level," the 40-year-old British actor recalled in an interview. "I understood the passion. Believe me, I do understand the passion. These movies mean a lot to people. I get it. But they mean a lot to me, as well. I don't feel out of place in this equation.
"To respond to the criticism would have been the wrong thing to do. I'm sure some of it's still out there, but you can't please all the people."
Based on early results for "Quantum of Solace," the caretakers of Bond have managed to please most of the people.
In advance of its U.S. release Friday, the movie has been out in theaters overseas for two weekends, debuting as the No. 1 film in every country where it played and hauling in $160 million.
"Quantum of Solace" picks up where "Casino Royale" left off, with Bond in such a vengeful mode over the loss of his lover that he goes rogue in pursuit of a shadowy group linked to her death.
Craig's Bond shares great interplay with spymaster M (Judi Dench) and teams with a woman (Olga Kurylenko) on her own revenge mission as they track a phony environmentalist (Mathieu Amalric) trying to corner a South American water supply.
The new movie expands on the makeover begun with "Casino Royale," in which the randy, sexist Bond of old gave way to a physically meaner but emotionally vulnerable man capable of having his heart broken.
In "Quantum of Solace," Bond doesn't even drink his trademark martini, and he forgoes his cliched self-introduction, "Bond, James Bond."
"It needs to be refreshed," Craig said. "If it's just done where you tick off the boxes, OK, there, martini, 'Bond, James Bond,' and all that, it feels kind of a parody of itself.
"And I think because of 'Austin Powers,' that didn't help. Very funny movies, but they have not helped the cause. He almost reinvented the whole genre by making fun of it. ... We now have to kind of reinvent it again, so someone else can parody it. And I'm sure they will, very rapidly."
"Quantum of Solace" runs well under two hours, the shortest in Bond history ("Casino Royale" ran nearly 40 minutes longer). Yet director Marc Forster, himself a target of fan gripes for his lack of action experience, packs "Quantum of Solace" with car chases, explosions, close escapes and a lot of hand-to-hand combat.
Promoting the film, Craig still bore signs of the toll the six-month shoot took. His right arm was in a sling from surgery to repair his injured shoulder. He got kicked in the face during a stunt and had to have eight stitches. In another scene, he "lost about a postage stamp worth of skin" on one of his fingers and had to have the wound cauterized at the emergency room.
While he also took his lumps filming "Casino Royale," Craig found each injury on "Quantum of Solace" grabbing headlines.
"There was this whole deal going on because it was like the curse of Bond," Craig said. "We had a very serious accident on the set. A stuntman was injured very badly. Thank God, he's absolutely fine now."