Friday, November 14, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Fantastic: An Economist Reviews the New James Bond Film

First the bad.

The opening chase seen in Quantum of Solace is probably the worst opening chase scene of any Bond movie. It's a car chase, whose reasonable facsimile, you have seen in anyone of a dozen films. It is definitely not up to Bond standards.

A second problem with the film is the sometimes quirky camera angles, which to me were more irritating than interesting.

The Good.

Your average Bond junkie is going to like this film for its standard fare. The action scenes improve markedly after the opener, and, of course, the women (Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton) are gorgeous.

The Fantastic

But, here's the kicker for any student of economics, the movie is a must see, and not because of the women, but because of the plot and dialogue.

For some time after the opening scene, I wondered if there even was any plot or dialogue, since there are two more action sequences after the opener.

But once the plot starts to be revealed, and the dialogue begins, here's what you learn. The villain of the movie is a "save the planet" environmentalist! Appropriately named Mr. Greene.

But then it gets better.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is in Haiti and the dialogue briefly touches on the former President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and his increasing the minimum wage, which caused the CIA to overthrow him. Indeed, in exile, Aristide to this day claims it was U.S. agents, during a second coup, that forced him to leave Haiti.

So score two for the Bond writers, Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. But it continues down an interesting path from here. At least one of the writers has to have some familiarity with the John Perkins' book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and also some of the writings of Milton Friedman.

Through out the movie, the writers have the CIA in the background and in bed with all kinds of bad guys. And then they pull a Milton Friedman and have the good CIA agent say to Bond, "Haven't you heard, there is no such thing as a free lunch?"

And finally, as the piece de resistance, one of the bad guys asks to be paid in Euros because the dollar is going lower, he says because of the costs of the war. Don't get me wrong. There are no long intellectual economic analyses in this film, but for economists and students of economics this movie is one long stream of economic innuendos and asides from a generally free market point of view with government and their corporate cronies as the bad guys.

Note: The one point where some may interpret a non-free market tone is in the mention of Aristide's hike in the minimum wage. But, again, this is a James Bond film not a dissertation and the point that is trying to be made is the CIA'a intervention to help out corporate cronies, rather than a full commentary on the minimum wage. The writers deserve overall credit for understanding the role of government and crony capitalism, especially that it can exist within the Greenie-Industrial Complex.

No comments:

Post a Comment