Review: The Living Daylights (1987)

15 - The Living Daylights (1987)

“Smiert Spionum? Was a Beria operation, in Stalin’s time. It was deactivated twenty years ago.”
– Leonid Pushkin

General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) is a defecting KGB officer. Secret Agent James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is assigned to him, though he is still working out the assassination of a fellow 00 officer on a training expedition. While Bond is to pick up Koskov at a concert hall in Bratislavia, Bond sees that the female cellist is the KGB assigned sniper that is to prevent Koskov’s defection. Bond does not kill her, though it is against his orders and he gives her a fright. Bond recovers Koskov and has him sent to Britain for hiding.

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“Just taking the Aston out for a spin, Q.” – James Bond

Bond reconvenes with M (Robert Brown) and associates in Britain, where Koskov spills the beans on a KGB plan of Death to Spies (Smiert Spionam). According to Koskov, General Leonid Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) has enforced the old policy, and Bond refuses to believe the new head of KGB would start with such a drastic measure. He is issued with orders by M to assassinate Pushkin, which he grudgingly accepts. They cannot have tension run rampant between the West and the Soviet Union. Shortly after Bond leaves, Koskov is kidnapped by KGB operatives.

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“If I trusted Koskov we wouldn’t be talking. But as long as you’re alive, we’ll never know what he’s up to.” – James Bond

Bond approaches Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), the cellist and attempted assassin on Koskov. From here he garners that there was not one iota of truth in Koskov’s claims and that he defection was all fake. Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend, not a real sniper. Bond uses the guise of a friend of Koskov sent to fetch her to get her to assist him in his mission, though she naturally does not know this. Bond figures out that Koskov is actually working with Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker), an American arms dealer. Bond and Milovy head for Tangier to confront Pushkin, and it is established that Pushkin has nothing to do whatsoever with what is going on. Koskov is actually being sought by his own government for embezzling government funds. In an elaborate scheme, Bond and Pushkin work together to fake Pushkin’s death to see what Koskov’s greater plan is.

Betraying Bond due to a false claim from Koskov, Milovy spikes Bond’s drinks. He comes to, and she realizes that she has made a mistake and trusted the wrong man. They are flown to Afghanistan, and Milovy, too, is imprisoned with Bond. However, the pair escape and free another prisoner, Kamram Shah (Art Malik), who is an instrumental ally to have seeing as he is the leader of the local Majuhideen. Bond uncovers the truth behind Koskov – he is using Soviet funding to purchase opium from the Majuhideen. He will sell it and keep the profits, but use money to buy arms for the Soviets.

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“Thank you both for your help. My name is Kamran Shah. Please forgive the theatricals, it’s a hangover from my Oxford days.”

Bond needs to find a way to prevent Koskov from getting the opium out there and getting it sold. He needs to prevent this man from getting back into the good graces of the Soviets and start a massive war while raking in plenty of profit. Will Bond be able to foil the plan in time? Will a war truly break out between the sides? What will Milovy do now that she has been betrayed by the man she loved?

An 8/10 for The Living Daylights. This is what I have been waiting for! So long I have been waiting, and I was finally rewarded. Timothy Dalton is a fantastic Bond, and I was completely sold on having a grittier and raw Bond. Out with all the lame that Moore brought to the table and in with a more serious and realistic role! The story line was also much better, not the stock standard world domination thing, and the camera work was nice. I liked the dialogue and a lack of a million girls just buckling at the knees because a guy with a tux waltzes past. Dalton was a far more driven Bond, with more focus on the spy thriller side of things versus too much comedy and light-hearted puns. A lot of the cast has been changed for The Living Daylights, but it seemed to work. Lois Maxwell has been replaced, and it was rather sad to see her go, I was rather attached to her. I enjoyed Q and Bond having a more functional understanding in this one, not that whole “give me expensive equipment to wreck” thing, and Q lamenting that. Overall, one of the most enjoyable Bond films that I have seen so far.

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14 thoughts on “Review: The Living Daylights (1987)

  1. coolone160 says:

    Only Timothy Dalton comes close to Daniel Craig as a serious/rebellious Bond.All the previous Bonds(except Sean Connery) had superficial airs.”License To Kill” is a pleasure to watch as Dalton gives one of his best performance…………………..

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  2. ruth says:

    YES, YES, YES!!! I knew I like you Zoe 😉 Dalton is my all time favorite Bond so naturally I’m glad to read you think of him as a fantastic Bond, yay! He’s definitely a grittier, more driven Bond but also VERY easy on the eyes. When he first came out in a tux at the concert I was like YOWZA!!! 😉

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    • Zoë says:

      😀 definitely as favourite of mine, too, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. He is a great actor, and finally gave Bond some spine. Can’t wait to see some more!

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      • ruth says:

        Unfortunately he’s only done TWO Bond films. It’s really a travesty! He was contracted to do three but MGM got involved in a lengthy legal battle for 5 years so when his contract expired he decided to move on 😦 Of course the media made it sound like he was fired but it made no sense as the special features of both his Bond films all revealed how much the crew and producers LOVED Dalton. He’s the ultimate professional and he’s simply THE Bond they all believed in! In any case, do see Licence To Kill pronto, he’s even more bad ass in that one though the film’s production quality is a bit lacking for financial & other reasons.

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      • Zoë says:

        It breaks my heart that he only did two. He is phenomenal. Ahhh, you know how people love rumours… Really wish he had done more, though ;( I will get onto it as soon as possible!

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