Quantum of Solace

Posted by Marc Hodak on November 17, 2008 under Movie reviews | Be the First to Comment

Someone needs to let director Marc Forster know that a Bond film doesn’t have to pace itself like a kaleidoscopic zebra stampede. There is such a thing as gratuitous action. Forster and the writers seem terribly constrained by the need to try to convince their audience that their main character is in mortal danger all the time. They toss up an endless series of close-shave death matches, and manic, nick-of-time escapes. When those become too predictable, they accelerate the pace with quick-cut scenes that become almost a blur. And then they blur them. And then add noise.

All this is basically a wasted, hopeless effort to overcome the thing that cannot be overcome in any Bond film–one’s certain knowledge that Bond can’t die. We know he can’t. No technical or cinematic wizardry can convince us otherwise. Really, they should just give up trying to convince us that Bond might lose a fight if they just throw enough unnamed extras at him, and instead provide some evidence of thoughtful, creative planning, and the exquisitely timed use of whiz-bang gadgetry that might allow us to suspend disbelief. Gives us back the clever Bond with cool toys.

Of course, the perennial problem with Bond flicks is the economic rationale supposedly motivating its villains. In this film, the Brits suspect that a shadowy organization fronting as a Big Green Project, led by the bug-eyed bad guy (played with admirable creepiness by Mathieu Amalric) is trying to horde something–like oil. Oil, you see, is critical to everything; so if someone can control oil, well, they can control everything.

I know what you’re thinking: but isn’t oil a fungible, globally available resource, so that if Russia or Venezuela simply stopped selling us their oil, we’d just end up paying marginally higher prices from less convenient producers, while they would make less money from less convenient customers? Posh. You merely have to assume a fragmented market. If we can’t get oil from one of our neighbors, the lights will simply go off.

At this point, one has to start wondering if this film isn’t a right wing conspiracy. A green, save-the-planet organization fronting for a cynical corporatist? A fragmented market for oil that plays into the hands of madmen? (Wasn’t that the mistaken rationale that got us into a pointless war?)

SPOILER ALERT below the fold

But wait. It turns out to be much worse than that (but, of course). The evil greenie corporation, in fact, is not hoarding oil; it’s hoarding water! Yes, they have dammed up underwater springs representing 60 percent of Bolivia’s fresh water supplies. We see water trickling to a stop from a tank in the desert as indigenous people shrug in wonder. One can only wonder how much the bad guys spent in bribes and personal armies and assorted logistical support, not to mention a sufficient supply of pipes to alert the world markets that something big was going on under Bolivia. And a dam. From this massive, multi-billion dollar investment, the evil leader of the shadowy organization will reap the benefits of…overcharging Bolivians for water. Why that might be worth tens of MILLIONS! Wait. What’s the ROI of this nefarious scheme? It sounds like it was hatched by the same geniuses who foresaw a profitable American foray into Iraq.

All in, Quantum of Solace reveals less than a quantum of economic literacy. It’s not as good as Casino Royale. That may be, in part, a reversion to the mean; CR was an excellent film. Still, I think QOS overshot it on the way down.

Add A Comment