Film of the Week: The Living Daylights (1987)

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John Glen directs Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo and Jeroen Krabbe in this near perfect Bond adventure.

The EON Bond machine calibrates a perfect espionage adventure and exotic romance to launch their new 80s Bond. Dalton brings a contained anger and gentlemanly seductivness missing from previous incarnations. A meaningful glance here, a subtler line reading there, he bulks up the husk of 007 with his superior acting talent. And he is given proper Fleming Bond activities to perform; sniper stand offs, jail escapes, fraught border crossings… we are dangerously close to novel Bond perfection in the smaller action beats. Only the occasional hangover from some Roger Moore intended japes still left in the script chafe with his refreshingly terse take on the superior super spy. The big set pieces are uniquely great – especially the snowbound mountain chase to the Austrian border and a brilliant fight on a wayward net hanging out the back of a cargo plane set to go boom. A satisfying amount of villians keep the plot chugging along but really it is Dalton’s actual romancing of d’Abo’s sweet Bond girl that give the stiller moments their strong core. A script that focussed as much on the kiss, kiss as the bang, bang is a welcome return to Bond’s cinematic roots. The Living Daylights joins From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and later Casino Royale (all brilliant entries too) as a Bond that tugs the heart strings as much as quicken the pulse. The final act involving James teaming up with the Taliban creates some unintended humour for modern eyes, but all in all in this is a class affair through and through. A top end, epic slice of blockbuster cinema.

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