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Revisiting "The Living Daylights"

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#1 SecretAgentFan



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Posted 18 May 2015 - 01:46 PM

Roger Moore was my first Bond.  I loved his portrayal - but I wasn´t sad when he left.  I was excited for a new Bond.  


Back then, with no internet, only the usual movie magazines and newspapers, the chatter about candidates for Moore´s successor was, of course, much more quiet.  I remember Lewis Collins, fresh from his hit TV show "The Professionals", being one of them, and since I liked him a lot I was looking forward to him.


Then, this Timothy Dalton was chosen, and on the picture in that newspaper I thought he looked a bit smug.  (Which he wasn´t at all.)


But when I saw the film -  I just could not catch any movie during that time that featured the preview of "The Living Daylights" - I was immediately hooked and delighted.  Dalton was tough, serious but still light-hearted enough.  And the film, capitalizing on the Cold War, worked extremely well for me.  It was a modern take on Bond films with just the right amount of fresh ingredients, and it offered the kind of adventure that made me forget everything else for two hours.


The film became one of my favorite Bond films and remained that over the years.  Re-watching it now I´m not surprised - I still love it.  So far, it is my favorite John Glen-Bond, and the final 30 minutes with the battle on the airfield and the fight outside the plane are IMO one of the greatest action sequences of any Bond film, just gripping and tension-filled, perfectly realized.  


Of course, John Barry´s last Bond score is a marvel that elevates the film even more.

#2 Major Tallon

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 02:05 PM

Unreserved agreement!  Nicely said, SecretAgentFan.

#3 trevanian



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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:04 PM

After seeing it opening night, I felt like SLEEPING BEAUTY, having gone through the better part of two decades of nightmares, waking to, if not the magic of Connery -- who had captivated me from age 4 when my mom stupidly brought me to see GOLDFINGER -- then certainly a very viable incarnation of many characteristics of Fleming's Bond.


For me, Connery and Dalton remain THE ONES as far as playing Bond goes.


For me, the only things I don't like about TLD (outside of the studio shot introducing Bond, which everybody else on earth just loves) revolve around some of the overlit stage sets and the lack of presence among the villains. Necros is okay and Koskov is amusing, but Whitaker is a dud on the level of Eliot Carver or Stromberg. Oh, and as an ancillary item, I found the long-awaited making of TLD book to be a huge disappointment too, with most of the new information being massively uninteresting (the unused story was painful to read.)


I probably rewatch TLD more than any Bond besides FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and they remain my two faves, with LICENCE TO KILL (which to me FEELS like early Fleming in terms of depicting a seriously dangerous environment that Bond lives in) coming in at #3.

#4 David_M


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Posted 18 May 2015 - 05:07 PM

I really enjoyed this one, as well.  I was a huge Roger fan, so I was (paradoxically?) glad to see him step down.  He wasn't doing himself or anyone else any favors by dragging it out.  I was very much in favor of Brosnan getting the role at the time (eventually I would learn the wisdom of the old saying, "be careful what you wish for") and I had no idea who Timothy Dalton was, even though I'd already seen him in "Flash Gordon."


I agree Dalton brought a real edge to the role, and an energy it hadn't had in some time.  Not "energy" in the sense of running up and through walls like Craig, but rather a sort of smoldering tension, a sense of menace that made you sit up and lean forward for scenes that, in other hands, would've been less compelling.  There was the feeling that just below the polished surface, there was something dark and scary going on in that mind of his.  Ironically, given that we had a new and younger actor in the role, Bond suddenly seemed more world-weary and jaded than ever.


TLD worked for me because it had the formula elements I loved, but everything seemed different and fresh, anyway.  Dalton was allowed some humorous moments and contrary to what seems to be popular wisdom, he was quite good at them.  But he could also turn on a dime and convey barely-controlled rage (which is always scarier than full-out, uncontrolled rage) and ruthlessness.  Unfortunately, at least from my point of view, his effectiveness at the latter seemed to have convinced the producers to write LTK with an "all-angry, all the time" Bond, and that entry would be much less of a hit with me.


If I had a criticism of TLD it's that the plot seems needlessly complicated. I think Whitaker could've been dropped from the film entirely without making much of a difference, which means the showdown at the end isn't all that thrilling (After the great stuff on the plane, I'd have been just as happy if M just reported, "Oh by the way, we've arrested that arms dealer fellow.")  I don't even consider him the "villain" of the piece, so his "come-uppance" means nothing to me, and he's obviously no physical threat to 007.  But at least Joe Don Baker is merely "meh" in this entry...things would get about a hundred times worse when he returned as (ugh!) Jack Wade (I am convinced that's just the Gaelic pronunciation of his actual name, "Jerk Wad.")

#5 SecretAgentFan



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Posted 19 May 2015 - 04:30 AM

Strangely, I had completely forgotten that the parrot from FYEO makes a cameo appearance in TLD!  And that this film also featured... a laser gun!


Back to Fleming, I guess... ;-)

#6 AMC Hornet

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 07:58 PM

Just as David M says, even as a Moore fan I was glad to see a bold change. Dalton made such an impression on me that I cannot imagine that he was the same Bond who had just huffed and puffed his way through India and San Francisco. I see TLD as a discreet reboot for those who want it to be, making Dalton 007 MK2 and Craig 007 MK3.


Agreed about Whittaker, but Koskov was too charming a con man for Bond to kill. Leaving him to an unsympathetic Pushkin was a nice touch. Whittaker needed at least one more scene to show him as something more than a militaristic buffoon with appalling table manners. Granted, he might not have been a physical threat to Bond, but covered in body armour and toting an 80-round assault rifle...


I left the theatre that first day confident that Bond was in good hands. I wouldn't feel that way again until the end of 1997.

#7 quantumofsolace


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Posted 22 June 2015 - 12:03 PM


#8 New Digs

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Posted 22 June 2015 - 04:38 PM

I am old enough to remember seeing Daylights in the cinema as a kid in '87. What struck me then was the freshness and mis-en-scene of the film; it seemed to spell Fleming in the way the best Bond films do. It was darker with a certain sophistication and assuredness to it, and inevitably Dalton's casting was key here. I love the plot references to 'Smiert Spionam', 'defectors' and 'snipers'. It was also great to watch some scenes with real dialogue, Bond thinking and working things through. The plot seemed much more real and this was something that inevitably served to heighten the dramatic effect of the already top notch action scenes in the film.


To some extent I find it odd that people criticise the villains because the film has a definite sense of danger that was missing in most of the preceding Moore films. Bond knows the villains mean business especially when Saunders is killed and when Koskov explains his defection on the plane before the last act of the film. 


Even though I loved Roger Moore (and AVTAK is one of my favourites) Daylight's really made you sit up take notice of the Bond character and how good the Bond films can be. I totally agree with SecretAgentFan that the last thirty minutes is one of the best endings to any Bond film and is a showcase for technical brilliance in action and stunts that only the Bonds can deliver. Full kudos to the cast, and especially director Glen who handles character, pacing and action wonderfully, screenwriter Maibaum for one of his best Bond scripts and composer Barry who left on a high.   

#9 DaveBond21



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Posted 23 June 2015 - 05:48 AM

I watched this in the cinema in 1987 and I remember thinking how modern it all looked. It was really fresh and new back then.