I went to the gorgeous Grand-Lake Theatre in Oakland tonight with wife and friends to see Quantum of Winter Solstice. I was totally expecting an educational film on astronomy, so the guns, car chases and boring villains were quite the surprise. However, I did take solace in the kick-out-the-jams performance of the organ player who rises up from the orchestra pit with his Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and then descends again just before the movie starts. That’s something you don’t get at the 38-screen multi-megaplex at the suburban mall.
Bond movies often have intriguing villains and well thought out storylines that meaningfully build to a climactic conclusion. Well, before the bit where Bond gets busy with the beauty pageant contestant, martial arts expert, nuclear physicist, gun/knife toting woman he’s been fighting/flirting with for most of the movie. Quantum Solace, in contrast, seemed to primarily be about Bond’s quest for revenge over a dead girlfriend being played out indirectly against a poorly explained pack of bad guys who seemed to be wedged sideways into the plot because there simply “has” to be an evil cabal in every Bond flick.
And usually the axis of evil has cooked up some plan that will result in the annihilation of huge numbers of people unless they get paid a huge ransom. Or will simply result in the annihilation of huge numbers of people because the bad guys are unrepentant misanthropes. However, Dominic Greene of the bashful evil supergroup Quantum has his sights set a bit lower. In the midst of arranging for a military coup in Bolivia, he tricks the new dictator into agreeing to pay double the going rate for municipal water.
WTF??? That’s the frickin’ evil plan? Is Quantum the secret name of EBMUD? After all, they raised our rates. I don’t think it was double, though. Heck, the real life Aguas del Tunari consortium in Bolivia raised rates by 35% after taking control of the water supply.
There’s has been a long history of water issues in Bolivia. In fact, when the little bit of a plot that was there played out and revealed a dictator trying to come back to power, I immediately thought of General Hugo Banzer.
An amusing aside for me was that Greene ends up being left by Bond to die in the Atacama desert (footage was shot in Chile rather than Bolivia) with a can of motor oil to drink when he gets thirsty. Many years ago Sandra and I were stranded in the Atacama desert when the truck that our guide was driving completely broke down before dawn on the way to the geysers near San Pedro de Atacama. Fortunately, the driver’s thermos of hot tea was more refreshing than motor oil. We also had to walk only about 7 miles before being picked up and brought back to town.