Monday, April 06, 2009

Quantum Of Contracts...

Obviously I'm a little behind in my film going, since I'm just catching up with the latest James Bond effort, "Quantum Of Solace." It's packed with lots of action and James Bond witticisms, but there was one aspect of the movie that left me puzzled. I suppose this might qualify as a

SPOILER be warned.

A major plot point hinges on the villain convincing a skeezy South American dictator to "sign over" the rights to a huge plot of desert in said dictator's country, in return for various nefarious machinations to keep El Dictator in power. It turns out that the (rather dull witted) dictator thought the desert land was worthless, but our bad guy had found massive amounts of water under the sand. Water that, if controlled by him, would give him power and leverage and all that villainous stuff.

So the dictator eventually (and reluctantly) signs off on the deal, our villain goes "mwah ha haaa" with his freshly minted documents and I'm left thinking -- huh? That bad guy certainly has an inordinate amount of faith in whatever legal system exists in South American dictatorships. Does he honestly think a signature on some scrap of paper is going to be upheld by whatever courts uphold that sort of thing? Sure, there's some chat about "the Quantum" league or group (or whatever the hell they call their criminal cabal) getting medieval on the dictator's ass if he doesn't fall into line, but if threats were all it took to make the deal, why bother with paperwork in the first place?

There are a lot of people who think getting a "signed contract" makes all the difference in the world when it comes to business, but in my experience, contracts are only as good as the parties who sign them and the courts willing to enforce them. If one side or the other decides to renege on a deal, for whatever reason, then generally the side with the most financial wherewithal will triumph. I've certainly had my share of signed contracts that turned out to be unenforceable, and those were usually with fairly reputable corporations, not murderous South American dictators...

Since it was a James Bond movie, the good guys won the day anyway, so we didn't get the sequel, "Quantum Of Courtcase Docket #324589." But I'm sure it would have been exciting!