By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn November 19, 2008 at 10:57AM
James Bond is a drug. He, it, this suavely hyperbolic object of cinematic momentum, has been one of the most powerfully consistent opiates in the history of the medium. Why, then, should anyone dilute the formula? Let's be clear: Casino Royale refined the ingredients. All its nifty pieces were in place with such persistent, authentically intelligent alignment than even 007 newbies had to exclaim that this was some good shit, man. But once you fuck with the inherent elements that make Bond into the satisfying high he has become time after time, the result is a sleek, empty vehicle with plenty of velocity, but no satisfying charge.
Such is the case with Quantum of Solace: No steady female coupling; just two elusive ladies and a dead one whose absence haunts the plot (an earlier Bond character, unless its M, should not reoccur in Bondland, an adrenaline-baked universe of continual forward-motion). No diabolical madman with obscenely inefficient schemes for conquering the world; just a wimpy thief named Dominique Green. And no catchphrases! No "shaken...not stirred." No "Bond...James Bond." Um, why the hell not? Is it somehow perceived to be an act of countercultural subversion to reject the aspects of the character that have always made him innately cool? Without this essence intact, Solace feels like an empty coffin for a Bond that never existed in the first place. "There's something strangely efficient about you," he's told after another unmemorable sequence where the bad guys get blandly taken out. "Is that a compliment?" he shoots back. No, dude, it's not.