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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

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

Long running series, whether on television or in the movies, have to be careful or they'll soon be running strictly on autopilot. So it appears to have happened to the fifteenth episode of the James Bond saga, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS.

This 1987 version has Timothy Dalton in his first of only two attempts to play superspy James Bond. Although he has the suave Bond look down pat, Dalton is missing some key ingredients. Bond always has a sense of humor and seems, no matter how successful, to be somehow vulnerable. Dalton doesn't crack a smile or ever seem to be in danger. That women want to jump in bed with him is completely convincing, but the rest of his character has a hollowness to it that makes him rarely credible or interesting.

Bond films are always travelogues in disguise. This one goes from Old World Czechoslovakia to the beautiful and romantic Vienna. Then it's on to colorful Tangiers. And finally we travel to the remote and war-savaged Afghanistan. Cinematographer Alec Mills makes them all look inviting with the sand-swept desert being the most attractive.

Jeroen Krabbe, who did such a fine job last year in LORCA, plays General Georgi Koskov, a Russian defector and double-dealer with a winsome smile, who is whisked away from the Russians by 007.

We learn that Bond does have his limits. He won't kill a gorgeous blonde sniper and cellist, claiming it's just because she is an amateur. Maryam d'Abo, resembling a young Nastassja Kinski, is Kara Milovy, the cellist and Bond's love interest in the film.

Brad Whitaker, an arms dealer in cahoots with Koskov, is played for broad parody by Joe Don Baker. Since he's the only funny part in an all too serious Bond rendition, the story would have been better served if he had been given more screen time.

The complicated plot involves opium, high tech weapons trafficking, diamond smuggling, and the assassination of all British spies. The story is too choppy and just meanders from one locale to another without bringing the parts together into a compelling whole. There are a few nice chase scenes, as when Bond gets to play with the wide array of lethal toys in his Aston Martin, while being chased by a convoy of soldiers.

The movie is at its most imaginative when James and Kara escape from a falling plane, not with parachutes but in a jeep! Director John Glen even manages to stage this ridiculous scene in a semi-plausible fashion.

Arguably the high point of the film is the display of Q's latest gadgets, the best being a ghetto blaster that lives up to its name.

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS runs too long at 2:10. It is rated PG for brief male and female nudity and violence and would be fine for kids around 9 or 10 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 9, thought the movie was just "okay." He found the blood and the live heart live in a box gross. His overall complaint was that the story was "all pretty much just about Bond trying to kill just this one guy."

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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