The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights (1987)

The Cast: Timothy Dalton (James Bond); Maryam D`abo (Kara Milovy) ;Jeroen Krabbe (General Koskov); Art Malik (Kamran Shah) ;Joe Don Baker (Brad Whitaker)

The Supporting Cast: Andreas Wisniewski (Necros); John Rhys-Davies (Pushkin); Robert Brown (`M`); Caroline Bliss (Moneypenny); Desmond Lewellyn (`Q`); Geoffrey Keen (Minister of Defense)

Credits: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by John Glen; Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson; Music by John Barry; Title Song by A-ha; Lyrics by John Barry and Pal Waaktar; Filmed on location in Morocco, Austria, England and The Rock of Gilbraltar; Running Time 2 hours and 10 minutes

Villains Idiosyncrasy: Whitaker`s love of militaria leads to his death; Necros` ability to blend into any enviroment like a chameleon/likes to strangle his enemies with the headphones of his portable Walkman.

Best lines: `He got the boot.` and `We have an old saying too, Georgi…and you`re full of it.

Box office: $191,000,000.00 (1987 dollars/worldwide gross); $281,521,148.64 (adjusted for 1999 inflation)

With `The Living Daylights`, the producers attempted to make a successful Bond movie portraying 007 as more ruthless than we`ve seen before. In order to do that, the producers sacrificed many of the elements and qualities that people come to expect in a Bond film. This is unfortunate because Dalton`s strict, realistic approach to the role necessitated that everything else around him continue in the fantastical vein that preceded this film. It doesn`t, and the film becomes so realistic and contemporary that it loses some of the luster of fantasy and make believe.

As the 007 Ian Fleming created in his novels, Dalton`s approach is dead on. No one comes more close to what Fleming`s Bond was really all about better than Timothy Dalton. Almost all credit must be given to Dalton on this fact because he made it his own personal mission to read every Ian Fleming novel cover to cover once he was cast as Bond. But what about the screen legend of 007? Most people come to the theater with a certain expectation of what they want to see from their Bond film. Dalton brought a different approach to the role that may have gone over better had the rest of the film been stocked with the usual Bond trademarks. In fact, the producers cut short one action sequence involving a `magic carpet ride` and a motorcycle chase through the streets and marketplaces of Tangier, for, among several reasons, the desire to shift some of the focus away from cartoonish stunts onto the reality of the subject at hand.

The Bond Girls. Where are they? In the case of The Living Daylights, it`s the Bond Girl. Here, we only have one in the form of Maryam d`Abo. The relationship between Bond and Kara is the most honest, heartfelt and fleshed out romance since `On Her Majesty`s Secret Service`. But again, in order to attain a more realistic approach for the film, the producers jettisoned the concept of two or more exotic and dangerous Bond Girls, instead settling upon one, almost virginal Cello player whom 007 romances. Luckily, the romance works. Maryam d`Abo is not only beautiful, but she`s a very talented actress who gives a fine performance as an innocent waif, betrayed by her boyfriend and forced into desperate, international tensions.

The villains are one of the highlights and yet weaknesses of the film. Joe Don Baker is woefully underused; acting in only four scenes. One couldn`t help but wish Whitaker got more screen time. Necros, the film`s henchman, has a particularly interesting way of dispatching his victims: he strangles them with the headset to his Walkman. Koskov is the weasley, spineless coward who tricks Bond into helping him defect.

If the film has one fatal flaw it would be the plot. There is no sense of urgency to Bond`s work. Whether his mission is successful or a failure is of little importance. If he`s successful, he`ll temporarily slow down an ongoing war between Russian forces and the Afghanistan Mujahedin. If he fails, an 8 year old war will continue with business as usual. Without the threat of the whole world at risk, or at least millions of people to save, there`s no real barometer to measure 007`s success by. When you have a character oriented story, such as this one, rather than an issue oriented storyline, then you`ve got to be able to make sure your audience identifies with and connects with the leading character. I`m not quite sure Timothy Dalton ever made the connection with the audience in quite the way producers wanted.

The titles are a step backward for Maurice Binder. Hoping to cash in on the enormous youth/teenager market Duran Duran grabbed for their work in A View To A Kill, the producers brought in A-ha to do the title song. The song is not within the normal sound produced by A-ha and they later released a new version on their third album, which was more within their style. Either version of the song sounds good, but it`s unlikely to sustain your attention unless you already knew it was a Bond theme song.

John Barry`s soundtrack is his least impressive work to date. His action cues leave the audience wanting. It wasn`t a particularly stong score, but as usual, the romantic scenes prove no challenge to him, and are the highlight of the soundtrack.

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