Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bond 15: The Living Daylights (1987)

Director: John Glen

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Jeroen Krabbe, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Licensed to thrill.

Plot: After Bond helps Russian officer Georgi Koskov make a daring defection to the West, the intelligence community is shocked when Koskov is abducted from his remote hiding place. Bond leaps into action, following a trail that leads to the gorgeous Kara, who plays Bond as easily as she plays her Stradivari cello. As they unravel a complex weapons scheme with global implications, they are forced into hair-raising chases, a riveting jailbreak and an epic battle in the Afghanistan desert with tanks, airplanes and a legion of freedom fighters on horseback.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Count on it

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love ALL of the actors that have played Bond. I may not like some of their movies (all of them if your name is Brosnan) but I like what each actor brought to the game. I loved Moore but A VIEW TO A KILL (1985) was not a good movie and it was time to step aside. Dalton brings the character much more down to Earth, losing most of the silliness we'd gotten used to and doing some quality acting. Of all the actors that had portrayed bond by this point, Dalton was the one who was an accomplished actor. He'd done his meaty roles and now it was time for desert.

GodDAMN I wish I were that handsome.

I remember when this came out and how excited I was to see it. It was the first Bond post high school and the first one I could drive myself to. For a brief moment I thought I could be Bond. I've since discovered that I really am but we'll leave those adventures for another time.

See what I mean? Look at this man act! It's astonishing! You don't see
moments like this in Bond pictures where the actor is just left to sit and emote.

I loved this film to death and I still do. Dalton is fantastic. d'Abo is absolutely adorable. Unlike many of the other beautiful women I've written about, d'Abo HAS had one of my babies.

Here's a Bond story that's not made up of bits and pieces of previous Bond films (for the most pat) and it really trys to be an original Bond film. It's refreshing for a change. It's not that that can kill a film because it's not what you've got to work with but what you do with the material that matters. The stunt work in this is balls out insane. During the extraction of Koskov from the safe house, there's a great one-on-one fight that goes on longer than most films would allow two non-main characters to duke it out. It's fast and painful and I'm thrilled Glen (known more as an action director than an acting one) kept it in. The climactic cargo plane stunt near the end is fucking amazing and is one of the best stunts in a movie - EVER! It gets back to the earlier Bond pictures where they were always trying to top the previous film's groundbreaking stunts. They nailed it this time. It still tenses me up and it's a beautifully edited & crafted set piece.

NO! Not the electric knife!

The cello case chase is a lot of fun, too. What keeps it from being ridiculous is that it looks plausible (and fun). I tried it with my trumpet case once and failed. TLD isn't completely without the stupid silly sight gags and corny one-liners you expect in these things but at least they toned it down. The main title sequence isn't memorable but it's better than AVTAK's neon shit.

This scene (that lasts a good 3-4 seconds) is the ONLY nude scene in the entire franchise!

And then there's John Barry's magnificent score. We didn't know it at the time but it was to be his last Bond score and that is just too bad because they sure could have used him for the next two films. It's a great score and his love theme is tender and beautiful. A-Ha's song (composed by Barry) is good. I'm not too keen on the idea of having them perform it but they're not the worst artist(s) to do a Bond tune. We also get two songs written by Barry and performed by The Pretenders, "Where Has Every Body Gone?" and "If There Was a Man" (based on the love theme). It is fitting that his last Bond picture gives him a cameo as the orchestra conductor.

Joe Don Baker's over-the-top role of Brad Whitaker is a bit much but then he's a fun actor to watch. It's a top-notch film that a lot of Bond fans dismiss (as well as Dalton's next and final turn in a Bond film) which is too bad for them. I've yet to meet a Bond aficionado that shares my taste. So be it. It's always good for some heated discussion, especially when my love for MOONRAKER comes into it.

"Moonraker was a GOOD movie and this bullet's going to prove me right!"

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts to...

Licence to Kill (1989)

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