a Russian defector claims that the KGB's new chief has reinstated
the hostile policy of Smiert Spionem (Death to Spies), James
Bond is embroiled in a web of murder and deceit...
the softer approach taken by the ageing deliverer of double
entendres that is Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton couldn't have
been more different. Dalton sought to give Bond a harder edge,
basing his interpretation more closely on the character that
Ian Fleming had written about. This attitude coincided with
an approach that director John Glen had been edging towards
ever since For Your Eyes Only, but which had previously
been hindered by Moore's lighter touch. Together, Dalton and
Glen give us a Bond who, while indisputably still the good
guy, looks as though he is capable of killing when necessary
(witness Bond's murderous expression after his fellow agent
is killed at the fun fair). Bond's return to cigarettes (Moore
had favoured cigars) and references to Smiert Spionem (i.e.
SMERSH) also echo Fleming's novels.
heroes need to change with the times, so the production team
stop short of resurrecting Fleming's 1950s creation wholesale.
Bond's notorious bed-hopping and misogyny are played down
- after the pre-credits sequence, he is intimate with only
one woman, Kara (Maryam d'Abo). Critics have poured scorn
on the notion of a "politically correct" Bond but, to be frank,
a woman-hating "hero" was simply not palatable in 1987, any
more than it is in 2001. In fact, 007's monogamy helps to
strengthen the plot by creating a real sense of emotional
attachment between hero and heroine. And it's not as though
Bond has suddenly gone all soft on us, is it? He remains an
extremely rough diamond, whose friendly patting of Moneypenny's
backside would be grounds for a sexual harassment tribunal
in any real-life workplace! Unfortunately, d'Abo is not given
a particularly strong role as Kara, who comes across as rather
feeble and helpless. However, she remains one of the loveliest
actresses ever to have played a Bond girl. She and Dalton
ooze sexuality during their love scenes, even though Dalton
is briefly let down by scriptwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael
G Wilson, and has to deliver the horrendous line, "Are you
calling me a horse's arse?" Whoa!
Living Daylights has also been criticised for its lack
of a powerful central villain. I prefer to regard the use
of a villainous duo as a strength, being more original than
the standard Bond movie template. Jeroen Krabbé is delightfully
eccentric as defector Koskov, who is not immediately revealed
to be a bad guy, while Joe Don Baker is suitably unhinged
as the war-obsessed arms dealer Brad Whitaker.
two principal ingredients make this movie. One of these is
Dalton, and the other is the music - not the insipid title
song by A-ha, but John Barry's final Bond score to date. Barry's
action themes, featuring a pulse-pounding, dance-style beat,
accentuate the numerous stunt sequences and visceral fight
scenes to perfection.
DVD's extras include a lengthy deleted scene in which Bond
escapes from his pursuers on a "magic carpet". Both the music
video and the making of the music video to A-ha's title song
are included (should you ever wish to hear that again). Curiously,
the pop video that accompanied the chart release of The Pretenders'
end title song, If There Was A Man, is absent. However,
we do get to see Sam Neill's screen test for the role of Bond,
and learn just how close Pierce Brosnan came to playing 007
back in 1986.
let's not dwell on what might have been (such as at least
four more Dalton films) and instead enjoy the goodies that
have made it onto this disc. You'd be a horse's arse to miss