Vengeance : No Solace

The Quest for a ‘Quantum of Solace’

In ‘Quantum of Solace’, James Bond, the otherwise stereotyped one, runs amok somewhat. He loses his gentlemanly cool and ‘playboyishness’ quite a bit and makes out with only one girl, in a very brief scene. Yup, lots more violence; with almost no sex. A reflection of our gritty times? He becomes less of the same old Bond, because he had bound himself in indignation, with a wish for vengeance for a lost lover. Never before has this happened – Bond clinging to a past lover – from a previous instalment.

M, his MI6 supervisor warns him – that if he can no longer tell his friends from foes, it is time for him to quit the espionage business. Ominous truth… for Bond almost did not recognise that he was his greatest enemy when consumed by hate. In the typical Western silver screen model of solo heroism (which is really a kind of villainy too), he ravages through cities and establishments for revenge, leaving a wake of destruction behind, that rendered him wanted.

Duty and revenge become inextricably mixed; revenge became his duty. In fighting monsters, he almost became a full-fledged one himself. Becoming cold and dispassionate, his wanting to punish the guilty punished himself constantly. M however, while chiding him, was able to empathise with him, remarking thus – ‘He’ll be a pretty cold bastard who didn’t want revenge for the death of someone he loved.’ But is there even a quantum of solace in revenge sought? (‘Quantum’ refers to a minuscule amount.) Vengeance merely causes pain to the guilty; it doesn’t erase pain. But he was too blinded to see this. As Stonepeace put it –

If the guilty are remorseless, execution does no good.
If the guilty are remorseful, execution does evil itself.

Reformation is the answer; not revenge. Bond however, turns professional in the last mimute, and dissolves his personal grudges after apprehending the guilty… without killing. Yes, that’s the way it has to be – or there would be no more 007 sequels! Bond finally finds more than a quantum of solace…. in letting go… of hate. From the Dhammapada, as taught by the Buddha –

‘He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,’
in those who harbour such thoughts, hatred is not appeased