I admit, I am not the biggest James Bond fan. I did love watching them in the 80’s on cable, and I enjoyed the resurgence with both Bronson and Craig, and I do have favorites (Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Goldeneye, and Casino Royale). And if I’m completely honest, I have seen all the Bond films, some more than once, others only once. One of those single viewings was “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, always hated the name, I had no idea who that guy they had playing 007 was, and most of the film is a blur to me.
Then over the years when Bond would come back into the public eye again I would hear or read stories of how great George Lazenby was in is his lone performance, even had a friend claim that he was his favorite Bond. Blasphemy. Connery was and is still the greatest. But after seeing the Hulu Documentary “Becoming Bond”, I may give the transition between Connery and Moore another shot, or at the very least the attention I now know it deserves.
The doc begins with Lazenby telling stories from his youth, which plays like a greatest hits version of a life story. The stories are interesting enough, but the way they are presented take it up sightly to make it entertaining. As Lazenby narrates his life the scenes are played out with actors recreating the scenes in an almost goofy sitcom-type presentation. And Josh Lawson who portrays the adult Lazenby is very watchable and has that sense of charisma and comedic timing that brings the stories to life even with the low production value.
The only downside of the film is while you do get the becoming of Bond as Lazenby guides you on his journey to his biggest role. What there is very little of is the actual making of the film itself. He covers some of the beginnings and not much else, quickly skipping over the majority of the production and going into the aftermath. Which has interesting elements and does tell a complete story, even if it is just the good parts version of his life.
The documentary is well done and attempts to be different with its reenactments with some class acts like Jake Johnson, Dana Carvey and Jeff Garlan in small roles. But all in all it’s an hour and a half of an interesting life story of a man who made history as he became part of the tradition of men to play one of the longest running characters in cinema.