Another Bond film, another welter of 007-related media coverage. This time round, the most edifying of the lot comes at Vulture.com, the entertainment wing of New York magazine, which enlists a World Bank economist, Jean-Jacques Dethier, to examine “which Bond villain plans would have worked (and which not)” had Ian Fleming’s agent not got in the way.
Not all Bond films feature villains seeking pecuniary gain, explains Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri (in Skyfall, for example, “the bad guy … is obsessed primarily with revenge and humiliation”). But plenty do, and Dethier assesses which of Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, A View to a Kill, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace “have fulfilled their dreams of financial glory”?
In Goldfinger, the eponymous villain plots to detonate an atomic bomb at the US Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, irradiating their gold and causing his own stockpile to skyrocket in value.
“Goldfinger’s plan is fairly solid,” Dethier tells– though it might have been better targeted at the Fed building in New York, which holds “the vast majority of the gold in the US”.
Max Zorin in A View to a Kill might want to rethink his scheme to trigger a massive earthquake in Silicon Valley so that he can monopolise the microchip manufacturing market, however. Chiefly because “microchips aren’t actually manufactured in Silicon Valley”.
Dethier is just as unpersuaded by the viability of Alex Trevelyan’s plan in Goldeneye to electronically steal millions from the Bank of England before destroying the joint with an electromagnetic pulse. Trevelyan would find it near impossible to exchange such a large sum, says Dethier, especially given the state in which the Bank is left.
“So he would have to spend all those pounds in the one country that’d take them: Britain,” Ebiri concludes. “Whose economy he’s just destroyed.”
Now, where are the physicists?