'Ian Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond' Is (Mostly) A Hit With The Critics

Tags: Dominic Cooper - Lara Pulver

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Ian Fleming: The Man Who Would Become Bond, the four-part BBC America miniseries that premieres tonight, is already gaining traction with TV critics. Judging by the reviews, Fleming has everything fans love about the world’s favorite fictional spy and, to top that, it’s rooted in reality. Travel, luxury and adventure abound in Fleming

Dominic Cooper, BAFTA LA
Dominic Cooper does a fine job as the real-life Bond, but it isn't to everyone's taste.

It's the story of Ian Fleming (Dominic Cooper) and Ann O'Neill (Lara Pulver), two equally charming and skilled members of the lower-level Brit aristocracy, set around the time of World War II. As the two come together and face the challenges of the time, Fleming continues to build his catalog of spy stories, which would later become the basis for Bond's adventures.

If critics like NY Daily News’ David Hinkley are anything to go by, Fleming combines just the right amount of thrills with the period atmosphere and top notch acting from both Cooper and Pulver, as well as a fine cast of supporting players, like Anna Chancellor as Fleming’s wartime superior, Second Officer Monday, and Rupert Evans as Ian’s brother Peter.

The HuffPo’s Maureen Ryan is also impressed with the cast, writing: “Dominic Cooper infuses the role of Ian Fleming with the right mixture of insouciance and world-weariness.” It seems like most of the fun of Flemming is in the redemption story – seeing the title character use his unusual talents to turn around an otherwise idle life. According to Ryan, the writing of Fleming is sometimes clunky, but the delivery makes up for it.

Lara Pulver, TV Choice Awards
Lara Pulver also has critics singing her praises.

Of course, the series isn’t without its flaws - Liane Bonin Starr of HitFix finds it difficult to buy into Fleming’s suave persona and into his relationship with lady Ann. “His relationship with Lady Ann (Lara Pulver) is dysfunctional at best, and borders on felonious assault in one overwrought scene,” she writes. There is much more to rant about in the mini-series and most of it has to do with its authenticity.

In the end, it sounds like a mixed bag – the completely true and faithful retelling of Ian Fleming’s life this isn’t, but if you’re one for campy spy adventures with a hint of reality peppered in, then 'The Man Who Would Become Bond' might be worth a shot.


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