Bond in Review: The Living Daylights

I really like the James Bond franchise. This is part sixteen of a behind schedule, bimonthly, 24-part series of me watching James Bond movies and providing a stream of consciousness style commentary for a given film. I will also rank the movies so stay tuned for that at the bottom of the piece. Moore has left the franchise and we get a new Bond with an entirely new approach to the character: back to the novel. Timothy Dalton brought grit, nastiness, and going rogue before it was popular, and the relative lack of success showed. The Living Daylights is also a full embrace of 80s action movies with violence high and seriousness a bit higher too. I encourage everyone to enjoy Dalton’s appearance in the “Everything or Nothing” documentary to discuss his motivations. The movie borrows its title from the short story which is essentially the first part of the movie up to the defections. The original short story series, Octopussy and the Living Daylights, was published posthumously in 1966.

· Fresh new United Artists logo.

· I like the Dalton gun barrel. It is smooth, clean legs, turn and fire. I sorta wish the gun barrel wasn’t here as the Dalton reveal in the pre-title scene is so good

· Safety first as they strap in M for the end of his speech on infiltrating Gibraltar

· M is not a dummy. He is legitimately smart. Why does he have a wood paneled full on desk in the back of a aircraft? Also, his desk is full on decorated like he is using this all the time.

· Papers flying everywhere but the hat is stable

· The agents skydiving is a beautiful shot. Just that opening. Fantastic.

· The concept of this war game exercise to train the 00-agents is also great to see

· Look at the way Dalton looks when he turns his head! He looks like the absolute business here.

· They couldn’t really control those monkeys which was a feature of the shooting location

· Dalton also does many of his own stunts which is fantastic.

· This chase fight is great — how many times do you have folks coming in via the top of the car? Not many!

· Dalton headbutt! We’ve left the slappers behind!

· Why didn’t she just bring Margo with her?

· Dalton throwing away the “Bond, James Bond” is such a refreshing deal — he just saw his colleagues die and has no time to mess about….except for some fun on the yacht.

· A-ha — “The Living Daylights”

· Title song and title sequence are not memorable in any way.

· Should’ve gone with The Pretenders since their music is all over the movie. The song Necros is listening to all movie is “Where Has Everybody Gone?”

· Post-title sequence is the short story. A very enjoyable story too.

· I know we aren’t supposed to like Saunders because he is a stiff bureaucrat but if we were in this world, we would all be Saunders’ and we would be irritated to work with Bond.

· He does pay attention to the Kara somewhat randomly

· The franchise is stuck between traditional Bondisms (intimate relations with women) and Dalton who wants to be about the business all the time

· The tuxedo into all black shooting attire is fantastic.

· Section 26, paragraph 5. Need to know basis, old man. Yeah, Saunders lays it on a bit too thick here

· Bond using the shooting glove — small but real touch

· Small detail but I didn’t like them going back to the shot of Kara. It makes it seem like she is significant (she is) but the surprise in a bit is slightly undercut

· Oh they get Dalton’s pupils adjusting which is great. (I like this movie a lot and I love this scene a lot)

· Walther makes this gun Bond is shooting (Walther WA 2000) and will be updating all sorts of guns going into the 90s.

· Saunders needs to shut the hell up as he is shooting. But now Koskov is waiting for him to open the door. Useless.

· Bond is nothing but work here: doesn’t have time for Saunders and doesn’t have time for Koskov celebrating. This is one of my favorite Bond moments

· “I rather not talk about it.” YES!

· Dalton does have humorous moments but its about looks and how he says things: “You’re the first” Is a good example.

· Rosika Miklos!!! Have some decorum.

· How the pipeline handles that 90 degree turn is a mystery.

· Saunders, for his mess, did get rid of the gun and met at the designated area.

· Look at Q working those stairs! Underrated.

· Let’s take a second and discuss the harrier jet. It can take off from standing still. That’s a real thing. I am forever amazed by the harrier technology and get stuck in a Youtube rabbit hole because of this movie.

· Bond not caring about M firing him or his orders is straight out the books. Bond was good at his job but wasn’t the happiest guy about doing it. About taking life. Dalton captures that well.

· Moneypenny/Bond interaction is just forced in here and is an afterthought

· Look racial humor: a ghetto blaster! (thought the quip about it being for the Americans is amusing)

· Tasteless thing that was clearly added in postproduction: after Bond puts Moneypenny’s glasses on you see an arm move and two pats. The suggestion is he is patting her butt. But times are slowly changing so we don’t see it. Eh, it’s a notable thing though if you pay attention

· Milkman…globalization kills a ton of jobs

· The Necros’ glasses are a charming touch to his running attire

· Bond is taking liberties with the mission and the choice of champagne. Rogue!

· The plot of the movie is more sophisticated than other Bond movies. Pushkin narrative presented by Koskov really sets a good first trail.

· Look at that parrot. This movie is directed by John Glen and he always has some animal startling something else — usually a bird. Loves some animals just hanging around.

· This fight between the security butler person and Necros is brutal. Security person really holds his own for a good while

· The milk bombs are pretty awesome.

· Koskov is so convincing a defector

· Not sure why they bother with the Minister of Defense storyline. He is just there as a useless character. Maybe some context from the 80s I don’t appreciate.

· “We are just winterizing this.” Well played, Q.

· This key chain gadget is pretty fantastic.

· I imagine Q is always pulling gags on his staff. That couch is something used in magic tricks all the tie. The concept at least

· Dalton is a really good Bond.

· Folks need to mind their business in the bathroom

· Bond is putting on some nice spy work here to figure out what is happening and who the players are to this story.

· Dalton slamming that cello in the back felt like some real animosity.

· Not a fan of Kara being so naïve or ignorant that all this odd stuff was easily explained away but I guess it’s a sign of the times. “Salt corrosion.”

· Oh no the back end of that roadblock was NOT ready

· If you can’t guess, I am a fan of this Aston Martin a lot.

· Bond — always rewriting history with his cello mansplaining. That said, its preposterous they went back for the cello

· Cello sledding…lets just move on

· Whitaker is doing the most here but it seems like he would actually be engaged in all of this. In other Bond movies, he would be the big baddie and he seems like a midtier baddie in a world of confused folks. It works.

· Looks like a massive Sharper Image store in his military room

· Ok so this is a crucial plot point too: Russians want weapons but Whitaker hasn’t used the money yet to buy them. Also wondering where Koskov is. Ok!

· Bond really is stepping up the charm and it is uncomfortable because Kara is really into Koskov.

· Bond has MI6 really out here being the ticket agency for his dalliances.

· Saunders needs to have a little bit more chill

· That outfit Kara bought at Cartier is certainly a choice. Not a good one in my opinion.

· SO Bond on a date night is a piece of work getting that elephant

· Dalton as a hit with the ladies is not hard to believe on looks but it’s not the easiest in manner

· Bond also just moved in on Koskov’s girlfriend which is rude

· So not to be over the top but that is a terrible way to die. Between a sliding door.

· Bond full of rage is pretty great to see. Dalton really shows it in the eyes. That his entire nature changes from softy to cold killer is true to form.

· Bond just can’t help but support the local talent getting in his way

· Another small/larger detail: the difference between Pushkin’s wife and his mistress as something to exploit

· This scene is also terrific because it’s been a while (since Connery) when we’ve seen cold hearted Bond do his job. He is ruthless in this scene. The pistol whipping by themselves is intense.

· In an alternative world, you can imagine Dalton’s Bond absolutely killing someone by having them on their knees and a bullet to the head

· This next scene was so jarring because Bond straight up killed him and, well, you just didn’t see it coming since he was alive recently.

· This chase is a good example of why the actor should have some say in the movie they are acting in. Dalton vetoed a “magic carpet ride” type scene with carpet on wires. Thank goodness he did.

· Should’ve paid for those shades (tie in to the title sequence)

· Why don’t his allies just say “we are from the CIA — no worries mate”?!!?

· John Terry as Felix Leiter SUCKS! Just SUCKS.

· Plot tracker: Whitaker is looking to move some diamonds. That’s pretty sudden

· Bond drugged and subsequently taken with Koslov — so far this movie is money in the bank. Plot changes and tricks and moves and misdirection.

· And this movie helped me identify a human heart from an animal’s heart.

· Koskov is dropping misdirection all over the place — I can see how some people can get a bit lost in what is or isn’t happening

· These guards should be ashamed for not being able to manage a guy who was handcuffed.

· Wet blanket Bond just dismissing the notion that they are “free” in an Afghan soviet jail

· Kara not being good at spying because she isn’t a spy, feels particularly realistic

· Seemingly unrelated prisoner turns out to be key point in the third act.

· This scoring is my favorite in the entire Bond franchise. “Mujahadin and Opium”

· Shah’s character is so interesting to me because of how much it isn’t clear where he is with respect to culture. Apologizing for the “theatrics”

· We got a bit of a peanut gallery here

· Always a good reminder to American audiences that the US was struggling in Afghanistan well before 2001.

· Bond consumes so much raw opium in that one taste. Goodness

· Plot check in: Koskov/Whitaker are crafty business folks who aren’t big baddies — just exploiting weaknesses: war and drugs. Russia pays for weapons. Whitaker doesn’t buy weapons because money is used as a down payment for diamonds. Diamonds are used to buy raw opium to sell. Massive profits to Koskov. Money can be used to actually buy Russians their weapons while Koskov/Whitaker make more money through the opium sale. Whew.

· Hot Take: Shah is a bad leader

· Plot check: Diamonds for opium have been exchanged. Bond hopes to blow up opium to mess up the Koskov/Whitaker plan.

· Bond just spraying bullets with no rhyme or reason. Brosnan would’ve hit at least two things that could’ve exploded

· I wonder what Whitaker is doing amid all this chaos. Maybe making some really bad deals with Americans

· Necros is being particularly unhelpful amid the chaos

· They just realized that they could get on a jeep and be more productive — especially since the jeep has a gun? Terrible.

· Apparently the Afghan runways are miles and miles long!

· This massive aeroplane Bond is driving went from slow enough for Kara to drive in to fast enough to take off that quickly?

· So Koskov was obviously intended to die upon impact but for whatever reason they kept him alive. Not a good decision in my opinion

· How did Bond plan to handle this situation without someone else to fly the plane?!?

· This Necros/Bond fight outside the airplane isn’t the most intense but it feels more realistic because they are flying out the back of an airplane and you can’t really throw punching combos in this circumstance

· Stopping the bomb at two seconds — not common but solid move.

· Bond getting the pun out and realizing some serious trouble is right in front of him is dandy. The big Bond tropes (puns, “Bond, James Bond”) are all undercut in their own special way

· Focused Dalton Bond gets an idea and just wants compliance and movement. It feels super effective.

· I hate Leiter’s voice.

· Another bird startling Bond. I hate John Glen’s ticks

· The strobe light in this room is excessive and absurd.

· Bond is a great shot but he didn’t think to shoot some place other than the head to slow him down?

· This entire room is the military version of Scaramanger’s fun house

· Whitaker’s death was particularly ho-hum.

· Koskov gives Bond a “no hard feelings, I am going to handle my side” look

· She shouldn’t play that cello — just get another one and save that one forever.

· Gogol with a late appearance as his health is deteriorating. Really made me happy to see him

· M seems to never know where Bond is which I guess is not his job but wow…keep up with your agents!

Half of the Dalton run is over and wow, what a movie. I believe this is the most underrated James Bond movie. Period. The story is fresh, Dalton is amazing, and it is a lot of fun. It’s such a stark departure from Roger Moore but a good one. Below are the updated rankings:

1) From Russia With Love

2) Goldfinger

3) OHMSS

4) The Living Daylights

5) The Spy Who Loved Me

6) Live and Let Die

7) Dr. No

8) Octopussy

9) The Man with the Golden Gun

10) A View to a Kill

11) Moonraker

12) For Your Eyes Only

13) YOLT

14) Diamonds Are Forever

15) Thunderball

16) Never Say Never Again

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Allen L. Linton II

Free writing about politics, sports, intersection between the two, and Chicago.