Juck’s Thoughts on the Living Daylights

I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. Let’s get started!

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Bond. Is. Back.

They say that Bond became dark with the arrival of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. As a young lad who had gone from Die Another Day to Casino Royale, I couldn’t help but agree. But now I am older. Now I know better. Dark Bond was born with Timothy Dalton in the Living Daylights, a film that has breathed new life into the James Bond franchise.

I must begin by discussing Timothy Dalton’s screen presence. The man fits right into the role of Bond. There was no adjustment period, there was no question as to whether or not he could take on the role. For me, Timothy Dalton was Bond the second he took off his mask in the opening sequence. Dalton’s Bond has a cold, brooding presence. He comes across as being a smart, quick thinker. He cracks jokes, yet he is ultimately a serious individual.

Often times, I felt that Roger Moore was aloof, standing about and responding woodenly to the conflicts that surrounded him. Timothy Dalton, on the other hand, was always present. Even when he wasn’t uttering a word, the audience was fully aware of his screen presence. Dalton sold the cool look without seeming apathetic and without hanging about like he expected everything to turn out well. This man is Bond.

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The Living Daylights begins with what may very well be the best Bond opening sequence to date. It was captivating, visually impressive, and properly scored. In fact, the entire film has a stellar score that achieves the perfect balance between classic Bond and a retro Bond sound. This movie kicked off Timothy Dalton’s Bond with a well-executed bang.

Another thing about the Living Daylights that surprised me was the degree to which the dialogue captivated me. I found the words exchanged to be interesting and substantial, which has rarely been the case with Bond films thus far into the series. To my satisfaction, I was fully invested in what the characters were saying. Hats off to the writers who worked on this Bond installment.

I must add that I had a blast with the crafty gadgets in this movie. The decked out cars were also a treat. What triumphs everything, however, is the “ghetto blaster.”

Politically correct? No. Priceless? Indeed.

This time around, the Bond girl was a likable and layered character. She was well acted, she had great chemistry with Timothy Dalton, and she was one of the most capable Bond girls to date. She is the first in a string of countless Bond girls who was not

a) utterly useless

b) annoying

c) merely there for to provide cleavage

d) All of the above

(D is the correct answer)

Props to her for stepping up the Bond girl game. 

What is most striking about the Living Daylights is its darkness. Bond is unbelievably cold. There is a moment where he rips the clothes off of a woman and uses her exposed body as a distraction. After she serves her purpose, he scares her into a closet. This comes as a shock, although it really should not. Bond has been harming women since From Russia With Love. In addition to Bond’s coldness, the film’s action is brutal. Check out this fight scene. (Begins 1:20, ends 2:15)

That was no karate scene with watermelons being used as weapons. That was hardcore.

Despite all of the darkness, the Living Daylights was not a depressing flick. There was plenty humor scattered through. In addition to the ghetto blaster featured above (watch it again. Soak in the glory), there was a chase down a snowy mountainside that involved a cello. The sight of it had me laughing out loud.

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If you don’t find that funny, you have no soul.

The only aspect about the Living Daylights that I have yet to make up my mind about is the new Moneypenny. She seems to be agreeable thus far, though she may prove be too on-the-nose for Moneypenny. Time will tell.

Over all, the Living Daylights is a drastic revival of the Bond franchise. The movie brings new energy across the board. The acting, the music, the dialogue, the action, the entire spectacle was a joy. I am getting very good vibes from Timothy Dalton. The Living Daylights is one of my favorite Bond films thus far. It will certainly be hard to top.

~Juck