April 14, 2024

BOND #15: THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987)

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Rating: ⭐⭐ 1/2

The 15th James Bond movie, The Living Daylights introduces us to a new Bond played by Timothy Dalton. What a breath of fresh air Timothy Dalton brings to the series as Roger Moore’s adventures grew increasingly bland and self parody for our liking. The more serious persona Timothy Dalton brings to his character is a welcome departure from the always cartoonish and comic style that Moore has mastered. The stigma of James Bond being portrayed as being a ladies man is however still strong and here Timothy Dalton had to obliged with some customary sexist remarks and bad one liners jokes, although admittedly delivered in an unconvincing dead pan manner. He seems more comfortable doing the more serious stuff like actual spy work. Indeed Timothy Dalton’s portrayal of James Bond seems at odds with how the series want it to be. Dalton seems comfortable playing the character straight and more real, but the series have evolved to something that is more fantasy than real, more comedy than drama, more dodgy than virtuous. 

Happily the story this time, centering around the defection of a key Russian spy and arms and drug deals has more substance than usual and helped provide more substance for a new more serious Bond. There is less over the top stunts this time around which makes this have  more down to earth feel. The female lead Maryam d’Abo has the look of a classic beauty and not surprisingly her character falls in love with Bond just like what happened in Octopussy. While Bond is shown to do the respectable gentleman thing by courting the poor lass before bedding her, we are left wondering how the girl will take it when he eventually dumps her before his next mission.

The villains in The Living Daylights were however not memorable and rather weak. Joe Don Baker as the big bad arms and drugs dealer is all bark without the bite while his henchman looks suitably menacing but ineffective. So even thought we have a better overall plot, the bad guys in this case were lacking.

Once again the theme song earn top marks with Norwegian group A-HA taking the honours this time with the usual competent music score by John Barry.

The Living Daylights has craved a milestone in the series as it evolves further away from the all out comedic self parody style of Roger Moore to a more serious landscape. Sadly Timothy Dalton does not get a chance to play a major role in this change as he only got to play the role twice before being replaced by Pierce Bosnan. This first outing from Timothy Dalton is promising although overall, it fails to be one of the more memorable Bond movies because it lacked a great villain or any unforgettable action sequences.

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