Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Living Daylights (1987)

Russian General Koskov defects, but it is all a lie to get all sides running around, so he and a arms dealer General Brad Whittaker can prepare a new world war to make money of the sales of arms.

Moore left and now it’s time to shake things up, time to get Bond back to being Bond, James Bond. Timothy Dalton takes centre stage and he fills it so well, with the opening pre-title sequence where a training operation is over-run by an assassin. You know you’re in safe hands when the lead actor can be seen actually doing a lot of his own stunts and more importantly you believe he could kill you. Dalton brings with him a sense of realism to the role, he plays the role gritty, close to his instincts but has the stony side that a young Connery has and the wit and charm of Moore.

With Dalton comes a new Monepenny, a younger model and a fresh thinking woman played by Caroline Bliss. Jeroen Krabbe plays the film’s villain – but saying that, this Bond film is a tangled web of espionage, very much in the vain of From Russia With Love was. There’s more than just one nemesis- Joe Don Baker plays corrupt arms dealer Brad Whittaker- and the Bond Girl is played by Maryam d’Abo. The interesting thing here is for first time in numerous films, the female role has been treated as actually a role, a character, and not just a piece of set dressing, She’s a independent, competent woman and what’s nice is she is an innocent party who got mixed up with a wrong individual.

The action is handled superbly, ranging from a car chase across the snow of the Austrian border, with a Bond car full of (very Goldfinger) gadgets, that leads to using a cello case as a sled. We have the action move location and it then takes place in Afghanistan, which at the time was in the control of the USSR and Bond helps the local rebels (Taliban?). But probably the most remembered action sequence is Bond hanging out on a net from the back of a plane, tens of thousands of feet high in the sky, fighting Koskov’s henchman – just classic Bondian fun, but now with a Dalton cutting edge.

This film manages to walk the fine line, it delivers new Bond, a Bond for the late 80s – a Bond closer to the book while at the same time keeping just the right amount of fun in the film, giving us an action adventure film that delivers just what a Bond fan wants and to be honest needed at that time.  It is truly one of my favourites as Dalton is our Welsh James Bond.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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