Being James Bond Review
7th September 2021
Ben Williams takes a look at the new 45-minute documentary
By Ben Williams
I think it’s fair to say that fans of the Bond series have been eagerly awaiting some new content for a while now. These desperate times have seen us barricaded in our rooms, itching for something - anything - Bond-related to hold on to. Each release date that has come and gone, each delay, each tentative allowance of hope, has brought us so high, only for us to fall again and again, like Sisyphus’ rock, except this time it’s a bloke in a tan suit jumping repeatedly off a bridge instead.
Thankfully then, within days of the US and International trailers being dropped, we also have “Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story”, which is available now on Apple TV. Frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Not only does this documentary give us something to sate our appetites for the next few weeks until 'No Time To Die' does finally hit our screens, it also serves as something of a reminder to audiences who this Bond fellow is and what adventures he’s been on since 2006. Much like the US trailer, this documentary seems to serve as a way to jog memories and fill in the blanks of audiences who, unlike some of us, don’t actually respirate Bond. Strange to think that these folks exist, but I can assure you from many conversations at dinner parties over the years that quite a few people don’t know just what the hell is going on with James Bond. And with this suitably extended and necessary hiatus, that gap in the collective knowledge seems only to have deepened.
However, it’s not all for those who are suffering from a spot of memory loss. Not everyone needs to see the word ‘Vladivostok’ to remember who James Bond is. And for those folks, there is enough meat on the bones here to pick at. Perhaps not a hearty meal, but this was only ever supposed to invigorate our appetites. More a Shrubland’s salad than a Dr. No dinner date.
As one might expect, this documentary is not going to cut deep. There’s more than a passing similarity in tone to the excellent “Everything Or Nothing”, but the running time doesn’t allow for this to be a warts-and-all exploration of Craig, his experience, his process. That said, it doesn’t shy away from talking about firstly Craig’s detractors, in the form of the Craigsnotbond backlash, or secondly, the issues surrounding filming 'Quantum of Solace', including injuries, strikes, and weighted expectations.
At 45 minutes it needs to be brisk, so don’t expect too long spent on each film, but what you will get is some excellent behind-the-scenes footage that I’m sure has seldom been seen outside of this documentary, if at all. Additionally, you get some nice interviews with Craig, Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson.
It’s also pretty linear and it moves along at a pace that’s not unlike being in a queue for a ride at an amusement park. You want to get on the “No Time To Die” ride, but even as you’re being herded ever-forward, you do get occasionally distracted by the exhibits and wish you could spend longer looking at them.
But the wait for the 'No Time To Die' stuff is pretty worth it. Not only do we see some nice B-Roll and BTS footage that hasn’t been released before, we also get to witness something that perhaps hasn’t been recorded before - or at least never seen: The moment an actor stops being James Bond. When Craig wraps on his final scene in his final Bond, we see the moment where he goes from Being James Bond to being Daniel Craig again. We see the powerful investment that it is to make, the nigh on fifteen years of commitment, the physical hardships, and the mental discipline this role has required. It is a surprisingly emotional moment for a documentary that one might expect to be more a light souffle instead of a quiche de cabinet.
Overall, it is an enjoyable documentary that serves as a reminder to us just how fortunate we have been to have had such a capable and dedicated actor as Daniel Craig in the role. We see primarily his determination and his commitment to delivering the best film that he can, which cannot be said of every actor to straighten the Bond bow tie. Initially, many questioned the decision to cast him in the role, but as Barbara Broccoli says, it is now hard to imagine anyone else doing it.
Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long before we get to see him being James Bond one last time. '
Being James Bond' is streaming via Apple TV for free until October 8th (you will need to register with Apple to watch).
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