Director: John Glen (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker)
Novel: Ian Fleming
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
Producers: Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman
Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 130 min.
This is one of many in a series of reviews that are part of the James Bond January blog-a-thon started at paragraphfilmreviews. Each day throughout the month a new review of each of the films in the 007 franchise by various bloggers, fans and critics. Enjoy!
I seem to remember pretty much everyone being put off by the Timothy Dalton evolution of James Bond when he took over for Roger Moore in 1987 with The Living Daylights. I remember being firmly within the majority at the time. Recently as I’ve surfed around the movie web sites it’s now become fashionable to claim that Dalton is actually one of the better incarnations of Bond. I have to respectfully disagree with that sentiment. But we’ll get to that.
Not having seen all of the Bond films, The Living Daylights has got to be one of the more convoluted in plot structure. The movie goes all over the place with a number of villains all seemingly after different things and so full of double cross that it almost seems Bond could simply step back, not get in the way and watch the whole affair implode on its own. To be perfectly honest, I was never quite sure who wanted what or why. This picture didn’t seem to have that quintessential, iconic villain that other 007 movies have. There’s no one villain that sticks out as really something special (like Dr. No, Le Chiffre, Jaws or even a Mr. Big or Max Zorin). Yes it’s obvious who the villains are (by the end anyway) and that Bond must defeat them, but for the life of me I can’t figure out exactly what the stakes involved are here. It’s possible that the plot is simply overly ambitious, but at well over two hours, it just becomes a mess.