Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam D’Abo, Jeroen Krabbé
Director: John Glen
Running Time: 130 mins
The Living Daylights is a British film and the fifteenth instalment in the James Bond series. Following his discovery of an evil arms dealer who plans to start World War Three, 007 is forced to take action to prevent the end of the world.
Timothy Dalton’s tenure as the super secret agent James Bond has never been highly acclaimed, and this film shows exactly why. Despite there being some good, fun action here and there, there’s a huge conflict in the tone of this movie, between the classic, high-stakes action story and Dalton’s attempts to bring a more serious, gritty side to Bond, and it just comes off as confused more than anything.
Before we get into that, however, let’s look at what there is to enjoy about this movie. Mainly, the action sequences are pretty good. They’re not particularly exhilarating or nail-biting, but that’s largely due to the poor story, which we’ll get onto in a moment, but for the most part, every chase scene, and especially the spectacular final sequence, is a good bit of fun to watch, and provides the most classic Bond feeling of anything else in this movie.
Meanwhile, Dalton’s performance, for all its criticism, isn’t all that bad. Sure, he may not be a particularly fun or hugely likeable presence like Sean Connery and Roger Moore were, but he’s deliberately going for a more impressive acting performance than either of those two, and, in general, he pulls that off, so he’s not entirely at fault for why this film doesn’t work.
The main issue that I have with this film is that it really is stuck between two worlds. On the one hand, you’ve got Dalton bringing this more serious edge to 007, and yet the story remains in the old world of James Bond. Of course, it’s nowhere near as silly as some of Roger Moore’s later entries, but it’s still a mad enough high-octane plot that it clashes hugely with Dalton’s performance.
What’s more is that the writing really isn’t that good either. The plot is more generic and bland than it’s ever been, and without the action, there wouldn’t have been any real excitement at all, because in all of the dialogue sequences, it just gets really, really boring. Bond should be a guy who we love to watch no matter if he’s in a fistfight or in bed with some random woman, but here, we just don’t get that feeling at all, and it’s a real shame.
Overall, The Living Daylights is one of the more disappointing Bond films. It has its moments, particularly in the action sequences, and Timothy Dalton shouldn’t be too heavily criticised for his darker turn as Bond, but in general, the conflicting tone and painfully generic story make for a generally dull and unexciting watch, and that’s why I’ll give this a 6.6.