Luke Rex’s Bonding has a lot less to do with making friends than with avoiding vexing potential enemies. The 13-minute film borrows from the legacy of James Bond to create its own story, a new association being forged in a bar in the wee hours between an unwilling psychologist and an agent who has decided to recruit him.
Dr. John Flemington (played by Rex) has all the plans in place to go home after a conference. Enjoying a last drink before his flight, he does not expect to be accosted at the deserted bar. Anastasia Mansfield (Jannica Olin) walks in with her associate (Darius, played by Ryan Stroud), introduced in a well-designed bit of camerawork. The four characters, including the bartender, form a curious quartet. As Anastasia engages John, Darius and the bartender, Bo (Darren Lipari), seem to harbour an instant hostility. So much so that the two pairs even create a cleft in the colour palette, not to mention the separate axes on which they are staged and move in. The former is lit in the classic golden glow of bars; the latter, in frigid green-blue tones. Two different stories run here, but they feel like two of many.
The film maintains a sense of a long, complex history, the most exciting of which is John and Anastasia’s parentage—John, son of James Bond; Anastasia, daughter of Olivia Mansfield. John even calls his stirred martini a break away from tradition. The most telling, of course, is that there is neither shock nor naivete in John when Anastasia reveals her purpose for her visit. This is a man familiar with this line of work. The mystery extends to Bo and Darius. The latter’s distrust and hostility reveal new reasons for suspicion that Bo’s actions only strengthen.
Though the film cannot boast of particularly compelling dialogue, its craft invites attention. The nods to its history are as fun as watching its cinematography and editing do their own talking. Its position as a one-shot post-canon alternate universe fanfiction in live-action only bolsters its entertainment value for fans. A whole lot of Bonding is about to happen, whether John likes it or not.
Watch Bonding Short Film Trailer
Bonding: A Spy Mystery Before the Thrills Come In