Just how much can you figure out from an autopsy?
January 31, 2009 10:43 AM   Subscribe

[Science in Movies Filter] In the opera scene in Quantum of Solace, a bodyguard is shot immediately after being dropped of a roof by Bond.

MI6 gets the report that Bond shot him and then dropped him off the roof. Maybe I've been watching Bones too much, but is it at all possible to determine the order of the dropping and the shooting by examining the body?
posted by niles to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
I would guess that a bloody pulp with a nice entrance hole and a straight bullet track would be a giveaway that the shot was after the fall.
posted by Jakey at 10:50 AM on January 31, 2009

Oh noes, I had no idea people got shot/fell off buildings in James Bond movies. You've ruined everything!

I haven't seen the movie, but I'd agree with Jakey that if shot after the fall (after landing that is) you'd probably be able to tell.

If he was pushed, then shot while falling I don't think you'd be able to tell the difference between being shot then pushed.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:57 AM on January 31, 2009

Best answer: Getting off the spoiler derails.

If the agent was shot first there would be some blood splatter on the top of the roof and possibly along the wall, sprayed there as the agent fell. If he had shot on the ground, the floor underneath the agent should have suffered some minimal, but noticeable damage. Furthermore, if Bonds had shot him at close range, on the roof, there would be matching gun powder residue on both Bond and the dead agent. Finally some blood splatter work on the ground level should have given conclusive evidence, either away and even without blood evidence anywhere else (if Dexter is to be believed).

From examining just the body you should be able to determine the angle of entry of the bullet and deduce from that whether a man of Bond's height could have actually shot the agent while they were both upright. Also, the exit wound (or final lodging inside the body if the bullet does not exit) would presumably look much different in the two situations: for example the ground would seem to make it likely that the bullet would ricochet rather oddly doing more damage than expected from the "shot on the roof" story.
posted by oddman at 11:38 AM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am not a forensic expert/ These are barely educated guesses.
posted by oddman at 11:41 AM on January 31, 2009

Seconding oddman. At first I was attacking this question from a Bones angle, but getting no where. Can't believe I didn't think to consult Dexter, which works ever so much better.

Obviously I watch too many cop dramas.
posted by sbutler at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2009

Best answer: If he was dead before he was shot, there would be much less bleeding from the wound, but there is a good deal of judgement involved in making the call of whether and injury was sustained before or after death.
posted by TedW at 12:10 PM on January 31, 2009

Mod note: moved the more to inside which is about as far as we can go towards spoiler prevention, hope that's okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2009

I watched the HBO special "Autopsy Files" and it's really remarkable what you can tell from an autopsy, even years after the fact.

I have no doubt that a forensic scientist based on blood spatter and wound patterns could tell if the shot or the push happened first.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2009

MI6 gets the report that Bond shot him and then dropped him off the roof.

From my memory of the film's timeline, MI6 hasn't had time to make an autopsy, but have a dead body of the opposition with a bullet in him. Supposition on their part is that the 'other tean' would have had no need to shoot their own man, so it must have been Bond. This is supported/instrumental to the growing suspicion that Bond is rogue and is quite likely to be indicative or further evidence of MI6 jumping to conclusions about Bond's motives and erratic operation.

Aside from the scientific "can you or can't you" aspect, due to this element of the film's plot, I don't necessarily think that they are suggesting that this sequence of events has at all been proven. The fact that it is wrong is part of the plot, I think. So, in short, the film isn't necessarily claiming that it is possible to establish this timeline accurately (which may or may not be relevant to you wanting to know the answer).

Personally, the blood spatter/gun identification/powder burns angle that we so often see in crime dramas would suggest (to my armchair knowledge) that it would be relatively straightforward to establish if the crime scene was kept intact. If not, however, I'd imagine a full autopsy may be required (as you suggest).
posted by Brockles at 3:30 PM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: MI6 hasn't had time to make an autopsy, but have a dead body of the opposition with a bullet in him.

Oh yeah, most definitely, but my suspicious were that this was some shoddy investigating. Obviously with all the other things going on at that time, MI6 probably had pressing matters to take care of. If anything, I'm just disappointed that Bond didn't make some pithy statement regarding the ubiquitousness of florists and how he didn't have to shoot him.
posted by niles at 4:35 PM on January 31, 2009

MI6 would have the ballistics test results for Bond's own gun on file, so if the bullet was recovered, they would know it was not his.
posted by zippy at 9:37 PM on January 31, 2009

If I recall correctly the guy was still alive after falling off the roof onto the car below, as it was getting away. Thus the evil-bad-guy-move of shooting the bodyguard for not properly taking care of Bond, and a kind of asshole way of getting him off the car. I would also suspect if you were going to murder someone on top of a roof you would take him to the edge and shoot him there (or...not). That would prevent blood spatter and retrieving the bullet, so MI6 could still maintain that is how it happened. Bond also has a knack for picking up others guns and using them, so checking to see if the bullet belonged to him wouldn't have mattered. So as a believable plot point without looking at finer details, like the fact there were bystanders, witnesses and onlookers? Sure. Although it was one of the weakest writing points for moving the story along. I kept thinking "Why the hell doesn't Bond just tell them 'Hey everybody, I'm one of the good guys and didn't kill that dude!'"
posted by P.o.B. at 1:22 AM on February 25, 2009

« Older I want more female New Orleans bounce artists from...   |   Help me negotiate a new lease Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.