07 November 2008

The slick trigger finger for Her Majesty

Just back from a daytime trip to the cinema where a rollicking 106min of James Bondlyness was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

In a concerted effort to be positive, upbeat and less negative about the global injustices of the world I thought I would immerse myself in a bit of light and fluffy escapist fantasy for the afternoon. I realise that as you read this you might not have yet seen Quantum of Solace, so I will put your mind at ease and not reveal any spoilers. But there are one or two things that I would like to point out that I don't think will ruin anything for you.

The first thing of note is that in a continuation from Casino Royal there is a decided lack of outrageous gadgets. No submarines-disguised-as-crocodiles, no diamond-powered-space-lasers, no exploding bolas. Instead we have an array of items that (theoretically) could be purchased by any one of us, but given a few slight tweaks. The most impressive of this is the use by MI6 of Microsoft's Surface, and what looks suspiciously like Perceptive Pixel's Interactive Media Wall (a snip at $100,000 from Neimen Marcus, though they might just have stolen it from CNN's Election Center now that the whole hoopla has died down). This bucks the usual cinematic trend of hi-tech labs being populated exclusively by iMacs and 23" Apple displays.

The lack of Apples in MI6's HQ probably explains why one of M's aides can be later seen using a Sony Vaio UX outside, an interesting choice given the fact that I'm pretty sure the line has been discontinued. As the proud owner of a UX for the last 18 months, I can honestly say if MI6 rely on them for intelligence work it explains a lot, an awful lot. The UX is typical Sony, looks good but is impossible to actually use, being crippled with Vista that is too big and ungainly to run properly, has a keyboard that would cause the fingers of even the 6 year old Chinese child that built it to cramp and bleed within minutes, and has a battery life that would just about get you from your desk to your Aston Martin DB5 before magically transforming the UX into a $2,500 1.2lb paper weight (not what I paid for mine I hasten to add, that's just the price of the only model left, the 'premium' VGN-UX490N/C).

My advice to MI6, go for the Asus EEE PC instead, its lightweight, hardy (mine survived the jungles of Chiapas and the deserts of Black Rock, Nevada), open source and costs about a tenth of the price of the UX. Go on, the tax payer will thank you. Think of all the Media Walls you could buy with the savings, you could even sneak in a Reactable, no one would notice.

While I did find the choice of gadgets mildly entertaining, the film ultimately failed to distract me from the world's woes for the simple reason that the plot seems to have been written by someone with the exact same bookshelf as me; think Naomi Klein's 'Shock Doctrine'" crossed with John Perkin's 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman'. About halfway through the film I was starting to believe that the dastardly villain was actually the IMF, and by the time Daniel Craig drove off into the sunset in a hydrogen fuel cell Ford I was certain of it. All that was missing was a few chants of "El pueblo unido..." as he gunned down the corrupt oppressors of the noble Bolivian alpaca herders.

Damn it, not even Hollywood fluff can momentarily sooth my leftist guilt and ire.

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