Monday, 25 April 2016

The Living Daylights (1987)

"We've nothing to declare!"

Before I go on to praise this splendid film... I may get one last blog post out tomorrow on the train- we will see- but after that there won't be anything more until after my big exam on Tuesday 3rd May. It's a week of hardcore revision for me to look forward to. Still, expect a flurry of new blog posts in the couple of days after the exam, probably.

Anyway, I loved The Living Daylights even if it didn't feel much like a Bond film when watched in context. It's a strange thing to say for a series of spy films, but Bond hadn't done a proper Cold War thriller before and only now, in 1987, the very last opportunity there would ever be, do we get one. And yes, I know we have an American chief baddie as a fig leaf so they can deny that this is a straight ahead Cold War spy film with the Russians as the baddies so as not to offend the real world USSR but, well, they're fooling nobody.

And so we have a tale of defections, crappy police cars, secret police arresting pretty girls in the exotic surroundings of, er, Bratislava, and that classically Cold War locale that is Vienna and a Ferris Wheel that immediately evokes The Third Man. Mind you, nothing has dated quite as much as showing the Afghan Mujahideen as the good guys. I'm no useful idiot, far from it, but Najibullah (not a nice man but no one deserves to die like that) was much better for Afghanistan than what came after.

Timothy Dalton... let's actually mention him, shall we? He's obviously a fine actor, easily the best so far, far more technically competent and nuanced in his portrayal than Connery or Moore. I like him. And yet... he's genuinely charismatic, yes, but less so than either of the two aforementioned, both of whom oozed it, and for me he doesn't quite convince as a ladies' man- well, womaniser. He's too sensitive. Still, a promising debut. 

Maryam d'Abo makes a good, and refreshing Bon-bimboesque, Bond girl, and we get good performances from John Rhys-Davies, Art Malik and the ever-reliable Desmond Llewelyn, in a good film for the gadgets.

This is the best film of the '80s so far, let down only by a mildly disappointing theme song from a-Ha, even if it isn't as awful as Shirley Manson of Garbage notoriously said it is. After the problems of A View to a Kill we now have a younger Bond and a witty script, and as a result there's not a lot wrong.

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