Bond Vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007
Released almost a year ago, Bond Vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007 is an updated reissue timed to tie into what was going to be the release of the 25th James Bond movie, No Time to Die. Obviously, what with the shutdown of movie theaters, that didn’t happen, but the book is still here.
I was looking forward to it as a retrospective on one of the most famous characters in British popular culture. It is that, but it’s simultaneously both overly comprehensive and shallow, at least in the areas I wanted to know about.
Before getting to short write-ups of each of the Bond films — which concentrate on plot elements, including what Bond demonstrates in terms of his knowledge of food and alcohol — there are chapters on the life of Ian Fleming, overviews of all the novels (both those he wrote and the licensed continuations), a piece on the comic books, and another on the audio productions. Sidebars cover the cars, the guns, the gadgets, the girls, the bad guys, and the femme fatales.
As a non-fan, I wanted more information on the behind-the-scenes of the movies, on how and why each got made. There are short notes on each movie about producer and cast changes, but it’s the level of depth of a filler newspaper piece. Each film only gets about three pages, which is a large part of the problem. The book should have been twice as long as it was to do what I wanted.
Most obviously, there are references made in passing to the Thunderball lawsuit, which went on for years and allowed another production company to make Never Say Never Again, but there is no actual explanation of the details or an overview of what actually happened with it. Nor is there any serious treatment of how the character has changed, or been reacted to, over the decades.
Although the book looks thorough in subject, when it comes to actual treatment of the content, it’s superficial. The detail-oriented fan, who might appreciate the variety of material mentioned here, likely knows most of it already; the casual reader, at least in my case, won’t find many hooks to draw their attention. It is a pretty book, though, with a readable, well-designed layout. (The publisher provided a review copy.)