Monday, 19 March 2012

The Living Daylights (1987)

Following the highs, lows and extended run of Roger Moore as 007, the series needed an enema; even Roger by his own admission was too old for this role. Whether he likes it or not Timothy Dalton was the enema. Interestingly, though Dalton was Cubby Broccoli’s first choice for the role, he was initially unavailable and it looked as though Pierce Brosnan was set to star. However, with some jiggery pokery in shooting schedules, Dalton was eventually able to take the role.

The story is almost a hark back to the cold-war espionage plot of From Russia with Love, involving apparent Russian defectors, fake kidnaps, arms deals, diamond smuggling, Russian occupation of Afghanistan and of course the KGB. For all of that, I thought that the plot was easier to understand than a lot of the recent films, which generally required a serious suspension of disbelief or a leap of faith. Directing his fourth of five James Bond films John Glen has managed to take a fairly convoluted plot, make it accessible as well as shoot some tremendous action scenes.

Not only is there the pre-credit sequence in which actually Timothy Dalton clings on to the top of a Land Rover for dear life; there is a substantial sequence in the Alps (though not as impressive as For Your Eyes Only) which though sometimes ridiculous is perfectly executed; and (according to my James Bond Encyclopedia) a climactic battle that is still the largest ever in a Bond film.

Timothy Dalton injects real verve into a character we last saw about to keel over. Dalton brings a real sense of immediacy and action to 007. Plus he makes a very convincing green-eyed Arab!

The only girl of any note is Kara Milovy (played by Maryam d'Abo); a cellist-come-sniper whom Bond scares the living daylights out of. She’s not particularly feisty, not really annoying, she’s just, well, kind of just nice really. You could imagine taking her home to meet your Mum; perhaps not really Bond girl material though.

The bad guys are a strange bunch: a Dutch Russian (Jeroen Krabbé), an English Russian (John Rhys-Davies), and an American, well, American (Joe Don Baker). Rather than one of these guys being in the background pulling all the strings, all three are very involved in the action. Koskov (Dutch Russian) is fake-kidnapped, Pushkin (English Russian) is fake-shot, and Brad Whitaker (American American) has a mysterious force-field on his gun which makes secret agents at the top of their game only shoot directly at the shield!

Hooray for Timothy Dalton, once again James Bond is dynamic, up for adventure, quick-witted and ready to take decisive action. I'm thinking that the next change of Bond will not be as momentous as this one. Blogalongabond will return in Licence Revoked To Kill.

Order of Preference so far:

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