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Review The Living Daylights (1987): Dalton is the most underrated Bond ever!

genre: action, adventure, espionage




The Living Daylights is easily a favourite of mine of all the James Bond films. It is one I can watch over and over again without getting bored. Read my review to find out why.

For one thing even today the film is still very much relevant. It's not dated like some Bond films are. Even politically it addresses a few subjects that matter today like Afghanistan and the freedom fighters. It delivers on action and spectacle but even more important (at least for me) it comes with the best soundtrack produced by John Barry. It is the soundtrack that enhances the viewing experience enormously. It makes the majority of the scenes so much more pleasurable and timeless.

Jump to 1:35 in video underneath for the brilliance of the OST I am referring to:



And here is another example of a magnificent piece that draws you in and give this film that magical touch:




Then there is Timothy Dalton. The first actor to portray James Bond the closest as Ian Fleming had envisioned. Dark, ruthless and a professional assassin who was focused on the mission and did not let himself get distracted too much. But he was also one of the few to show that he actually cared about a woman in this case Kara played by Maryam d'Abo. Many fans and critics claim that Dalton was too serious and cold but seem to have missed out on the subtleties of his expressions. In one scene James and Kara get captured and Bond manages to get free. To which Kara says: You were fantastic, we're free! And then James responds: Kara we're inside a Russian air base in the middle of Afghanistan. Try the small key. When she does as he asks he looks at her lovingly and smiles. Then there is another scene where Kara (in jeep) approaches James who is piloting a plane. He is signaling her to drive the jeep inside the plane from the back. She doesn't seem to get what he is saying to which he looks up and seems to be saying Dear God. These moments might have been brief but did show enough of Dalton bringing a lot of substance and depth to the character than he is given credit for. Above all he makes his character believable and real that way.

Maybe the villains aren't as wacky or power hungry as the previous ones in the franchise but that is almost the most brilliant thing about them. They seem to be more the kind of threats MI6 would be dealing a lot more than those super villain types. At least their motives are very basic and realistic. One of the henchmen named Necros does impress. He is just as efficient and ruthless as James Bond is.  

Of course this would not be a Bond movie without fast cars and gadgets. And the Aston Martin that is featured here has some nifty gadgets installed. Plus later in the film there is one that helps Bond out of his predicament yet again. Honestly would Bond even be living without Q? 

The Living Daylights is very underrated if you ask me. It has everything you want in a good Bond film plus it is one of the few that has aged well. It still is just as enjoyable as the first time I saw it. That ladies and gentlemen is the sign of a true classic. 


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