Everything or Nothing (2012)

(On Cable TV, December 2013) As an officially-sanctioned history of the first fifty years of the James Bond film franchise, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is satisfying: Through a mixture of talking heads, narration, archival footage and clips from the movies themselves, the film cobbles together a highlight reel of the franchise’s distinct eras, behind-the-scenes upheavals, cultural impact and passing whims.  Its single best asset is in featuring all Bonds (except for Sean Connery, for reasons that quickly become obvious) reflecting upon their tenure as Bond and the reasons behind their exit from the franchise.  George Lazenby rebelling from The Establishment? Pierce Brosnan cackling over kite-surfing a tsunami?  Entertaining stuff.  But this overview of the franchise’s history only skims the surface, and no amount of good words from Bill Clinton himself can fully explore the infighting between the Broccoli family and legal challengers to the Bond franchise, or the various issues faced by the filmmakers in shooting Bond movies.  It’s also curiously quick to dispense with entire eras of the Bond franchise, some movies barely earning a mention.  (It’s also inevitably flawed in having been released alongside Skyfall, a Bond film that will stand on its own as worthy of further discussion in later retrospectives.)  The film isn’t above a bit of mythmaking (I’m not sure that the Fleming novels were as innovative as the narration makes them out to be), and for its entire often-surprising candor, it remains an authorized documentary that doesn’t dare criticize the official version of events.  While an entertaining and superbly-edited film, Everything or Nothing is most likely to make viewers do two things, neither of which are entirely bad: First up, make everyone see the Bond films over again.  Second: have them look for a more detailed and more objective history of the franchise, if only to more fully explore elements barely mentioned within the confines of a 90-minutes documentary.

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