That Man Bolt

Jefferson Bolt is in a Macao hoosegow, practicing his karate moves, when he’s sprung and asked to transport a satchel full of money. He agrees, because they’re holding his passport. In Los Angeles, his contact tells him there’s a change in plans (he identifies the man from a snapshot in his cigar case, and with the help of special zoom-in sunglasses). Quick as a wink the L.A. contingent is neutralized, so Bolt takes their posh car to Vegas where it’s registered (to Casino Enterprises). On the way, he stops to have a look at his cargo. Is it funny? His friends in Vegas say yes. Naturally, he pulls a few bills and floats them on the tables, where they are an instant success, while he renews acquaintance with the lounge singer. She dies in his arms from an assassin’s bullet, and now it’s back to where the deal was arranged in the first place, on this side of the Macao-Hong Kong ferry.

The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are the main models. Robbe-Grillet’s Trans-Europ-Express has the same lineage, no doubt. Aside from Fred Williamson’s dapper poise, and the counterfeit he’s shipping (to what end?), the most striking thing about That Man Bolt is the astonishing speed of it all. It seems to let down only once, when Bolt is sipping tea with his girl by the pool overlooking Aberdeen or Kowloon, until a few words of hers send his mind reeling with recognition and he stares over his teacup, a sunny day gone cloudy with hints of lightning.