The Living Daylights takes Bond a lot more seriously. It’s the fifteenth film in the long running franchise, and it’s based on one of the short stories featured in Ian Fleming’s book Octopussy and The Living Daylights. Since it was obvious Roger Moore was too old to play James Bond, a younger actor needed to fill the role posthaste. Many actors were being considered to play 007. Including Sam Neill and Pierce Brosnan (more on him later), but the fourth actor to portray Bond became British stage actor Timothy Dalton. Upon earning the role, Dalton chose to distance himself from Moore’s portrayal as much as possible. Going for a more serious and reluctant Bond closer to the book’s description of the character. A younger Miss Moneypenny was chosen as well, portrayed by Caroline Bliss.
The Mission: Assist in defection of KGB officer and investigate a connected arms deal in Afghanistan
Gadgets & Vehicles: Aston Martin V8 (equipped with missiles, lasers, heads-up display, outrigger, tire spikes, rocket motor, radio scanner, reinforced chassis, and self-destruct), Whistling Keychain, Miniature Binoculars
Bond Girls: Kara Milovy
Bond Villains: General Koskov, Brad Whitaker, Necros, Colonel Feydor, Sergeant Stagg
Analysis: The Living Daylights ditches the campy tone of past Bond films, in favor of a grittier tone. Considering the 80’s contained many darker movies. The Timothy Dalton Bond films were always a point of intrigue for me. Although they were both fairly well received, my parents always told me they never bought him as Bond. I can certainly understand why after watching them. He’s a brilliant thespian of the theatrical arts, but his thinner frame made him less physically intimidating. I understand taking Bond seriously, but Dalton’s lack of a sense of humor just feels so cold. Like all Bond actors, he’s required to say “Bond, James Bond.” His reading didn’t do much to convince me. Then again, I do still find The Living Daylights to be one of the better Bond ventures. It’s possible Timothy Dalton’s portrayal was just misunderstood or ahead of its time. His Bond’s biggest strength is stunts. As the movie opens with a skydiving sequence followed by the watery opening credits sequence. The upbeat theme is performed by A-Ha. While on a mission, 007 comes across a female cellist attempting to assassinate a defecting KGB officer. After scaring the living daylights out of her, Bond tries to get answers out of her. Kara Milovy is a cellist and the only notable Bond girl in the movie. Apart from a large woman who assists in the Soviet defection. In order to keep things edgy, the main villain, General Koskov, is an oafish American arms dealer. His henchman, Necros, stands out for being an imposing master of disguise. Despite Dalton’s more ruthless take on 007, he continues to say one-liners and there are still plenty of wacky gadgets. Q supplies Bond with an all new gadget equipped Aston Martin and even an explosive keychain activated by whistling. His one-liners are said with complete seriousness. The most memorable action scenes take place on a cargo plane and on a snowy mountain side. Where Bond and Milovy ride her cello case like a sled. The crazy situations don’t always match the tone, but The Living Daylights is still a serviceable Bond outing.
James Bond will return in License to Kill