DVD REVIEW: Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming

This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVD. It is made to be played in “play only” DVD devices, and may not play in some DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD, however, played with no problems in the Toshiba DVD recorder used for this review. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.



The life of Ian Fleming (Jason Connery), from his days as a newspaper writer to his military service, is dramatized in this made-for-cable (TNT) film. Also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Joss Ackland and David Warner.
Directed by: Ferdinand Fairfax



Most people are unaware of the true-life story of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. If you think watching Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming will fill you in, think again. After checking around, it appears the movie itself is a bit fictionalized, obviously to make it more entertaining, but also to make it appear as if Fleming was actually like his literary creation. Spoiler: he wasn’t.


Fleming did do some work for British intelligence and helped create a secret military group (as depicted in the film), but he didn’t see combat as shown in the film, and he didn’t get shot while working in Russia. There’s other changes that would spoil the film, so I won’t give them away, but it’s odd that the film’s producers chose to dramatize such major aspects of Fleming’s life.


The casting of Jason Connery (yes, Sean’s son) may appear to be a gimmick at first glance, but he is excellent in the role. He’s a solid actor, and captures both Fleming’s charm and his ego, as his womanizing was often the source of his troubles. There is a good cast around him, including Kristin Scott Thomas as his love interest.

While the film has high production values, it is undermined by a sub-par script. The story feels like a collection of random anecdotes from Fleming’s life held together by heavy-handed Bond references. True, there were many instances in Fleming’s life that inspired the Bond stories, but they are plainly obvious here, and not a bit clever. Strangely, there’s even some female upper nudity in the film, which you wouldn’t expect in a made-for-basic-cable movie, especially one for TNT, so it’s not suitable for young kids.

Ultimately, Spymaker should be viewed much like a regular spy film. With most of the key dramatic points in the story having no basis in fact, the film is hardly a reference for insight into Ian Fleming’s life. Despite the excellent acting, the lack of true-life facts is a disappointing revelation.


There is considerable grain in the video transfer, and a distinct lack of detail throughout. There is some minor artifacting due to video compression issues, resulting in an overall soft image. The movie is purposely shot with a soft lens to give it more of a vintage, romantic look, but it should look much sharper than this. A Dolby Digital 2.0 mix has good clarity, but not much depth or surround effect.






Ratings (1-10 scale)


Movie: 5


Video: 6


Audio: 7


Extras: 1


Overall Score: 4.75


Despite Jason Connery’s fine performance, Spymaker disappoints, not only because the details of Flemings life as shown in the film are largely untrue, but because the tone is widlly inconsistent. It’s worth a rent only to the most die-hard James Bond fans.




Release Date: June 17, 2013

Running time: 96 minutes


Rating: Not rated (adult situations, nudity, violence)


Aspect ratio: 1.37:1


Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0


Subtitles: None


Special Features: None


Label: Warner Archive


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