After appearing in seven James Bond movies, Roger Moore decided to leave the series. Several actors were tested, and Pierce Brosnan was cast first. Then there were huge complications when the network ordered a few more episodes of Remington Steele and producer Albert R. Broccoli changed his mind and took the part away from Brosnan. Broccoli didn't want Bond associated with a character on a current television show. The part then went to Timothy Dalton, who makes his first appearance as Bond in The Living Daylights.
MI6 is taking part in a special training exercise on the Rock of Gibraltar and James Bond is one of the agents taking part. Things go wrong and one of the MI6 agents is killed. James is then assigned to help another MI6 agent with the defection of General Georgi Koskov, a KGB agent. An assassin assigned to prevent the defection turns out to be Kara Milovy, a cellist which makes James believe that something is fishy about the situation. In England, Koskov claims that General Puskin, the new head of the KGB, has revived an old policy of killing spies from other countries. Shortly after Koskov shares that information, he is abducted by a man named Necros.
James discovers some things that make him think that Koskov is behind everything. James sets out to stop him with the help of Kara who still doesn't know exactly what is going on.
The Living Daylights is the fifteenth Bond movie and the first one to feature Timothy Dalton as James. The title of the movie is from one of Ian Fleming's short stories. This is the last movie to use a Fleming title until Casino Royale in 2006. Some of the plot elements were pulled from the short story.
There is a decent amount of action in The Living Daylights. The action starts during the first few minutes when the special exercise at the Rock of Gibraltar is shown. That sequence has James hanging onto the top of a truck that is being driven at high speeds. James ends up fighting with the driver which was a bit unbelievable, even for a Bond movie. James is involved in more fights throughout the movie. There is a lot of shooting and a few explosions throughout the movie. Some of the action scenes didn't work as well for me. During one scene, James and Kara escape a bunch of gun toting enemies by using her cello case as a sled. While they are speeding down the hill with bullets flying all around but never hitting them, James is holding the cello. He did raise it up every so often and even seemed to be swinging it around at times. That was just ridiculous, especially how they crossed the border into Austria.
There is a little bit of mystery in The Living Daylights connected to what is going on with Koskov. It doesn't take that long for the mystery to be resolved even though there are some questions that aren't fully answered until later in the movie. There really isn't much suspense to what is going on either since most things are rather predictable. The plot is all right, but it isn't anything special could have been more interesting that it ultimately was. A few of the sequences did move a bit slow and might bore some viewers.
James is only shown romancing Kara. That makes The Living Daylights the first Bond movie in a long time to only have one sexual partner for James. He notices Kara right away when he is working, even before she tries to act as an assassin. He does seem to be almost obsessed with her at times with how he is determined to track her down regardless of what M wants him to do. He does do things that endanger his mission to track her down. Once he finds her, he keeps the truth from her and manipulates her to get information and to get her into bed. The relationship is fine, but nothing special. It is kind of nice to see James just focused on one woman instead of jumping into bed with every woman he encounters like has happened in previous Bond movies.
James is still the same character overall though he seems a bit more serious. Timothy Dalton is all right in the part, but I don't really care for him as James that much. There is something about his take on the character that I don't like. Since Dalton is younger, some things are more realistic than they have been in previous movies with the aging Moore as Bond. M is around without doing much of anything. For the first time, a different woman plays Miss Moneypenny. Caroline Bliss is younger, but I just don't like her in the part. The chemistry that has always been between Moneypenny and Bond is missing even though she tries to flirt with him. It just didn't work. Q is still the same in his few scenes. A few other agents are briefly shown without being developed that much.
General Georgi Koskov is the member of the KGB who tries to defect early in the movie. He specifically requests that James be involved. It turns out that he is planning something else much bigger and he has lied to many people. Jeroen Krabbe is good in the part, though he isn't as memorable as some of the other Bond villains. General Pushkin is in charge of the KGB and somehow involved in what is going on with Koskov. John Rhys-Davies is good in the part. Brad Whitaker is an arms dealing who is involved as well.
Kara is a cellist who has been dating Koskov. He has promised her all sorts of things to get her to help with his defection plan. She has believed everything he's told her, making her very loyal, though not that smart. She makes some questionable decisions at times. Maryam d'Abo is fine in the part. Kara isn't as interesting or memorable as many of the previous Bond girls have been. CIA agent Felix Leiter turns up in a few scenes to offer a bit of help to James.
Joe Don Baker - Brad Whitaker
Caroline Bliss - Miss Moneypenny
Robert Brown - M
Maryam d'Abo - Kara
Timothy Dalton - James Bond
Jeroen Krabbe - General Georgi Koskov
Desmond Llewellyn - Q
John Rhys-Davies - General Pushkin
John Terry - Felix Leiter
John Glen - Director
The Living Daylights has been released on DVD in a few different versions. I have the two disc version that is part of the Ultimate James Bond DVD collection. I got the collections in the four volume sets that each contained five Bond movies, otherwise I probably would not have picked up this one. There are several extras in this edition, with most of them being on the second DVD. There are commentaries with the director and members of the cast and crew that I haven't watched.
Deleted Scenes With Introduction by Director John Glen have two deleted scenes, the second of which is just a slightly different version of a scene in the finished movie. Happy Anniversary 007 is a special made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie series. It is hosted by Roger Moore and he turns up in a few different settings talking, but he doesn't share anything really interesting. This was really just a long compilation of clips from the movies and I found it to be very boring. The last few minutes do deal with The Living Daylights and Timothy Dalton taking over as Bond. Roger Moore is not shown during that part. Silver Anniversary Featurettes are four very short bits that focus on a few things without sharing many details.
Timothy Dalton: The New James Bond Vienna Press Conference shares some footage from the press conference that announced that Dalton was the new Bond. The director, Cubby Broccoli, and other cast members were also included. Timothy Dalton: On Acting has footage that was pulled from an interview with Dalton talking about acting and some of his earlier parts. The footage is edited in such a way that the questions are never heard. Dalton & d'Abo Interviews just show some footage of the two of them talking, mostly about their experience working on the Bond movie. This footage is also edited so that none of the questions are heard and the footage of Dalton looks like it was from the same interview as the one on him talking about acting. Dalton did come across as a bit arrogant at times with what he was saying. The Ice Chase Outtakes: Deleted Footage with Director John Glen Narration just shows some footage that wasn't used in the final movie with the director talking about the scene.
The Interactive Guide into the World of The Living Daylights has icons that will play short clips from the movie. Inside The Living Daylights is a special focused on the making of the movie with some of the cast and crew discussing the movie. A few things about the series in general are also mentioned. The casting for Bond is discussed and a few people that tested are mentioned. It does cover the fact that Pierce Brosnan had the part and then lost it because the network wouldn't let him out of his contract from the show Remington Steele. The part then went to Timothy Dalton who had been offered the part a few times before. Some of the filming is discussed, including some focus on stunts. Dalton does talk about his take on the character and I think he sounds a bit arrogant again like he did in some of the other interviews. Some of the locations are discussed along with the new car.
Ian Fleming: 007's Creator is focused on the life of Ian Fleming, the man who wrote the Bond books. A lot of things I didn't know about him are shared during this special. The books and movies as well as the comic strip version of Bond are mentioned. There are a few clips from some interviews with Fleming before his death. The Living Daylights music video isn't anything special, but it isn't horrible either. I still don't care for the song that much though. The Making of The Living Daylights Video has a few clips of interviews with the band and composer John Barry talking about the song. A tiny bit of the filming of the video is included. The original trailers are also included.
The Living Daylights is a decent Bond movie, but it is far from my favorite of the movies. Dalton is all right in the part, but there is just something about him in the role that I don't care for. Fans of the series should give the movie a chance.
Dr. No ~ From Russia With Love ~ Goldfinger ~ Thunderball ~ You Only Live Twice ~ On Her Majesty's Secret Service ~ Diamonds are Forever ~ Live and Let Die ~ The Man With the Golden Gun ~ The Spy Who Loved Me ~ Moonraker ~ For Your Eyes Only ~ Octopussy ~ A View to a Kill ~ The Living Daylights ~ Licence to Kill ~ Goldeneye ~ Tomorrow Never Dies ~ The World is Not Enough ~ Die Another Day ~ Casino Royale ~ Quantum of Solace ~ James Bond: The Secret Life of 007 ~ Never Say Never Again ~
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