Friday, November 21, 2008

We Have People Everywhere

Quantum of Solace, the latest Bond flick, has already grossed over $320 million, so it's clearly striking the right nerve somewhere. To me, it's far better than the usual action picture, starting with Bond. But beyond the obvious, there's also an interesting worldview in evidence. First, it's not a black and white one, but rather as complex and shady as, say, HBO's gritty urban series, The Wire.

What strikes me most is the apparent empathy for the history of Latin America (including Haiti), and an acknowledgement of the historical exploitation of Latin American resources by the US and the West, in collaboration with local dictators. But Quantum of Solace also brings us up to speed to the here and now by acknowledging a shadowy network of trans-national machinations symbolized by "Quantum," itself a more insidious (and modernized) version of the SPECTRE crime syndicate featured in early Bond films. In today's Bond world, rich power brokers aim to extend their hegemony over natural as well as human resources, ideally achieving a new stranglehold over countries like Bolivia.

American governmental policies in Quantum of Solace (abetted by the British government, to some extent, but also in competition with it) are depicted as short-sighted, careless and reckless -- even in the waning days of the Bush-Cheney administration, and well-epitomized in the visible world by John R. Bolton, Bush's onetime choice for acting Ambassador to the United Nations.

I doubt it's an accident that buffoonish CIA Latin American chief Gregg Beam (played to oily perfection by David Harbour, who will also appear in Revolutionary Road) looks almost exactly like a younger version of John Bolton (their comically matching mustaches alone would do the trick). Jeffrey Wright's* Felix Leiter, by contrast, seems to represent the more sober realism of a career CIA operative, and also, perhaps, anticipates the more enlightened perspectives expected to come from the Barack Obama administration.

*(Coincidentally, he plays essentially the same role in Oliver Stone's W., as Colin Powell)

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.


Johnny Yen said...

My best friend Rocket Science and I have had many interesting conversations about Bond, both movie and book, over the decades of friendship. It's interesting who has played Felix. Jeffrey Wright is the second black guy to play Felix. If I remember correctly, Jack Lord played Felix Leitner in one of the movies.

I've heard nothing but good things about the new Bond movie. It's playing at the theater a couple of blocks form my home. I'll have to check it out.

Johnny Yen said...

Just looking at that post, it should have been "And if I remember correctly, Jack Lord..." Jack Lord is not black. He's McGarret.

MacGuffin said...

Quantum was pretty good, the only quibble I had with it was the bad guys seemed a bit anemic. Very nonthreatening, def not up to Craig's level of intensity. Still, a very enjoyable film.

Your Bolton observation made me laugh, I hadn't made that connection at all but I def see it. I was wondering why the character looked like such a douchebag!

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