2012 will no doubt be seen as a watershed year for 007. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, one of the most profitable and iconic franchises in film history released an entry directed by a respected Oscar-winner, starring proper actors – including another Oscar-winner as the villain – and successfully reinvigorated the whole idea of James Bond for the new millennium, pocketing in the meantime a billion dollars in worldwide box office. As part of the celebration, Everything or Nothing (2012) offers fans the opportunity to relive the making and evolution of the figure of James Bond from soup to nuts, or perhaps more relevantly from Connery to Craig.
Stevan Riley’s film is a good looking and fast moving tale and it has to be, considering the number of personalities and the twists and turns that it needs to squeeze in. We follow Bond from the daydreams of the desk bound former foreign office wonk-turned-journalist through an early manifestation as Jimmy Bond, an American TV special to the fortuitous meeting of the American business men and film producers Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and the birth of a film icon. All along the way good luck, risk taking and well informed hunches carry the project from a moderately entertaining spy story to a culturally significant million dollar industry, now billion dollar.
There is one significant absence in the form of Sean Connery, who apparently – despite tales of reconciliation – seems to nurture a mighty grudge at having been short-changed. However, Riley has a host of other interviewees who are well practised at spinning a yarn, including such luminaries as Ken Adam and Roger Moore and the current producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. There are bumps along the road, as risks don’t pay off (George Lazenby) and litigation haunts the producers from a contested screenplay: Thunderball (1975) which will produce the rival Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983), but this is to some extent a giant trailer for the success of Skyfall (2012) to come.
Riley is adept at the mix of archive footage and talking heads, having previously proved himself with the brilliant cricket documentary Fire in Babylon (2010). However, the film’s subtitle is a bit of a stretch, especially coming after years of special edition documentaries, volumes of books and the anniversary celebrations which seriously risked over exposure for the most non-secret of secret agents. It’s to Riley’s credit that despite this and despite the feel of an in-house documentary – the title is also the name of the production company responsible for making the Bond series – Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 retains a certain freshness and for anyone with only a passing knowledge of the film legend many interesting moments.