250 films - IMDB


Sunday 26 December 2010

James Bond in review - The Living Daylights (John Glen, 1987)

"I take it this is not a social call 007?"
"Correct, you should have brought lillies"

Perhaps there is no better quotation to describe Dalton's no-nonsense approach to Fleming's world famous secret agent. Moving sharply away from the humour that became almost a character itself in the later Moore Bond era, it is clear to see that Dalton's careful research of Fleming's Bond of the early novels was time well spent. From the moment you see Dalton on screen in an upper body shot inquisitively and solemnly watching the body of 004 plummet to ground from the rock of Gibraltar, we are instantly aware that this is a very different Bond - a 007 not to be messed with.

Dalton's Bond waiting for Koskov's sniper

The Living Daylights provides Dalton the chance to take Bond in a realistic, thriller-like direction. The dialogue is some of the sharpest in the series, the supporting cast are, on the whole, great, and Dalton's Bond if only for a brief tenure, becomes a one woman man. The film doesn't take itself too seriously. Jeroen Krabbe hams up his role as Georgi Koskov, becoming a theatrical villain who gets his comeuppance in a genuinely amusing scene at the end of the film. Dalton is also on hand to provide some carefully timed one liners that are more zone out and you'll miss them than Moore's unavoidable, extroverted clangers.

Maryam D'Abo in a publicity shot for The Living Daylights as Kara

Bond is characteristically a private man who keeps his emotions to himself and gets the job done efficiently and successfully. Dalton further develops Fleming's Bond by making him fallible. As Dalton himself expressed in a press interview whilst filming The Living Daylights, Bond is "not a super hero", he is a tainted man with a harsh outlook on life. He is relatable in that sense and easy to root for. As characters in the film go, Caroline Bliss' Miss Moneypenny probably provides the biggest disappointment. The younger secretary to flirt with Dalton's younger Bond was a sensible idea but Bliss seems so inappropriate on screen in the short scenes she is in that Bond afficionados can't help wishing Lois Maxwell was still in the role. Maryam D'Abo's portrayal of the cellist Kara Milovy is a better female character in the film, obviously, but still hit and miss. At moments she provides some good comedy, remarking to Bond that they are free for Bond to retort that they are still stranded in a Russian airbase in Afghanistan, and she is the only Bond girl to be able to call Bond a 'horse's arse!' Other times she looks a little uncomfortable and very timid opposite Dalton's hard edged protagonist. She becomes a worthy leading lady when she leads the pursuit after 007 with Kamran's men in the desert, informing them bluntly and powerfully "You owe him your life!" Kara obviously respects Bond and is therefore respected by the audience as a credible love interest for Dalton's 007.

The note attached to 009's body - Smiert Spionam (Russian for 'death to spies')

Essentially this is back to basics Bond. It takes a lot for a director to come into a leviathan of a series like Bond and some gumption to introduce a new actor playing 007 and John Glen succeeds well, giving audiences perhaps the most intriguing Bond film of the five that he helmed as director. There are no hollowed out volcanoes or super tankers, just believable characterisation and an intelligent screenplay. A promising debut for Dalton... Timothy Dalton.

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