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The Living Daylights

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Living Daylights

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam D'Abo
Director: John Glen
Rated: PG
RunTime: 131 Minutes
Release Date: July 1987
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Jeroen Krabbe, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies, Art Malik, Andreas Wisniewski, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Geoffrey Keen

Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

This movie, the fifteenth in the James Bond series, is one of two Bond movies from the 80's to star Timothy Dalton as 007. It's a radical departure from the carefree Roger Moore efforts. For starters, Dalton is young enough to be Moore's son. How old was Moore in A VIEW TO A KILL, about 63? The Bond regulars were all starting to show their age in that movie. They might as well have changed Miss Moneypenny's name to Miss Menopause. But here, in addition to the new Bond, we see a new Moneypenny, played by Caroline Bliss--a name worthy of a Bond girl.

Dalton isn't my favorite Bond (or even my third-favorite), ranking just above George Lazenby from ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, but we all know by this point that who played Bond wasn't nearly as important as the well-oiled formula itself--the chases, explosions, beautiful women, high-tech gadgets, etc. Unfortunately, the formula is more or less thrown out the window here in favor of the gritty 80's drug story. They might as well have called it M VICE.

Bond in this movie has to find out what happened to KGB defector Koskov, who turns out to be a compulsive liar. His girlfriend (played by Maryam D'Abo, the sister of the sister from "The Wonder Years"), a cellist for the Russian orchestra, thinks she's helping him by posing as a sniper, but she ends up being shot at by Bond, who later reconciles with her in his usual manner.

Throw in a naughty milkman/killer ("I'm taking you in for a deposit.") and an obsessive military general (played by my first semester college roommate) who has a giant war room in his exotic mansion showcasing miniature recreations of great battles through history and you've got the usual larger-than-life Bond villains without the usual Bond formula.

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS is more a cold war/drug runner 80's movie than a genuine Bond movie. It almost works on that level except for the fact that it's the slowest-moving Bond picture ever, with two climactic battles that aren't that thrilling. Sure, there are a couple good chases in the Connery/Moore tradition, including one where Dalton and D'Abo are riding a bullet-proof cello sled down a snow- covered hill, but take away the token appearances by M, Q and Moneypenny and it's just another sub-par 80's action movie.

LICENCE TO KILL, the other Dalton Bond movie, didn't resemble the traditional Bond movie, but it at least had a compelling plot and some blockbuster action scenes. But when you've got an uneven generic movie like this, it might as well be TANGO & CASH.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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