The Living Daylights (1987)
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Lean, plausible, and full of action. Dalton is a great Bond and it's a shame his two films have not received more acclaim, as his work in this and Licence To Kill blow anything by Roger Moore out of the water, and not from gritty realism being 'en vogue': this is tightly edited and punchy. Though the gallery of villains doesn't strictly impress, the amount of firepower and an involving plot does. I dig it.
I was very curious to revisit (revisit? had I even seen it in the first place?) The Living Daylights now that Dalton is a well-known and cherished actor. His Bond is certainly the most sympathetic of them all, and certainly the first since Lazenby to be offered an actual romance (as opposed to a disposable fling). I also spy shades of Daniel Craig's Bond in him, as a jaded killer who seeks to hide from his inner turmoil through sex, drink and thrills (i.e. more like Fleming's Bond). While there are still elements of Moore's Bond hampering the script - silly cartoon comedy like the chase on the ice field and gags whenever Q is around - the story is more solid than most and progresses logically from one set piece to the other which really WASN'T something the late Moore era was any good at. And instead of sticking to boring old San Francisco and Paris, as the previous film tiredly had, the canvas really is international. That's great, no matter how strange the boisterous Afghanistan scenes might seem today. John Rhys-Davies is excellent as Gogol's edgy but sympathetic replacement, and Myriam D'Abo makes a good Bond girl, as willful as she is beautiful, and more than capable of getting in on the action. The focus on spy games doesn't exactly spell out high stakes, which makes the experience less-than-exciting at times, but I'd rather have a little more John Le Carré in my Bond than have it turn into an action-comedy. It's far from perfect, mind you. The new Miss Moneypenny is TERRIBLE - with the original, you had the sense that SHE wasn't giving in to James' advances; here she's a fawning nerd and HE'S withholding; that's a step back - and the ending is badly paced, with an overlong pre-climax and a tacked-on climax between foes who have never met, resolved rather disappointingly.
Very entertaining Bond adventure with the usual action, thrills and excitement. Dalton in his debut is very good as the new James Bond and brings some fresh air in the series!
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