Digging Double Oh Seven: The Living Daylights (1987)

For some reason, I thought Timothy Dalton was in a lot more Bond movies than just two. I think it’s because he was the guy playing James Bond around the time I was starting to gain a foothold in pop culture mountain. If you’re wondering Sean Connery was in six official movies and one extra, George Lazenby has the fewest with one, Roger Moore did seven, Dalton was in two, Pierce Brosnon has four under his belt and, so far, Daniel Craig has done two with another in the works. After thinking that Moore was getting a bit old to be playing an international action hero, I was glad to see that I enjoyed the younger and more mysterious Dalton in the role. He brings something extra to Bond, a kind of brooding intensity that Connery hinted at, but Dalton really nails. Even though he’s obviously a younger actor than Moore, it still feels like, as a character, he’s still gone through all the things that the character did when previous actors played him. This isn’t a simple, good guys versus bad guys story either as allegiances are questioned, orders are ignored and traitors are dealt with.

But, hey, it’s not all brooding intensity, there’s also a lot of fun to be had in the movie. The beginning starts with a training session that very creatively reveals our new Bond (three Double Ohs who we can’t see are sent on the mission, as the game continues we see that one looks kind of like George Lazenby, the other like Roger Moore and then finally we see Dalton), then we see Bond getting out of Russia thanks to a pneumatic tube that takes him into a lab where Q’s people are testing a ghetto blaster that actually shoots rockets. He even calls it a ghetto blaster! I know some people think that kind of stuff is cheesy and it is a little, but it’s also a ton of fun and one of the elements I missed when watching Craig in Casino Royale the one and only time I watched that movie. Ideas like that are continued to a mansion where M and some other folks are having a meeting and the gardener outside has a rake that acts as a metal detector. Again, it might seem corny, but real spies have often benefited from hiding important tools in everyday items.

I have a tendency to miss some of the details when watching these movies (and most movies, really) because I’m almost always doing something else, usually on the computer. Great movies completely pull me away from the computer and draw me in, most movies draw me in for the interesting bits, which this flick had a lot of. But, because of my poor attention, I missed some of the broader plot strokes. Here’s the deal though, Bond was supposed to help a Russian general defect, but it’s really all a ruse. There’s also a cellist acting as an assassin, an actual assassin called Necros and John Rhys-Davies as a framed Russian. Oh Joe Don Baker’s up this piece too as an arm’s dealer. The movie hops from Tangier to Afghanistan and there’s a scene with Bond and Necros fighting on a net holding opium dangling from the back of a plane in flight. It’s pretty rad. Okay, I guess I’m not really sure what the overall plot of the movie, but it was pretty fun regardless. My only problem with the movie? I didn’t like the cellist played by Maryam d’Abo nor did I like how much Bond seemed to fall in love with her. It never ends well when Bond’s really into a woman (see the novel version of Casino Royale or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). But, to make up for that, we get to see Bond at a carnival, so that’s a bonus. Looking forward to the next and last Dalton Bond movie!

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