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The Living Daylights

Plenty of old, not much blue, and for official release #15, Bond is new.

While not as sly as Roger Moore and not as suave as Sean Connery – who each starred in seven Bond films – the slightly dour Timothy Dalton is nonetheless dashing and debonair as the new 007. This dynamite-paced adventure pairs the sexy spy with a beautiful Bratislav blonde virtuoso, a lovely but rather apathetic Maryam d’Abo. Her unique advantage: she’s a cello player-cum-amateur assassin. Together, they fight Communists, greed, evil, and a long list of foes not to Her Majesty’s Secret Service liking. As a much younger James Bond, Dalton is intense, but not nearly as charming as his predecessors. Yet he is still equipped with limitless tuxedos and daring – both, definitely necessary. The plot is thin; but by 1987, with multiple Star Trek and Star Wars releases and special effects ruling the box office, who goes to see these for plot anyway? Diamonds, double-agents (a delightful John Rhys-Davies), and top-secret double-talk abound. Even more dated, 007 still smokes! And equally death defying: James Bond disregards a direct order.

Looking back, the story, for the most part, is sadly timeless. It seems Bond’s alluring ally and a tremendous shipment of raw opium — estimated to be worth half a billion dollars on the streets then, just imagine what it would command today! — have both fallen into the hands of a group of sinister smugglers. Sent to Morocco to intercept the stash and save his easily deceived damsel in distress, Dalton lives up to his role via the traditional wit, weapons, and sheer luck.

A pre-technology thriller, Daylights showcases a scenic Austria and focuses on the ever-risqué realm of money, mystery and mayhem. And after a quarter century, some real-world elements remain today: war in Afghanistan, out-of-control rebel forces, a bustling, global opium operation, and most prevalent: the booming illegal arms trade. What’s different: no more Czechoslovakia. Also a novelty: dangerous, covert defections by a KGB leader (a superb and engaging Jeroen Krabbé). He, along with multiple international forces, is hustled and smiled at by an extremely entertaining American arms dealer: Joe Don Baker, who goes on to star in two future Bond outings.

Like two previous Bond films: Daylights features an observant, colorful ?toucan; this too, is soon replaced by high-tech gadgetry. The fights and special effects appear quaint, but are captivating and non-stop. And reliably, they help this new James Bond leave one pleasantly shaken, though not stirred.

by Caren Ostrow

Timothy Dalton James Bond
Maryam d’Abo Kara Milovy
Jeroen Krabbé General Georgi Koskov

Director: John Glen

Next up in the ‘James Bond Originals’ series at The Colony: License to Kill.