The Living Daylights (1987)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Snap! It’s Dalton.

It’s always fun to see James Bond regenerate like the Doctor in Doctor Who, because in a way, that’s exactly what happens. With each regeneration and recasting of the role, the overall tone and feel of things changes dramatically…whether for the good or bad. Sean Connery was a legend, he played the role probably better than anyone ever could, but filming techniques just don’t translate well fifty years later. Daniel Craig is the closest to Connery, and he really freshened up the series, but we’ll get to that later. Roger Moore was a joke; he looked the part at first, but all he ever did was make puns and prance around like he owned the place. From Moore, we go to Timothy Dalton with The Living Daylights, where the series seriously shifted gears to be more serious, as Bond should be. I couldn’t be more surprised or happy.

So the story here is that James Bond is hired to protect a KGB guy as he is defected, whatever that means. After he get the job done, he is informed that the new head of KGB has begun an operation to kill government agent, which meant that Bond was on the list. He didn’t believe the head of KGB was evil, but he was ordered to assassinate him anyways, so he took the job regardless. When he teams up with Bond girl Kara, he quickly begins to realize the plot at hand, which had to do with drug and weapon smuggling.

The first thing you’re pretty much going to realize right off the bat is that we have left camp, boys and girls. That weird…campy, goofy tone of the previous films have finally washed away and we have gotten back to that darker, edgier Bond that we knew was there all along. Timothy Dalton brings more action and excitement to the role, but I think his character could have used some help with the classic Bond charm. On the positive side, he wasn’t a womanizing pig because he was focusing more on the task at hand.

This film had one Bond girl as opposed to the average 2-3 in the previous installments, and I like that. Kara, the Bond girl in this film, was great. This is the third time in the series where I’ve actually liked the Bond girl because she had something to offer. This girl was mysterious, for example. Before you get to know her, along with Bond, you’re interested in her…she has a story to tell and you know it. Not only that, but she has a boyfriend, and Bond is actually respectful of that for once in his life, which is great to see. That’s a different kind of charm all together, which just gave this film that much more oomph.

I can’t get away with a review without mentioning how many changes there were. I’m talking – so many changes it’s practically revolutionary for James Bond. In the first scene, James Bond protects this man by sending him through the Trans-Siberian Pipeline through the city at a high speed. That scene reminds me of a bank’s suction tube, but on a larger scale. This film also really introduced us to some truly beautiful shots. The other films had a lot of focus on story, and this film added a more developed sense of cinematography to the list. There was a new spy car with new spy gear that was amazing. Of course, Dalton’s entire representation of Bond is darker and edgier, just what the series needed, the Bond girl was great as mentioned above, and there was so many memorable scenes including Bond and Kara sledding down a mountain in a cello case, using the cello to steer.

The Living Daylights isn’t the most thought-out James Bond title, but it was responsible for introducing us to one of the best James Bond representations out there. It gives us hope for what’s to come in the future, and hopes that Dalton can bring it, if only for one more time.


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