EVERYTHING OR NOTHING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF 007 Review

The new Epix documentary digs deep into 007’s troubled rough patches and celebrates its triumphs.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Any James Bond fan probably knows everything about the series already. We’ve read all the books, watched all the DVD extras and even the IMDB trivia.

However, Epix’s new documentary “Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007” will still appeal to die hard Bond fans by delving into touchy subjects the series faced over the years, while giving casual fans a great behind the scenes look.

When a franchise lasts decades, it becomes an example of not only many different types of storytelling, but also all of the industry factors that affect said storytelling. The James Bond series has gotten jokey, then serious, then silly again. It’s also been a source of studio politics, talent negotiations, and outright sabotage events, all of which influenced the types of films that were made at the time. “Everything or Nothing” illustrates that with full disclosure.

It really goes there with the whole Kevin McClory situation, which is something Barbara Broccoli usually avoids. George Lazenby is open about the bridges he burned, as he always is if you’ve ever attended one of his On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Q&As. Even more seismic to the Bond franchise was the buyout of Harry Saltzman’s stake. That’s where the series took some artistic turns driven by the studio.

None of this is news per se but hearing the primary surviving representatives discuss it is a new context. It becomes clear there’s more to a James Bond movie than recasting the lead and adapting an Ian Fleming book. We might have had a third Timothy Dalton movie is Saltzman hadn’t cashed out, and we might have seen more Never Say Never Agains if McClory had shown up in court.

The film spends a healthy amount of time talking about Ian Fleming, considering it is a movie documentary from a movie channel. If the edgy, melancholy tone of the Daniel Craig films is a shock to viewers who expect volcano bases and moonrakers, it will make a lot more sense when you learn what a traumatized, depressed man Bond’s creator was.

In discussing the film series, the film has every Bond actor, a few Bond girls and villains like Maud Adams and Robert Davi, and relatives of Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, including current series producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Sean Connery speaks via audio and it’s not clear if those are new soundbites or culled from previous interviews. They sound like they could be new thoughts, he just preferred not to come into the studio because hey, he’s Sean Connery.

Even though these actors have talked about Bond many times, “Everything or Nothing” manages to pull fresh anecdotes out of them. Timothy Dalton gets a bit heated about complaints against Licence to Kill and Pierce Brosnan is in good spirits, considering he kind of got screwed when they decided to reboot. His laughs about the three post-Goldeneye films show he has a good sense of humor, and he knows that his Bond movies were going astray.

The footage assembled in between the interviews is phenomenal. I’m sure we’ve seen some of it before, but B-roll filmed on the set of Connery and Moore movies shows outtakes and preparation that beautifully illustrates the feeling of making Bond films through the decades. Rather than watching every DVD extra to see some of these clips, they flow throughout a single timeline of the 50-year-old franchise.

Clearly I’m a Bond fan and I’ve read lots of books and watched lots of documentaries and even been fortunate enough to interview many people associated with the Bond films. I loved “Everything or Nothing” and found it informative still. I would easily recommend it to anyone who wants to know why these films capture our obsession as they do, or just movie buffs who want to hear some juicy gossip.