Quantum of Solace : James Bond Goes Green!

The new Bond movie, out today, is good. Not quite Casino Royale good, but still good: tons of great action scenes, and more of Daniel Craig's glowering young 007, an anti-playboy who kicks ass and seduces women with ruthless efficiency. ("I can't find the stationary," he says--and, whoops, she's in bed with him.)

This second Craig installment in the refreshed franchise couldn't care less about weapons of mass destruction. It's all about controlling resources--namely, water and oil. Oil is the new gold, and the scene in which the corpse of a beautiful, naked woman is found on a hotel bed, embalmed in oil, is an obvious allusion to Goldfinger. (Thankfully, there's no villain named Oilfinger. That would just be gross.) In a scene in the foreign ministry, the film takes a moment to basically blurt out that the West's thirst for petroleum prevents it from taking the morally correct course abroad--the consequence being that Bond (once again) has to go rogue for awhile to do the right thing. He also gets a bit unconventional in his choice of vehicles: after an opening-scene car chase featuring the obligatory Aston-Martin, Bond swaps it for a motorbike, a couple of compact cars, and finally a Ford hybrid SUV.

The movie's main plot twist, though, is that water is the new oil. French baddie Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) is not after oil, as everything assumes, but Bolivia's water supply. In the movie's most artful set piece, his ultra-secretive cabal gathers at a performance of Tosca for an earpiece conversation. (Bond, of course, finds a way to listen in.) "This is the most precious resource in the world," one of them says. I almost laughed out loud when Greene (get it?) threatens to cut off a dictator's balls if he doesn't give him a utilities contract. But it kind of makes sense. And I was happy to see there's nothing here like the shower scene from Casino Royale--touching, to be sure, but so much wasted water!

I don't mean to take this whole eco-friendly thing too far. Quantum is, after all, an action movie, full of gas-guzzling chases involving boats and, at one point, an enormous cargo plane. All those wrecked vehicles aren't doing any good for the environment. And It's also worth pointing out that there's kind of green in this up-to-date Bond flick that's very out of fashion. It comes up when the bad guys deliver a suitcase of cash to that nasty dictator: "In euros, as requested."