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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
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