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The year: 1987, the Man: Timothy Dalton, the film? The Living Daylights
and good news for adults across the globe because after sending off
their kids to joke it up with Roger Moore for over a decade they could
finally sit down to a Bond movie which, whisper it quietly, resembled a
real thriller...and a good one at that. We should be grateful for
Dalton's two stints as the Bond because they came within a whisp of
never existing. Had the studio had their way, Moore would have been
wheeled off for Brosnan and a serious reinvention of the series would
have been dropped in favour of the, er, "winning" return to form we've
been privileged enough to have enjoyed since 1995's Goldeneye.
Dalton's take on the character was to return it (and I hope you're sitting down) to the brooding, cruel and methodical assassin envisioned by Flemming in his original stories. TD was a RADA trained Shakespearian actor for God's sake and certainly had no intention of smirking and punning his way through each adventure. Dalton said that half the world loved Connery and the other half loved Moore (which is hedging your bets a bit) but he bravely chose to play it like neither. We can only imagine at the relief Richard Maibrum must have felt, given the opportunity to finally write an real screenplay tailored to the new approach, having been no doubt advised in previous outings that plot and character was superfluous to requirements. The result is a story set in the real world . Goodbye super-villains bloated on world domination plots and hello to arms dealers, Afgan resistance fighters, double crosses and political assassinations. After so many remakes of You Only Live Twice it certainly is a tonic and Dalton's hard-edged, professional spy washes over you like a radox bath following a 300 mile trek through the Gobi. His performance reinvigorates the series and makes all thats old new again. The familiar elements are all here - the car, the girls, the locations, but anchored in a real cold war setting with Pretenders loving KGB agents round every corner and the credible whiff of counter-espionage, the whole thing crackles with an energy and an urgency that would have been a fantasy in any of Moores mirth-ridden efforts. Even John Barry's music, in his final contribution to the series, is a fresh and exciting affair - blending high tempo action cues with his usual gift for generating a sense of foreboding and pathos in equal measure. Yes, Bond hadn't felt this good or LOOKED this good since the mid-sixites but as if to prove the old adage that you can't have too much of a good thing, we didn't. Audiences found Dalton humorless and the heady excesses of good story, three-dimensional characterisation and real world setting somewhat distracting. After all, where were all the puns (Dalton's "he got the boot" aside), the jokes and the evil bloke at the end who plans to ravage the planet with deadly spores? People were beginning to ask and Dalton still had two films to go on his contract....
Perhaps one of the most overlooked films in the James Bond series, this one brought things back down to Earth for the series. Though Roger Moore made a good James Bond, he had by now out-grown the series. Timothy Dalton is perhaps the most underrated actor to play James Bond, due to his rather brief stint as the character. He is terrific in both his films, and gives 007 a brooding that Bond has not had in any of his previous films. The movie is also good because the romance between Dalton and Mariam D'abo is there and is wonderful to see. Though Kara Milovy is not a tough Bond girl, she is one of the most sensitive and most romantic with Bond himself. The side love story is great to watch. The villains are not that good, for they are not given enough screen time, but the plot is great to try and figure out. Though it's not half as confusing as Mission: Impossible, it still took me a while to catch on at some parts. On a side note, John Rhys Daves once again proves what a great character actor he is as General Pushkin. This Bond movie stands out for it is basically the last to incorporate the USSR, the KGB, and any other Cold War element plots. Cheers to The Living Daylights, an unsung hero of the James Bond series.
While many will debate and argue over Timothy Dalton for years to come, in
much the same way as over George Lazenby, I going to put my foot out and say
Dalton is one of my favorite Bond's, along with Brosnan and Connery. There
never really has been a bad Bond actor, but Dalton, I believe is up there
with Connery and Pierce and I love The Living Daylights. Dalton was my first
'new' Bond in many ways. I was four when this film was released, and was
developing a love for the Bond movies at the time. I had grown up watching
the Moore and Connery movies on television and Dalton was the first new
actor in the role that I seen, which is why I have special affection for
this Bond movie. I love it. Not only do we have a great Bond movie, but it
is also a great espionage thriller that eventually turns into the kind of
epic Bond adventure we all know and love. The plot involving the
double-double cross of a KGB agent defecting to Britain called Georgi played
brilliantly by Jeroen Krabbe, and Bond's attempts to find him when he is
'kidnapped' by playing on the trust of his girlfriend, Kara, a beautiful
cello player performed magnificently by Maryam D'abo, is enthralling, and
the way it leads from the London countryside, to the ferris wheels of Vienna
and eventually to Afghanistan is superbly done. The film is mixture of the
thriller elements of the Ian Fleming novels and the epic adventure scope of
As James Bond Timothy Dalton is excellent, a fantastic choice to play the part. His decision to play the part more akin to the novels of Fleming than the humor of Roger Moore is an inspired choice. He is a mixture of the Fleming character and Sean Connery's Bond. While there is a serious nature here (the darker elements would be at the forefront more in the equally brilliant Licence To Kill), there is still room for humor as seen in the car chase ("I've had a few optional extras installed" when talking about the gadgets). Coming off the Moore films, it may have been too soon for a return to the serious roots, but it works well in the long run. The film doesn't feel like some far fetched action film, it feels like a great spy movie with great actors. Adding to this a wonderfully 80's theme tune from A-Ha, a great score from John Barry and a plethora of great baddies as well as some great set pieces (the battle on the runway at the end is great as is Bond's climactic battle with henchman Necros hanging from the back of an airplane).
I love this film a lot. It's dark, yes, although not as dark as the film that was to come, and is still cracking great entertainment. It is a forgotten Bond classic and it is nice that as time has went on, Dalton's movies as the character have remained as great as they were in the late 80's.
With Roger Moore's 'retirement' as 007, in the less-than-wonderful A VIEW TO
A KILL, Eon Productions began searching for a new James Bond for THE LIVING
DAYLIGHTS. A promising candidate was Sam Neill, 39, popular star of TV's
"Reilly: The Ace of Spies" (and future JURASSIC PARK dinosaur expert). But
Albert Broccoli didn't like Neill's tests, and announced he wanted Welsh
actor Timothy Dalton, whom he'd first approached for the role 16 years
earlier. At that time, Dalton had turned down Bond, saying he was "too
young". Now 41, both Dalton and Broccoli agreed he was the right age, and
his tests were fabulous...but it was then discovered that the shooting
schedule for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS would conflict with Dalton's current
project, BRENDA STARR, and he, reluctantly, had to pass on the
Then an Irish actor, who had become a major television star in America, appeared on the scene. Pierce Brosnan, 34, his "Remington Steele" TV series about to be canceled by NBC, had impressed Broccoli on a visit to the Bond set 5 years earlier, and his tests were so good that he won the role. The script was adjusted, adding more humor (quips were one of Brosnan's strong points), and things were moving along nicely...until NBC, seeing the publicity value of a potential 'James Bond' in a series, renewed "Remington Steele", throwing the entire Bond production into turmoil. The network refused to release Brosnan, and he had to leave.
Fortunately, the delay gave Timothy Dalton time to complete BRENDA STARR, and he began shooting THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS two days after STARR wrapped.
Dalton, an avid fan of Fleming's novels, preferred a harder-edged yet vulnerable Bond, with little or no humor, but screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson had already tailored the script to Brosnan, and Dalton quickly revealed that one-liners were not his strongest asset. He gave, nonetheless, a strong, smoldering performance as 007. As his leading lady, Maryam d'Abo, 26, who'd been 'discovered' while doing 007 candidate screen tests, proved quite good as a blackmailed Czech cellist Bond 'couldn't kill'. The villains, while not 'top drawer' Bond, were effective; Jeroen Krabbé as a defecting Russian general, dancer-turned-actor Andreas Wisniewski as nearly superhuman assassin Necros, and Joe Don Baker, as a 'good ol' boy' megalomaniac U.S. general.
With action around the world, and a complicated plot involving a weapons heist and sale, the story attempted to be more 'topical' by involving the Afghan/Soviet conflict (which, unfortunately, 'dated' it, as well). Bond is monogamous for the first time, and the more 'physical' portrayal of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY had returned, to the delight of Bond purists.
But LETHAL WEAPON would also debut in 1987, and the 'over-the-top' solid action film would cut deeply into THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS profits. The 007 film was considered almost 'quaint' in comparison, and Dalton would unfairly take the 'heat' for the less profitable film.
The world was changing around 007, and no one was quite sure what to do about it...
Quite simply put The Living Daylights is one of the best James Bond
films they have ever made & if Wilson & co are smart they'll do more
like this one.
Having decided to give up the role of 007 in 1985 Roger Moore stepped down,Moore had saved the series in the early 70's but had stayed in the role a movie to long(they should have left it with the excellent Octopussy),the hunt was now on for a new actor who could take the role into the 90's....Thankfully Dalton was the man they found. As soon as he got the part Dalton went straight back to the source material..ie Ian Fleming's novels & it shows on the screen...the bond in the Living Daylights is the Bond character jumping right out of the books.
The film really shows how keen everyone involved in it wanted to say that this was a fresh start but at the same time still show that this is a Bond picture & they pull it off very well..John Glen's direction is excellent,he really found his feet by now & all the aspects of the film are done well...A special mention must also go to John Barry who's score for the film is one of his best...oh if only they couyd bring him back rather than have his clone do the new ones....
Timothy Dalton is very much undervalued in his contribution to the Bond movies but i do feel that in about 10 years & his films will be seen in a different light on how they are looked on today. The producers of the Bond movies really need to do the same again now as they did back in 1987...make Bond a character & no more films like Die Another Day..OK it made them tons of money but is it worth selling the sole of Bond to do it..... Give the role to Clive Owen & make Bond a character again.
I just spent the weekend watching nine Bond movies, many of which I hadn't seen in years. When you see that many back to back, it makes comparison easier and each movie's strengths and weaknesses stand out.. After finishing, I realized that The Living Daylights was much better than my memory had perceived it. (I also felt the same about OHMSS). The plot is great with many twists and turns. Tim Dalton brings a very intense Bond to the screen and in this movie it works. I thought MaryAnn D'abo was a very good female lead. We also see a new Moneypenny. The only drawback to the movie is that the villains were somewhat weak. Overall, I now feel The Living Daylights is in the very top tier of the Bond movies.
Timothy Dalton makes his first appearance as James Bond in this
fast-paced, brilliant espionage thriller. Dalton's unique acting style
coupled with a gripping plot, an excellent cast of characters,
genuinely exciting plot twists, and surely the coolest car in the
history of the Bond films sets this one apart from all the others. I've
seen it again and again and it gets better every time.
In this adventure, Bond must pit wits with a diabolical arms dealer named Brad Whittaker, rescue the charming Kara Milvoy (who he was originally tasked to assassinate), restore relations with KGB head General Pushkin, aid freedom fighters in Afganistan, and, of course, look good doing it. A truly great movie, and a must for any Bond fan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Timothy Dalton became the fourth actor to portray James Bond... Having
replaced Roger Moore, Dalton's appearance on the scene inspired a sharp
reversal of policy in the approach to Bond's films
with witty lines, light comedic situations, and fantasy plots was
replaced by a hard-edged reality and some violent episodes that were
better suited to Dalton's more realistic approach to the character of
Dalton has the perfect Bond qualities He's good looking, athletic, commanding He's believable as a British secret agent with a license to kill, who can bed any lady he wants Dalton's debut in "The Living Daylights" is astonishing... His first close-up on the Rock of Gibraltar is riveting as he spies the death of a fellow agent His arrival via parachute onto the yacht of a playgirl is equally perfect There is no hesitation in his performance
But unfortunately, the problem with "The Living Daylights" is its lack of strong villains General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) is too nice to be dangerous (he hugs practically everyone he meets), and Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) is denied enough screen time to develop any true malice He's a gunrunner who likes to play with army toys
The only truly villainous character in the film is Necros, played effectively by Andreas Wisniewski But he's not on-screen long enough to make any true impact, and even he has his sympathetic moments The plot is another throwaway because just as you're starting to figure out why Koskov and Whitaker are partners, the plot switches to a big drug deal in Afghanistan...
Maryam D'Abo is the perfect matean elegant, well-mannered, soulful woman dedicated to her musical craft, who is drawn into the adventure of a lifetime...
Romance, a key element missing from many of the Roger Moore James Bond movies, is present in "The Living Daylights" in large doses as a definite on-screen chemistry develops between Bond and Milovy It's helped, of course, by the fact that both characters spend a great deal of time together on-screen Not since "Thunderball," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," and "The Spy Who Loved Me" has Bond been given the special time to develop a believable relationship with a woman
Desmond LLewellyn, who hadn't missed a Bond film since "Live and Let Die," returned as Q, this time supplying Bond with an updated Aston Martin V8 with 'optional extras fitted.'
Caroline Bliss, an actress who had come to prominence playing Lady Diana Spencer in ABC's 1982 drama "Charles and Diana: A Royal Love Story," stepped into Lois Maxwell's shoes as a younger, doe-eyed Miss Moneypenny...
One thing that can be said about Timothy Dalton's two appearances in the
role of Bond is that both efforts where excellent.
This one is more in the traditional Bond mould than the much darker Licence To Kill that followed it but was still quite a fresh, well scripted and acted story.
It is a bit of a shame that the original plan to have General Gogol throughout rather than General Pushkin had to be dropped due to Walter Gottel being unavailable but even still, John Rhys Davies does well in his role.
Bond girl Myriam D'Abo is a great improvement on her immediate predecessor even if she does not have a huge amount to do and the quality of the photography, particularly the Afghanistan sequences, are excellent.
Unlike many of the Roger Moore Bond's there was a fresh air of originality here unlike previous efforts, which in many ways where bits of old Bonds remixed, reheated and served up.
It is also a refreshing change from the previous A View To A Kill to not have Bond bedding everything female in sight for once!! AVTAK produced four conquests for the rampant fossilised babe magnet (!) Moore, here just the one and discreet at that.
Thankfully silly gimmicks such as another of M's silly offices (Back of a Hercules plane this time following previous instalments in a submarine, Egyptian ruin, sunken ocean liner and a monastery!) were dispensed with quickly and never really seen in the Bond series again after this.
A cracking soundtrack from John Barry (quite possibly his best)finishes off this excellent instalment, which saw the farewell performances of two more stalwarts of the Bond series, Walter Gottel in an all too brief cameo as General Gogol and soundtrack master extraordinaire John Barry (he actually appears here as the orchestra conductor at the Opera House at the very end).
All in all a really good one
At the end of thirteen years of comedic 007 adventures, opinions among
many fans were for a return to the more serious films of the early
Connery era. The hopes of fans were realized with this film that began
a new era in the world of 007.
Timothy Dalton is perhaps the closest actor in terms of vision to Ian Fleming's idea of Bond. He certainly looks the part, with his scalp of wild black hair and his piercing blue eyes, and can actually visualize 007. Just look when Bond is at the fair, having lost Saunders's murderer amongst the crowd and found the balloon with Smyert Spionam scrawled over them. This guy can act. Despite this being his first film as Bond, we get the feeling that he's been playing the part for years with his mastering of the character. Dalton is also great in the action sequences and his belief that he should do as many of his stunts as possible makes it hard to determine when its him and when its a stuntman.
The change continues on with the Bond girl Kara Milovy. Maryam d'Abo may not have had a lot of acting experience before this but she is a good actress. Her character goes far beyond being just eye candy. She's realistic. She's an average woman who is drawn into this world on intrigue, action, and danger. Kara is an innocent brought into it all by a man she cares for deeply and whom she owes everything to. She is also very beautiful and while she isn't the smartest Bond girl of them all, her gradual relationship with Bond provides one of the series few true love stories.
If the film has a fault in it, it would have to be the villains. While both Jeroen Krabbe and Joe Don Baker are great actors, this isn't there shinning moment. Both of the characters of General Georgi Koskov and Brad Whitaker are too UN-villain like to be bad guys. Any menace that Koskov might have had is ruined by the fact that he is constantly kissing everyone on the cheek. Brad Whitaker is also too weird to be a villain. He is in many respects the ultimate military historian and in another the craziest. At least unlike Koskov, he does have a great final showdown with Bond during the fantastic gun battle at the films end.
The supporting cast is also excellent. Andreas Wisniewski is great as Necros. He is menacing and despite being an obvious take on Red Grant from FRWL, he manages to be original. John Rhys-Davies and Art Malik are fantastic as the allies of the film. Both actors are initially suspicious to us, but when they are revealed as allies they are the ones we want on Bond's side. Too bad we didn't see more of them. And let's not forget Thomas Wheatley as Saunders. He is the ultimate bureaucratic agent. But he can get the job done and he's so good that when he becomes the film's sacrificial lamb we feel for his loss. As for Caroline Bliss and John Terry it is hard to find good things to say. Both were replacements for well-known and beloved characters in the series and it wasn't going to be easy. Here they failed. Neither has enough screen time to establish them in the parts and when they are on screen they are lousy at best.
The action sequences are among the best in the series. The teaser featuring the training exercise and later chase on Gibraltar was the best until Goldeneye. The car chase is not only the best car chase since FYEO but also the triumphant return of the classic Aston Martin. While the car has gadgets, they are at least believable and the chase features the classic scene of the police car being split in half and Bond and Kara escaping over the border in the cello case. Other great action scenes include the roof top chase in Morocco, the battle at the Afghan airbase, and the gun battle between Bond and Whitaker. But the films best action sequence is the cargo net fight at the film's end. The excellent editing together of the aerial footage and footage shot in the studio puts together the best fight sequence since the beach fight in OHMSS. Despite the action, the film's plot never suffers and makes this perhaps the best-paced Bond film.
There is also the matter of John Barry's score. It is largely action based making excellent use of the main title theme song, the song "Where Has Everybody Gone?" and the James Bond Theme and taking a heavy synthesizer feel. That the score a feel of being both modern and yet a classic feeling. But perhaps the films best music is the romantic music used in the scenes between Bond and Kara. There is also the suspenseful music used in the desert sequences that, while featuring the synthesizer feel of the action scenes, still feels in place and reminds the listener of Barry's classic suspense music.
The films songs are a mixed bag. The main title theme, a musical collaboration between Barry and the rock group aha, is a good main title song. It is heavily rock though and the lack of an orchestral feel hurts the song considerable and it pales in comparison to the main title song from AVTAK. The films other two songs , while being great to listen to, feel out of place in a Bond movie.
Despite weak villains, a couple of questionable supporting players, a rather complicated plot, and a mixed song bag, this film delivers. With Timothy Dalton's grand performance as Bond, Maryam d'Abo as Kara, a good supporting cast, great action scenes, and a great score, The Living Daylights delivers a classic Bond adventure that ranks just outside the top five classic films.
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