Thursday Night Movie Club
The Living Daylights
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Release Date: 31 July 1987

Director: John Glen
Timothy Dalton
Maryam d'Abo
Jeroen Krabbé
Joe Don Baker
John Rhys-Davies
Art Malik
Andreas Wisniewski
Thomas Wheatley
Desmond Llewelyn
Robert Brown
Geoffrey Keen
Walter Gotell
Caroline Bliss
John Terry
Virginia Hey
James Bond
Kara Milovy
General Georgi Koskov
Brad Whitaker
General Leonid Pushkin
Kamran Shah
Minister of Defence
General Anatol Gogol
Miss Moneypenny
Felix Leiter
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Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living DaylightsThe Living Daylights ushers in a new era for the James Bond franchise... and it's about time!

MI6 is engaged in a training exercize. Three "00" agents are assigned to penetrate the radar installation on Gibralter. When one of the "00" agents is murdered. James Bond springs into action. Without saying a single word throughout the entire opening chase sequence, Timothy Dalton is, without a doubt, James Bond 007. He looks and plays the part from the onset. Dalton merges into Bond and the immediate reaction is that Dalton was meant to be James Bond. Better still is Dalton's first line as 007. "I'll report in an hour... better make that two!" Happy days are here again.

The main story of The Living Daylights involves the defection of General Georgi Koskov out of Czechoslovakia. Koskov has specifically asked for James Bond to protect him from Soviet snipers. Bond's "intinct" automatically raises a red flag. "Why me?" That is a very good question. The defection is a success but Bond disobeys his orders and does not kill the female sniper. Bond suddenly faces two questions. More questions arise after Koskov is snatched from the British authorities before he can make a full briefing. What is really going on?

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living DaylightsBond is ordered to eliminate General Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies). Once again disobeying his orders, Bond takes a side trip to Czechoslovakia to interrogate the sniper. Miss Moneypenny (Caroline Bliss) has identified the sniper as cellist Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo), who is recovering from an "accident" she received while performing. Is there more to her than meets the eye. The questions keep piling up for 007.

The trail takes Bond to Tangiers where Puskin is scheduled to make a speech. Bond's path crosses with CIA agent Felix Leiter (John Terry). Leiter is keeping an eye on Pushkin and American arms dealer and patron of the arts Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker). Whitaker is putting together a sale of high-tech arms for Puskin but he hasn't placed any orders. How do Kara Milovy and Koskov fit into the picture? Answers only lead to more questions.

Mainly written for the possible return of Roger Moore, several key scenes were rewritten especially for Timothy Dalton's reading of James Bond. Auric Goldfinger is still credited for saying the best line in a James Bond film. In The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton is given not one but two of the best lines ever spoken by Agent 007. "Stuff my orders. I only kill professionals. If he fires me, I'll thank him for it!" Roger Moore's Bond would never have thought to say this.

John Rhys-Davies and Timothy Dalton in The Living DaylightsMidway through the film, Bond is ready to complete his mission and assassinate KGB director General Pushkin. Bond asks, "Two of our agents are dead. Koskov has named you. Why should I disobey my orders?" Pushkin replies, "I am in the dark as much as you. If it is a matter of trust, who do you believe, Koskov or me?" Bond cocks his PPK, carefully aims it at Pushkin's head and sternly replies, "If I trusted Koskov, we wouldn't be talking!" Marvelous! For anyone not paying attention, if Bond were following his orders, he would have killed Pushkin the instant Bond walked in the door. The biplay between the two great actors is fantastic and is the defining moment of the film.

These are only two examples of the brave new world that is Timothy Dalton's James Bond. From the opening frame, Dalton makes it plain that he is James Bond. He never lets up on the intensity. The tagline for The Living Daylights is "This Bond is dangerous!" Dalton is dangerous. More so than even Sean Connery, Dalton has the personae of a man who can and will kill in cold blood if necessary. In addition, Bond is at constant odds with M which is much closer to the interaction between Bond and M in Ian Fleming's novels. Bond follows orders up to the point where Bond is alone in the field. At that point, Bond is on his own. It is his decision alone whether he pulls the trigger or not. The James Bond franchise never had the guts to explore these aspects of James Bond's character. With Timothy Dalton as Bond, the screenwriters have no choice but to customize the story for Dalton's reading of Bond. The result is refreshing, unexpected (but yearned for), and surprising.

With Timothy Dalton on board, screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson have pushed the envelope. They have turned Bond into a real, human person, not a cartoonish secret agent. Bond goes his own way. He makes his own decisions. If Bond had simply followed orders and killed Kara Milovy, the chances are good that Whitaker's sinister plot would have succeeded.

Timothy Dalton and Desmond Llewelyn in The Living DaylightsThe screenwriters have also gone into uncharted territory on another aspect of Bond. Bond is still his frivolous self when he meets with Q (Desmond Llewelyn). Only this time, Bond does the unthinkable. He actually shows respect for Q. Q hands Bond a key-ring finder. Bond takes one look and replies, "Surprise me!" Q does. The two form a new bond that continues for the next several films in the series. Q is giddy as a school boy when he demonstrates a new gadget: it is a large radio equipped with missiles that he is building for the Americans. "It's called a ghetto blaster." Wildly funny! Desmond Llewelyn has never been better playing Q. He finally has some good dialog rather than just the butt of Bond's jokes.

Director John Glen takes the series in a new direction. Timothy Dalton is a classically trained actor. Glen populates The Living Daylights with A-List actors. Robert Brown if fully entrenched in the role of M. Brown shows a level of sarcasm towards Bond that was never depicted before. He is a stern boss who expects his agents to follow orders. M develops a trademark of his own that is reused in later films, "I'll recall 008 from Hong Kong. He follows orders."

Timothy Dalton and Maryam d'Abo in The Living DaylightsMaryam d'Abo is a great addition to the growing list of Bond girls. d'Abo may not be the most seasoned actress but she is very good in depicting the various levels and emotions of Kara Milovy. Milovy is a trusting woman who is used by her boyfriend Georgi Koskov into believing Whitaker will help her defect. She may even play at Carnegie Hall. She is distrustful of Bond but has no choice but to follow his lead. Bond uses Milovy to track down Koskov. All of the men in her life have lied to her. Only when Bond confronts her with the truth, that he was the man sent to kill her in Czechoslovakia, does she realize what is really going on between her and Koskov. Kara Milovy is a complex character and Maryam d'Abo pulls this off very well.

John Rhys-Davies is an excellent choice to portray General Pushkin. As the head of the KGB, he is fully aware of James Bond's talents. He is conflicted over Bond's involvement. Is Bond a friend or ally? Is Bond's mission to interrupt Pushkin's arms deal? More questions. Pushkin's best line is somewhat muffled unfortunately. After he and Bond orchestrate a false assassination of Pushking, he replies to his mistress, "That is the first time I have been grateful that James Bond is a good shot!" Absolutely fantastic dialog.

James Bond's new Aston MartinThere are several action sequences in The Living Daylights. John Glen makes each sequence seem fresh and new. The attack on Gibralter, the Aston Martin car chase in Czechoslovakia, Bond and Milovy's escape from a Soviet air base in Afghanistan, and the final action sequence involving a large cargo plane are all spectacular, show-stopping, must-see scenes.

With the arrival of Timothy Dalton, the jokes, so prevalent in Roger Moore's Bond films, are kept to a minimum. The tire-shredder gadget used in Goldfinger has been replaced with a laser. After a chasing police car is split into two pieces, Bond casually replies, "Salt corrosion." When he turns on a heads-up display on the front wind screen, Dalton's Bond straightforwardly tells Milovy, "I've had some optional extras installed." Moore would have played this for the full comic effect. Another of Dalton's best lines comes when Bond and Milovy deciding whether to purchase a very expensive dress for her to wear to the opera. Milovy asks, "Who will pay for this?" Bond replies, "Georgi will pay." The line has a doule meaning. Koskov will pay the price for his deeds.

The Living Daylights ushers in a new era for James Bond. Timothy Dalton humanizes Bond. This version of James Bond is deadly serious and more believably dangerous than any Bond the world has seen. James Bond will be back! The possibilities are endless! Bond 16 cannot come soon enough. 'Til then, enjoy The Living Daylights over and over.