Everything or Nothing - The Untold Story of 007 Review: Captivating, Brisk Bond Doc

With James Bond having much to prove after his massively underwhelming follow-up (Quantum of Solace) to the brilliant Casino Royale, this documentary is a fantastic way to hold the anxiety at bay ahead of Sam Mendes' hugely anticipated Skyfall. Commemorating the 50-year anniversary - to this very date - of Dr. No first hitting our screens, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 could so easily have been a vacuum-sealed, toothless, glorified DVD extra, yet what makes it worth watching is its unexpected honesty with regard to the series' less-favourable moments and countless legal wranglings that have stalled production, while interviews with all-but-one of the Bonds prove eye-opening and wholly worthy. Though little information here will be of surprise to most Bond fanatics, Stevan Riley's breezy format, snappily fleeting between subjects and iconic bond moments, condenses one of pop culture's most iconic characters' various highs and lows into a light and entertaining, if arguably not-so-probing documentary. Beginning as a portrait of the character's creator, Ian Fleming, various talking heads chime in on the aspects of Fleming himself that have continued to live on through Bond, as well as the various efforts made to get Bond to the screen, namely the character's ill-advised appearance as the American "Jimmy Bond" in an episode of the TV show Climax. What came to govern the series' eventual success was the partnership of Eon founders Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and the likes of Cubby's daughter Barbara discuss that lengthy partnership with great fondness, and with regard to its eventual dissolution, some sure sadness. But what perhaps proves most intriguing about this documentary is the considerable achievement of getting every Bond back to talk about the films, except for Sean Connery, which might be a blessing in disguise given how run-down he is here. Connery is portrayed as a difficult figure who held out for more money, and deeply hurt Cubby Broccoli by opting to take part in the rival Bond pic Never Say Never Again, which was quelled in the same year by the far more popular Eon production Octopussy, starring Roger Moore. Moore, meanwhile, proves as charming a subject as ever, even if not revealing much we didn't already know. George Lazenby, though, is a hugely transfixing presence, especially considering his controversial status as a Bond - having starred in only one film - and his flat-out stating that he essentially blagged the role despite not being an actor as such. Nevertheless, with his charm and delightful sense of humour, it's no surprise he got the role in the end. Timothy Dalton, who many here stand up to defend as a fantastic, bold Bond who nevertheless suffered by not having played Bond three times - the apparent platform at which an actor will be "accepted" by fans - oozes enthusiasm for the two films he worked on. While these films - The Living Daylights and License to Kill - pushed the series' envelope with regard to adult themes, Barbara Broccoli herself ultimately expresses displeasure with how far they eventually went. Pierce Brosnan - another exceptionally well-cast Bond who nevertheless suffered through a number of poorly-scripted outings - details the heartbreak of winning the role and then losing it due to contractual obligations to Lexington Steele, before winning the role again years later, and becoming one of the most prolific Bonds to date. Most unexpectedly, Brosnan is keen to note how flaky some of his later Bond films were, at one point laughing hysterically at the surfing scene in Die Another Day. For a comment that would have been so easy to edit out, it's admirable that Riley keeps it in. Arguably the most interesting point of the film - and the least talked about up to this point - is the perceived effect that 9/11 had on the Bond series, for in the wake of this horrible event, depictions of terrorism as flippant and disposable became tacky and distasteful. A haunted, visceral Bond was needed for the post-9/11 world, and of course, this is where Brosnan had to make way for Daniel Craig. While Craig, having not fully established his Bond legacy yet, proves the subject with the least to say, there's not really much that needs to be said; Skyfall will hopefully tell us everything we need to know in due course. At 98 minutes, it hardly outstays its welcome, though is still probably substantial enough to tide most over until Skyfall. Perhaps not a vital examination of the indelible icon, but a frank, funny, and thoroughly captivating one. Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is in cinemas now.
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Frequently sleep-deprived film addict and video game obsessive who spends more time than is healthy in darkened London screening rooms. Follow his twitter on @ShaunMunroFilm or e-mail him at shaneo632 [at] gmail.com.