Some very odd choices by its creators sink what could have been a fascinating documentary about the only one-time OO7, BECOMING BOND.
At its heart, the film features a fascinating, honest and heartfelt on camera interview with actor George Lazenby.
Any Bond fan worth his weight in Goldfingers knows Lazenby's story. A cocky male model with no acting experience, Lazenby snuck his way into Sean Connery's tailor and barber and strolled into producer Harry Saltzman's office looking the part.
He gave it his all in what I think is the second best James Bond movie of all-time, "Oh Her Majesty's Secret Service". He's not a great actor, but he's one of the most physical Bonds. As the film goes on and he eases into the acting, his scenes with Diana Rigg are very good.
The film was a big hit and they offered him six more movies and a LOT of 1960's money to continue, but alas, it was his only OO7 feature.
I would have LOVED to have seen more actual footage of him at the time.
He famously fought with Cubby Broccoli because he wanted Blood Sweat and Tears to sing the Bond title song.
There are legendary stories of Diana Rigg eating garlic before their love scenes.
None of that Bond lore makes the screen.
Instead, Lazenby's interview goes all the way back to his pre-teen years.
Some of his grade school exploits are hilarious, but then the documentary makers double down by re-enacting all the stories as Lazenby tells them. What?
I don't need to see a fourth grade George, a teenager George and male model George and all his sexual exploits. As stories told by a man in his seventies they are hilarious. When they're all acted out, they get pretty uncomfortable.
And double-O dull.
If they would have used still photos, video clips or graphics instead of reenactments, this could have been an absolute blast.
The best and most entertaining docs like "McMillions" or "The Kid Stays in the Picture" use graphics, stills, old footage and actual clips to pull you into their stories.
For the last 30 minutes, when Lazenby details the making the movie and they DO use actual footage, the doc perks up and becomes very engaging. Unbelievably, it takes over an hour of low budget actors on low budget sets recreating Lazenby's life before we get to that point.
Okay, to be fair, Dana Carvey does show up as Johnny Carson and Jeff Garlin is funny as Harry Saltzman. My first big screen Bond Girl, Jane Seymour, shows up as George's first agent.
I liked the way the film is broken up into 13 chapters, each a pretty clever reference to a Bond film title.
I loved how Lazenby just faces the camera and shares his raw takes on history, even breaking down a couple times as he remembers lost loves and bad choices. There's no denying that Lazenby carved out his own path, albeit one that he clearly questions now. But his convictions are admirable and at times, inspiring.
George, you were a hell of a Bond. You and Peter Hunt made one HELL of a OO7 flick. For that, you'll always be part of James Bond history and my most personal, fond memories of watching the Bond movies on the big screen with my Dad.
If only this doc lived up to you!
BECOMING BOND gets a C thanks solely to Mr. Lazenby.