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Quantum of solace


The makings of a spy, part two

In the sequel, Bond wants justice. Precious little pleasure remains. The good itself becomes problematic. The public good appears for the first time – Bond is trying his hardest to do good for his country – but the actors in this plot seem doomed to fail or bound to sacrifice their lives. Bond’s only friend dies to help Bond; his only lover is killed because of him. Both are failures as spies.

The action is straightforward: Bond’s quest for revenge reveals more & more the price he has to pay for the justice he seeks. In parallel, M cuts off his resources & his connection to his country, showing that whatever Bond now achieves he will have achieved alone. The ugliness of necessity becomes overbearing. Then there is a break in the pattern: Bond comes to learn something which M does not know. There is a secret organization of criminals. This is extraordinary.

Bond seems to learn how much the country needs him, which in the end M admits, by learning how weak national security really is, how easy not only to live outside the law, but to corrupt it gradually, almost undetected. His new knowledge is no accident: He alone moved, as if fated, toward the roots of injustice. He alone confronted the root of tragedy in the public good.

In the end, we learn how Bond got involved in this quest, as he abandons the keepsakes of his lost love. The criminals, unlike the government, understand how important eros is to corruption. People fall in love & abandon the law. They desperately want something good, the forgetfulness happiness requires, they become willing to commit crimes. Perhaps Bond learns more about human nature from the criminals than from M. All his illusions lost, he tells M he never left her.

The break in the pattern of Bond chasing criminals that have annoyed him to their deaths occurs not only because there are too many criminals for one man to kill, but because Bond eventually learns about crime. He sees criminals wherever he goes, whatever the laws there, always concerned with their private good. They resemble Bond in that they have an awareness of necessity – they know how to get what they want from people.

The perfect criminal, it turns out, is Bond. He learns to think like criminals first in order to hide, then in order to scare them into making themselves visible. Bond disappears behind his thinking. Whereas his nemesis looked like fate before, now Bond looks like fate. This explains Bond’s previous success: He proved to criminals that they do not trust each other. It is easier for Bond to expose criminals than for criminals to expose the laws.

Another strong showing for Daniel Craig & James Bond.