Review: The Living Daylights (1987)

Director: John Glen

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam D’abo, John Rhys Davies

Release Date: June 27th 1987 (UK)

We are nearly there. Nearly at the start of my favourite Bond actor’s tenure. He almost got the role in 1986 for this and would have if NBC hadn’t been evil little turds and exercised their option to force Brosnan to return to the role of Remington Steele 30 days after the series was cancelled. Instead, we get the new Bond number 4, Timothy Dalton, in my opinion a massively under rated Bond who I feel more than any of the others, captured the spirit of the character on Fleming’s pages.

What we get is instead of the most well, Roger Moore Bond out there, we get by far the most serious Bond. He is a good breath of fresh air in that respect yes, but James Bond on film needs to be able to deliver the humour of the character. Whenever Dalton attempts this, judging by the deleted scenes from this and his next film Licence To Kill (1989), the editors and director John Glen decided to showcase only the takes where he seems at his most uncomfortable delivering his lines. Although in the scene where he decides to buy Maryam D’abo the blue dress, he seems to be channelling John Wayne Gacey through and through, so perhaps this was a decision for the best.

Maryam D’abo has the unenviable task of performing as a Bond girl unlike all those who came before and also keeping it believable that Bond would only have relations in this films with her. Well, and the lady at the start who defines a Jeep flying off of Gibraltar with a man parachuting out the back and subsequently exploding as an example of how boring her life is. It is a fairly large task to be sure and to be honest, it is believable how Bond is not as enamoured with her as he usually is with Bond girls. But that is somewhat a good choice, after all he is with her mainly to get to Yuri Koskov (Jerome Kraabe) and she is not exactly over burdened with smart outside of playing her Stradavarious. One example will be when at the film’s climax, Bond looks like he is mouthing the words ‘fucking hell’ when he has to keep explaining to her how to drive a Jeep into a large plane with its cargo hatch open. Let us praise the pair for this.

The villain Brad Whitaker, unfortunately while portrayed by a perfectly fine actor, is not that memorable at all and quite frankly, his henchman Necros (Andreas Winiewski) is the only one who leaves an impression by strangling his enemies with the headphones for his Walkman. Unfortunately this means the overall quality of the film is let down somewhat and would be unlikely to make you want to re visit the film too often unless you are a fan of Dalton, D’abo or for some reason, director John Glen.

The film could also be described as one cleaved neatly in two, the first half and the half of the film set in Tangiers and Afghanistan. The first, which actually faithfully adapts the short story The Living Daylights and does so very faithfully, is an exciting and intense thriller. The second? Not so much. It feels like a whole different movie, one significantly less interesting than the first and again, will probably also mean you do not pick it up for a watch too often.

That is a bit unlike the next in our series, a film I feel is a bit unfairly maligned because it didn’t take much at the Box Office despite being release to intense competition from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman, not to mention its own troubled production, 1989’s Licence To Kill.


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