Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Part four in the ongoing series "The Only 5 Bond Films you need to see"

The Living Daylights, 1987

FULL DISCLOSURE: This was the first Bond film I saw in a theater* (and owned an official copy of on VHS which I watched almost as many times as Die Hard i.e. every day after school) so it holds a special place for me. It still however has a valid place on the list, but you will excuse me if I gush a bit in places about it.

*Technically I saw For Your Eyes Only in a theater as well, but I was 6 and didn't appreciate it then, plus I fell asleep pretty quickly.

Plot: James Bond deals with a defecting Russian officer, a plot to kill brutish agents and a girl with a cello.

Reason for placement on the list:

James Bond has now gone to a dark place. He gave his love to Vesper and she betrayed him. He gave his love to Teresa and she was killed. Bond has realized that he can never ever truly love and all he can be is 007. He resents this. He doesn't care all that much about the job, but he does it out of duty. Could M fire him for what he does? He cares not. He defies orders (even more so than normal,) he takes an extra hour to report in after a fellow OO is killed just so he can bed a random chick, he risks WW3 happening all on a hunch. He has been hurt so much that all he can do now is what he is trained to do and cares not for anyone he hurts along the way. This Bond is fairly depressed but hides it well. He realizes early on that Kara was just a pawn in the defection scheme but he uses her the same way to get what he wants. For an even darker approach to Bond, Dalton's second film the vastly underrated "License to Kill" removed the majority of humor from the film and played it mostly serious.

I know it's just an out of conrtol jeep smashing through a wall and flying off a cliff, but man, I love this shot:

Gun barrel sequence:

Timothy Dalton puts his own flair on the gun barrel. Steady walk with a one handed gun shot with a strong stance and lean.

Opening Number:

After the success of the last Bond theme song (a View to a Kill by Duran Duran) the producers thought they could hit paydirt again by getting a song to hit the charts big. Originally the opening song was to be "Where has everybody gone" by the Pretenders (the song can be heard in the film on the KGB assassin's headphones and in the credits) but they felt going with Norwegian band aha (yes, "take me on" aha) would be better for record sales. A fairly standard and even Binder credit sequence:

This would be Maurice Binders second to last opening credit design.

Best Action Sequence:

Hands down the fight with the KGB assassin hanging out of the airplane on the net full of opium always impresses me.

However, the staging and brilliance of the car chase with the beautiful Aston Martin V8 Vantage in the snow and subsequent Cello Ski chase wins.

I hate the fact that we are becoming a touch screen world. I miss the days of a great push button interface:


Time to leave!

I am sure glad I forced you to bring your cello!

Gadgets used:

Gadgets make a come back to the list in a big way. We get:

-Whistle locater key ring with stun gas and small explosive capabilities
-Super Key that can open 90% if the worlds locks
-Tricked out Aston Martin with Laser, ice-driving kit, short term rocket boost, missiles, bullet proof glass and self destruct.

Felix Leiter Count: One

Best Line:

I will have to admit, this one didn't really have a line that stood out. Sure there were some good Bond quips but since this movie was originally scripted thinking that Roger Moore was going to continue (good lord, he would have made Indiana Jones 4 look spry and young at that point!) so some of the lines seemed like a call back to the cheese that unfortunately permeated in Rogers tenure (trust me, 2 of the 5 Bond films you should NEVER see are Roger Moore films) However, in the spirit of my theory I will choose one. Going back the opening of the film in what I consider a dick move (even for James Bond) after finding a fellow agent murdered, attacking and killing an Assassin, driving a jeep off a cliff and parachuting onto a yacht. Instead of reporting in as soon as possible he calls into say "I will be there in an hour"

The lonely bored rich woman offers him champagne with a "won't you join me?"

To which Bond then tells MI6, "Better make it two"

Random points of interest:

-Timothy Dalton was actually asked to be Bond back in 1968 when Sean stepped down the first time. If he had taken the role, it would have been him instead of George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Fortunately, Dalton had the smarts then to realize he was way too young to be Bond and declined. Dalton was originally offered the role in The Living Daylights but had to turn it down due to conflicts. The role was then offered to Pierce Brosnan who had just lost his job when NBC cancelled Remington Steele. News of this got out and interest in Remington Steele shot up causing NBC to bring back the show and keep Pierce to his contract. The role was again offered to Dalton and he accepted.

-The rebels that Bond works with are the Mujahideen which in the real world has lead to some becoming members of the Taliban. Therefore, James Bond supports terrorists :)

-I realized after reviewing this film for this list that the reason I have always been in love with the C-130 Hurcules Military Cargo Plane is because of this film.

-This would be John Barry's last James Bond film that he scored. Micheal Kamen, Eric Serra and finally staying with David Arnold took over composing work.

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