Despite the vaguely technical title, the latest James Bond installment, Quantum of Solace, is almost completely devoid of gadgets.
Gee-whiz gadgets have been a mainstay of the Bond oeuvre, from car ejection seats to lighters that convert into pistols, from watches with lasers to personal jetpacks. But with the “reboot” of the series starting with the last movie, Casino Royale, the film-makers have dramatically downplayed the use of devices as deus-ex-machina methods of getting Bond out of a jam.
I saw QoS last night (overall a solid B effort, not as good IMO as Casino Royale) and the only gadgets of significance that I noted were:
- A Minority Report/iPhone/Microsoft Surface type large scale interface featuring multi-touch, gesture- control and magical-connection-with-every-database-and-communication-system-on-earth. In a world where getting a smartphone to seamlessly hand off between GSM and Wi-Fi is fraught with difficulty, this is potentially boffo in a nerdy kind of way. But the whole touch-screen interface thing has already passed into cliche. Gee-whizz factor: 2 out of 5: Doesn’t cause dismemberment, seen it before.
- Digital cameras: I know, stretching here to find a gadget. There are only 2 reasons these are notable: The magical way in which they transmit photos and voice instantly back to MI6 in England (Eye-Fi card on steroids) and because they are made by Sony. Sony owns Columbia pictures… who made the movie. Gee-whizz factor: 1 out 5: Not exactly a giant leap for man kind.
- Facial recognition software: MI6 demo’d some software for taking the photos off the Sony Corp. digital cameras and recognizing the faces on them despite the fact that they were in a poorly lit avant garde stadium opera. Gee-whizz factor: 1 out of 5: MI6 needs to talk to a certain Crime Scene Investigators department in Las Vegas, Nevada, they’ve got better stuff.
- Ford Edges showed up in several scenes. (Ford was the official automotive supplier for the movie, and owns Aston Martin and used to own Land Rover, who’s vehicles also appear prominently, until it was sold to Indian Tata motors last year). The film-makers missed a gadget opportunity by not getting the Edge to dial up a suitable soundtrack using its Sync system while tearing down the narrow streets of an exotic city while being pursued by villains, however.
The film-makers have seemingly confined Bond gadget plot devices to the dustbin of history. Or perhaps they’ve just decided that it’s become impossible to compete with out-wowing real-life technology and they will rely instead on mundane technology and impossible action sequences.
The gadget that I want? The titanium skeletal structure and self-healing epidermis that James Bond obviously has been upgraded with. Or how else would he survive the insane beatings that he receives without so much as a slightly tussled hair and a few specks of blood above his eye? The Italian construction site fight scene is insane: I counted at least 47 points at which one or more bones should have been broken. Yet he walks out of it like the Robert Patrick T-1000 in Terminator 2, completely unscathed and not even breathing hard.
On a related note, here’s a Lego animation done to an Eddy Izzard skit about James Bond’s gadgets: