The Living Daylights (1987)

Action, Adventure, Crime, Romance, Thriller
Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker
James Bond is living on the edge to stop an evil arms dealer from starting another world war. Bond crosses all seven continents in order to stop the evil Whitaker and General Koskov.
In The Living Daylights, newcomer Timothy Dalton plays James Bond with more debonair seriousness than preceding installments, and the result, is energetic, exciting, and occasionally weighty.
  • MGM Home Entertainment Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 31 Jul 1987 Released:
  • 17 Oct 2000 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson Writer:
  • John Glen Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Trailer:

Dalton's Debut: Back to Fleming!5/10

With Roger Moore's 'retirement' as 007, in the less-than-wonderful A VIEW TO A KILL, Eon Productions began searching for a new James Bond for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. A promising candidate was Sam Neill, 39, popular star of TV's "Reilly: The Ace of Spies" (and future JURASSIC PARK dinosaur expert). But Albert Broccoli didn't like Neill's tests, and announced he wanted Welsh actor Timothy Dalton, whom he'd first approached for the role 16 years earlier. At that time, Dalton had turned down Bond, saying he was "too young". Now 41, both Dalton and Broccoli agreed he was the right age, and his tests were fabulous...but it was then discovered that the shooting schedule for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS would conflict with Dalton's current project, BRENDA STARR, and he, reluctantly, had to pass on the project.

Then an Irish actor, who had become a major television star in America, appeared on the scene. Pierce Brosnan, 34, his "Remington Steele" TV series about to be canceled by NBC, had impressed Broccoli on a visit to the Bond set 5 years earlier, and his tests were so good that he won the role. The script was adjusted, adding more humor (quips were one of Brosnan's strong points), and things were moving along nicely...until NBC, seeing the publicity value of a potential 'James Bond' in a series, renewed "Remington Steele", throwing the entire Bond production into turmoil. The network refused to release Brosnan, and he had to leave.

Fortunately, the delay gave Timothy Dalton time to complete BRENDA STARR, and he began shooting THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS two days after STARR wrapped.

Dalton, an avid fan of Fleming's novels, preferred a harder-edged yet vulnerable Bond, with little or no humor, but screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson had already tailored the script to Brosnan, and Dalton quickly revealed that one-liners were not his strongest asset. He gave, nonetheless, a strong, smoldering performance as 007. As his leading lady, Maryam d'Abo, 26, who'd been 'discovered' while doing 007 candidate screen tests, proved quite good as a blackmailed Czech cellist Bond 'couldn't kill'. The villains, while not 'top drawer' Bond, were effective; Jeroen Krabbe as a defecting Russian general, dancer-turned-actor Andreas Wisniewski as nearly superhuman assassin Necros, and Joe Don Baker, as a 'good ol' boy' megalomaniac U.S. general.

With action around the world, and a complicated plot involving a weapons heist and sale, the story attempted to be more 'topical' by involving the Afghan/Soviet conflict (which, unfortunately, 'dated' it, as well). Bond is monogamous for the first time, and the more 'physical' portrayal of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY had returned, to the delight of Bond purists.

But LETHAL WEAPON would also debut in 1987, and the 'over-the-top' solid action film would cut deeply into THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS profits. The 007 film was considered almost 'quaint' in comparison, and Dalton would unfairly take the 'heat' for the less profitable film.

The world was changing around 007, and no one was quite sure what to do about it...
A New Era Dawns...Temporarily.5/10
The year: 1987, the Man: Timothy Dalton, the film? The Living Daylights and good news for adults across the globe because after sending off their kids to joke it up with Roger Moore for over a decade they could finally sit down to a Bond movie which, whisper it quietly, resembled a real thriller...and a good one at that. We should be grateful for Dalton's two stints as the Bond because they came within a whisp of never existing. Had the studio had their way, Moore would have been wheeled off for Brosnan and a serious reinvention of the series would have been dropped in favour of the, er, "winning" return to form we've been privileged enough to have enjoyed since 1995's Goldeneye.

Dalton's take on the character was to return it (and I hope you're sitting down) to the brooding, cruel and methodical assassin envisioned by Flemming in his original stories. TD was a RADA trained Shakespearian actor for God's sake and certainly had no intention of smirking and punning his way through each adventure. Dalton said that half the world loved Connery and the other half loved Moore (which is hedging your bets a bit) but he bravely chose to play it like neither. We can only imagine at the relief Richard Maibrum must have felt, given the opportunity to finally write an real screenplay tailored to the new approach, having been no doubt advised in previous outings that plot and character was superfluous to requirements. The result is a story set in the real world . Goodbye super-villains bloated on world domination plots and hello to arms dealers, Afgan resistance fighters, double crosses and political assassinations. After so many remakes of You Only Live Twice it certainly is a tonic and Dalton's hard-edged, professional spy washes over you like a radox bath following a 300 mile trek through the Gobi. His performance reinvigorates the series and makes all thats old new again. The familiar elements are all here - the car, the girls, the locations, but anchored in a real cold war setting with Pretenders loving KGB agents round every corner and the credible whiff of counter-espionage, the whole thing crackles with an energy and an urgency that would have been a fantasy in any of Moores mirth-ridden efforts. Even John Barry's music, in his final contribution to the series, is a fresh and exciting affair - blending high tempo action cues with his usual gift for generating a sense of foreboding and pathos in equal measure. Yes, Bond hadn't felt this good or LOOKED this good since the mid-sixites but as if to prove the old adage that you can't have too much of a good thing, we didn't. Audiences found Dalton humorless and the heady excesses of good story, three-dimensional characterisation and real world setting somewhat distracting. After all, where were all the puns (Dalton's "he got the boot" aside), the jokes and the evil bloke at the end who plans to ravage the planet with deadly spores? People were beginning to ask and Dalton still had two films to go on his contract....
Not only a great Bond movie, but a great spy thriller.10/10

While many will debate and argue over Timothy Dalton for years to come, in much the same way as over George Lazenby, I going to put my foot out and say Dalton is one of my favorite Bond's, along with Brosnan and Connery. There never really has been a bad Bond actor, but Dalton, I believe is up there with Connery and Pierce and I love The Living Daylights. Dalton was my first 'new' Bond in many ways. I was four when this film was released, and was developing a love for the Bond movies at the time. I had grown up watching the Moore and Connery movies on television and Dalton was the first new actor in the role that I seen, which is why I have special affection for this Bond movie. I love it. Not only do we have a great Bond movie, but it is also a great espionage thriller that eventually turns into the kind of epic Bond adventure we all know and love. The plot involving the double-double cross of a KGB agent defecting to Britain called Georgi played brilliantly by Jeroen Krabbe, and Bond's attempts to find him when he is 'kidnapped' by playing on the trust of his girlfriend, Kara, a beautiful cello player performed magnificently by Maryam D'abo, is enthralling, and the way it leads from the London countryside, to the ferris wheels of Vienna and eventually to Afghanistan is superbly done. The film is mixture of the thriller elements of the Ian Fleming novels and the epic adventure scope of the movies.

As James Bond Timothy Dalton is excellent, a fantastic choice to play the part. His decision to play the part more akin to the novels of Fleming than the humor of Roger Moore is an inspired choice. He is a mixture of the Fleming character and Sean Connery's Bond. While there is a serious nature here (the darker elements would be at the forefront more in the equally brilliant Licence To Kill), there is still room for humor as seen in the car chase ("I've had a few optional extras installed" when talking about the gadgets). Coming off the Moore films, it may have been too soon for a return to the serious roots, but it works well in the long run. The film doesn't feel like some far fetched action film, it feels like a great spy movie with great actors. Adding to this a wonderfully 80's theme tune from A-Ha, a great score from John Barry and a plethora of great baddies as well as some great set pieces (the battle on the runway at the end is great as is Bond's climactic battle with henchman Necros hanging from the back of an airplane).

I love this film a lot. It's dark, yes, although not as dark as the film that was to come, and is still cracking great entertainment. It is a forgotten Bond classic and it is nice that as time has went on, Dalton's movies as the character have remained as great as they were in the late 80's.
One of the best.10/10

Quite simply put The Living Daylights is one of the best James Bond films they have ever made & if Wilson & co are smart they'll do more like this one.

Having decided to give up the role of 007 in 1985 Roger Moore stepped down,Moore had saved the series in the early 70's but had stayed in the role a movie to long(they should have left it with the excellent Octopussy),the hunt was now on for a new actor who could take the role into the 90's....Thankfully Dalton was the man they found. As soon as he got the part Dalton went straight back to the source material..ie Ian Fleming's novels & it shows on the screen...the bond in the Living Daylights is the Bond character jumping right out of the books.

The film really shows how keen everyone involved in it wanted to say that this was a fresh start but at the same time still show that this is a Bond picture & they pull it off very well..John Glen's direction is excellent,he really found his feet by now & all the aspects of the film are done well...A special mention must also go to John Barry who's score for the film is one of his best...oh if only they couyd bring him back rather than have his clone do the new ones....

Timothy Dalton is very much undervalued in his contribution to the Bond movies but i do feel that in about 10 years & his films will be seen in a different light on how they are looked on today. The producers of the Bond movies really need to do the same again now as they did back in 1987...make Bond a character & no more films like Die Another Day..OK it made them tons of money but is it worth selling the sole of Bond to do it..... Give the role to Clive Owen & make Bond a character again.
A Great Bond Film5/10

Perhaps one of the most overlooked films in the James Bond series, this one brought things back down to Earth for the series. Though Roger Moore made a good James Bond, he had by now out-grown the series. Timothy Dalton is perhaps the most underrated actor to play James Bond, due to his rather brief stint as the character. He is terrific in both his films, and gives 007 a brooding that Bond has not had in any of his previous films. The movie is also good because the romance between Dalton and Mariam D'abo is there and is wonderful to see. Though Kara Milovy is not a tough Bond girl, she is one of the most sensitive and most romantic with Bond himself. The side love story is great to watch. The villains are not that good, for they are not given enough screen time, but the plot is great to try and figure out. Though it's not half as confusing as Mission: Impossible, it still took me a while to catch on at some parts. On a side note, John Rhys Daves once again proves what a great character actor he is as General Pushkin. This Bond movie stands out for it is basically the last to incorporate the USSR, the KGB, and any other Cold War element plots. Cheers to The Living Daylights, an unsung hero of the James Bond series.