This gorgeous hardcover coffee table book has been updated (after its original release two years ago) to cover the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. With the holiday season approaching, it would make a great gift for the spy/adventure movie fan in your life.
Great care was obviously taken with the design and presentation, resulting in a lush feel that goes well with Bond’s world of brands and beauty. It’s a licensed production, so no information here on the 1967 Casino Royale or Never Say Never Again. (Shame, Kim Basinger is one of my favorite Bond girls.) It also plays more within the world of the films, preferring story/world-building continuity over behind-the-scenes information. Plenty of glossy pictures illustrate, with emphasis on Sean Connery (the first) and Daniel Craig (the latest).
After introductory sections on writer Ian Fleming and “The Bond Style” — work history, skills, wardrobe, and food and drink — each of the six actors to play the role get a two-page spread. You won’t find out exactly how the decisions were made to change among them here. I found myself wondering, for example, how Connery was wooed back for one more (Diamonds Are Forever) after George Lazenby took over in 1969, or why they went looking for a Connery replacement in the first place. This isn’t that kind of book; instead, there’s an air of “aren’t they all great?” (Some of my questions were later answered in the last section of the book; see description below.)
The meat of the volume comes next: alphabetically organized sections on Bond villains (covering the characters, not the actors), supporting characters, vehicles, weapons, and of course, the women. The writeups are primarily plot descriptions, briefly summarizing the item’s appearance and what happens. Since I didn’t remember much of the specifics of the movies, I didn’t find these dry recitations very helpful. Especially when it came to the female co-stars, I would have rather known about the actresses, their careers before and after.
In the last section, about “The Movies”, each film gets two pages, some of which goes to sidebars covering various crew and production staff members. Missing from the book is a plot summary of each movie — I would have thought that would have fit right in as a kind of mission dossier. Instead, we get information on how the producers decided which one to make next and who wrote the screenplays.
Although this book is lovely, I’m not the audience for it. It would be better suited to someone who’s seen the films multiple times. They would enjoy the memories evoked by the pictures and the working together of various story strands, while I’d like more a behind-the-scenes take on the making of the movies, not the world they inhabit. (The publisher provided a review copy.)