Monday, March 12, 2018

In The Glory Days Of The Cold War Night-Will The Real Bond, James Bond Stand Up –Timothy Dalton’s “The Living Daylights” (1987)-A Film Review

In The Glory Days Of The Cold War Night-Will The Real Bond, James Bond Stand Up –Timothy Dalton’s “The Living Daylights” (1987)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Seth Garth

The Living Daylights, starring Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo, 1987

No question guys like John LeCarre, Tom Clancy and the creator of the Bond, James Bond series Ian Fleming although not all the storylines in the long-running series have had tough sailing since the demise of the arch-villain Soviet Union back in 1991-92. Sure there has been plenty of international dramatic tension possibility since, the “war on terror,” the drug trade, cyber-theft but nothing like those glory days when the smooth as silk and just as deadly good guys wore white hats if only metaphorically and the ham-fisted, can’t shoot straight bad guys wore black, no. red and you had something like the world on the edge with every action-and reaction.

Just look at the difference let us say with a non-descript plot against some holy goof outfit (which also cannot shoot straight) in a post-Soviet demise Bond flick like 2015s Spectre and the action in the film under review, The Living Daylight with late Soviet era-Afghan War as a backdrop. You knew who to root for, or thought you did when the action turned to the Afghan situation later in the story. (That “thought you did” courtesy of the hard fact that those “allies” the mujahedeen turned out to be some nasty Taliban guys when the dust settled later in the beginning of the 21st century).                  

Of course the attentive reader is wondering not so much about plotline as the burning question of the day-who is the real James Bond. Much cyber-ink has been spilled in this space between the lovely Phil Larkin and the pretty boy youngster William Bradley as they have gone into hand to hand combat over whether their respective choices ruggedly handsome Sean Connery for the former and pretty boy Pierce Brosnan for the latter. Here we have another entrant Timothy Dalton who I would while I don’t want to get in an ambush by either partisan does not measure up to their respective choices. Doesn’t portray the rugged individualism of Connery or the charm the pants off you of Brosnan.

But to the story as Sam Lowell always liked us to get to before the reader wondered why he or she spent their precious time reading a film review like this. This is straight up KGB (even those initials today sent shivers up and down the spine thinking about Siberian exiles or being shot in Lybinaka dungeons) versus M-led MI6 and James Bond agent stuff. Seems the bad ass KGB’s new leader is reviving the old policy of death to spies when caught. Meaning some MI6 agents have been wasted forthwith. his though is just a ruse for a corrupt Soviet general “on the take” to whoever will pay the graft in money, dope or armaments to work his plan to make huge profits off the Afghan opium trade and buy arms to supply whoever has the dough and need for such arms.

This Soviet general is really kind of clever, for a while, as he fakes a defection to the West to put the whammy on the new KGB leader who is actually a reformer of sorts maligned by that renegade general. Has the help of his angel-faced girlfriend Kara, played by Maryam d’ Abo (nice name) who also plays a mean classical cello. This is the ruse Timmy, oops, James must breakup at whatever costs. First he has to realize, which he does in short order, that this general’s flight is bogus. Second he has to gain the confidence of Kara to set the trap to grab this bad ass general who is ready to do business with a don’t give a damn American arms dealer who will sell anything from firecrackers to nuclear weapons to whoever has the dough.

Naturally in these thrillers we see the latest in what Q-MI6s master technie has put together, see whatever three hundred actions per minute put Bond (and Kara) in harm’s way across Vienna, the Alps, Tangiers, Afghanistan and who knows where else before that bad ass general and that amoral arms dealer bite the dust. Naturally as well there has to be the little dance between Bond and Kara before they go under the sheets that everybody knows from the minute she shows up on screen is going to happen. Well at least unlike in the past where the women who fall all over whatever Bond is in play are strictly eye candy Kara can play that mean cello too.             

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