Quantum of Solace

Strangely enough, I wasn’t really looking forward to Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond offering. In South Africa, movie critics roundly labelled the movie as dull, muttering that the artsy German director couldn’t “do” action, and they hinted darkly that the demise in standards marked the end of the Bond franchise globally. 

So to be honest, I was really pleasantly surprised. I mean, it’s not an outstanding film, and some of the more talkative moments feel awkward and they’re poorly lit. But it’s still got a enough of the old Bond legacy (cars, girls, glamorous locations) to make it striking, whilst moving ahead with the newer, grittier, brawlier Bond of the Daniel Craig era.

Taking up the story immediately after the death of Vesper in the previous film, Bond starts hunting down the people responsible for her death. The journey takes him from Siena to Haiti (with Panama playing grubby stand-in), then to Austria and finally to the deserts of Bolivia, where the criminal mastermind – weedy, nasty Dominic Greene – is undertaking a cunning plan to monopolise scarce water supplies.

So it’s got Bond islands, and Bond car chases along mountain roads and it’s got Bond hotel rooms and Bond girls at champagne-swigging parties. The most striking location is perhaps Greene’s eco-hotel in the desert – which is actually the space-age workers’ quarters at the Paranal Observatory, high in the Atacama Desert, Chile. There’s more at The Times on how to travel like Bond, and Nubricks goes a step further with ideas on how to buy property in the various locations. No gadgets in this movie though.

The Mighty One

Documenting a 1952 road trip from Buenos Aires, through Patagonia, up through Chile and the Atacama Desert, Macchu Picchu in Peru, the Amazon and ultimately Caracas in Venezuela, the movie The Motorcycle Diaries could have run like a NatGeo South American travelogue. Filming in over 30 locations (many of them haven’t changed much in the last half century) it is indeed breathtakingly beautifully realised.


And since it tracks young Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s growing awareness of injustice, his abhorrence of inequality, the germination of his belief that change could only come when heavily armed, it could also have been a worthy History Channel documentary. Perhaps that’s why I’d waited so long to sit down and watch it.

What I really didn’t expect was a funny, touching and essentially human cinematic rendition of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest icons. It’s passionate, witty and moving. The Mighty One is the jovial nickname given to the motorbike that carries Che (excellent Gael Garcia Bernal) and his friend Alberto on their travels. The Mighty One is what this journey made of Che. The movie is a haunting, moving, thought-provoking testament to this transformation.

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