Agent 007 is assigned to protect a Russian defector, who claims
that the KGB's new chief has reinstated the hostile policy
of Smiert Spionem (Death to Spies). When the defection proves
to be an elaborate ploy, Bond is embroiled in a web of murder
and deceit involving a crooked American arms dealer supplying
weapons to Afghanistan...
the lighter approach taken by Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton's
Bond couldn't have been more different. Dalton sought to give
the character a harder edge, basing his interpretation more
closely on the writings of Ian Fleming. This attitude happened
to coincide with an approach that director John Glen had been
edging towards ever since For Your Eyes Only. Together,
Dalton and Glen give us a Bond who, while indisputably still
the good guy, looks as though he is capable of killing when
necessary (witness Bond's murderous expression after his fellow
agent is killed at the fun fair). Bond's return to cigarettes
(Moore had favoured cigars) and references to Smiert Spionem
(i.e. SMERSH) also echo Fleming's books.
heroes need to change with the times, so the production team
stop short of resurrecting Fleming's 1950s creation wholesale.
Bond's notorious bed-hopping and misogyny are played down:
following the pre-credits sequence, he is intimate with only
one woman, Kara (Maryam d'Abo). Critics have poured scorn
on the notion of a "politically correct" Bond but, to be frank,
a woman-hating "hero" was simply not palatable in 1987, any
more than it is now. In fact, 007's monogamy helps to strengthen
the plot by creating a real sense of emotional attachment
between hero and heroine. And it's not as though Bond has
suddenly gone all soft on us, is it? He remains an extremely
rough diamond, whose friendly patting of Moneypenny's (Caroline
Bliss) backside would be grounds for a case of sexual harassment
in any real-life workplace!
d'Abo is not given a particularly strong role as Kara, who
comes across as rather feeble and helpless. However, she remains
one of the loveliest actresses ever to have played a Bond
girl. She and Dalton ooze sexuality during their love scenes,
even though Dalton is briefly let down by scriptwriters Richard
Maibaum and Michael G Wilson, and has to deliver the horrendous
line, "Are you calling me a horse's arse?"
The movie has also been criticised for its lack of a powerful
central villain. I prefer to regard the use of a villainous
duo as a strength, since it is more original than the standard
Bond movie template. Jeroen Krabbé is delightfully eccentric
as the defector Koskov, who is not immediately revealed to
be a bad guy, while Joe Don Baker (who would go on to play
Jack Wade in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies)
is suitably unbalanced as the war-obsessed arms dealer Brad
Living Daylights was the final Bond film until 2006's
Casino Royale to take its title from a Fleming story.
For the next fifteen years, the production team would devise
new titles as well as new stories, and subsequent movies would
as part of the Bond literary canon. Maibaum and Wilson take
the plot of Fleming's short story as their starting point
and use it as the springboard for a complex and entertaining
action thriller. Despite its relatively faithful adaptation
of the short story, the screenplay could still be novelised,
so long as some explanation is offered for the repeated plot
elements. It could be that Koskov is inspired by accounts
of the assassin known as Trigger (the female sniper in the
short story) when he concocts his phoney defection, though
he might not realise it was Bond who let her live, otherwise
he wouldn't have requested the agent as a marksman.
two principal ingredients make this movie. One of these is
Dalton. The other is the music. Not the insipid title song
by a-ha, but John Barry's final Bond score to date. His action
themes, which - like subsequent David Arnold scores - incorporate
a pulse-pounding, dance-style beat, accentuate the numerous
stunt sequences and visceral fight scenes to perfection.
thing I noticed for the first time, though, is that Maurice
Binder's title sequence has nothing at all to do with the
plot of the movie. All the other Bond title sequences have
used ideas and motifs from the screen story. A few cellos,
cello cases or sniper rifles would have been useful.
special features include both the music video and the making
of the music video to a-ha's title song (should you ever wish
to hear it again). Curiously, the pop video that accompanied
the chart release of The Pretenders' end title track, "If
There Was a Man", remains absent. Nor do we get to see Sam
Neill's full screen test for the role of Bond, though we do
get most of it in the documentary Inside The Living Daylights,
which also reveals just how close Pierce Brosnan came to playing
007 back in 1986. In addition to the previously seen deleted
scene in which Bond escapes from pursuers on a "magic carpet",
we see further trims from the Q's lab sequence and footage
from the filming of the ice chase. Also new to DVD are the
50-minute silver anniversary television programme, Happy
Anniversary 007, introduced by Roger Moore, and contemporary
interviews with Dalton and d'Abo.
You'd be a horse's arse to miss this!