James Bond: From Worst to Best – The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights


As I said in my earlier Licence to Kill review, I think Timothy Dalton got a bad wrap for his portrayal of Bond. After films like Moonraker and Octopussy, we desperately needed Bond to get back to what made him great. Unfortunately, it seemed the public had become very comfortable with Bond being a joke (especially after literally dressing up as a clown). Right off the bat, The Living Daylights shows that we are back into For Your Eyes Only territory. The opening is a fun, tense, and well-directed action sequence that sees Bond chase an impostor during a “routine training exercise.” Timothy Dalton instantly becomes the James Bond we’ve waited for here…he’s tough, brutal, but not without his charm. You can see why MGM had been chasing Dalton since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. Dalton felt he was too young for the role and proceeded to turn down Diamonds are Forever and For Your Eyes Only for the same reason. Although this was a smart move on his part, only being 23 years-old in 1969, I would have liked him to have taken over by FYEO. I feel that with his take on the character, the next two installments would have been considerably less jokey. Plus, who wouldn’t want to watch Dalton go up against Christopher Walken?

As for the film itself, I think this one is pretty great. The Living Daylights gives us a number of great action sequences, a serious new take on the character, and a good Cold War spy story. This one actually has quite a thick plot as far as the past few Bond films were concerned, and seems to read just like one of Ian Fleming’s novels. The film moves along quite nicely and feels like a genuine spy flick, with much of that James Bond flair thrown in. We get a great chase sequence that highlights Bond’s particular Aston Martin in a chase through the snow, some back-stabbing, some twists, and a fantastic finale that features what is arguably my favorite Bond one-liner.  tld plane

The finale is not only fun and exciting, but also an all-around impressive stunt on its own. As you can see on the picture here, Bond and the KGB henchman are hanging off the back of a net while a cargo jet flies through the air. For the most part, this would be done with CGI today. Luckily, this is not what the series is known for and a huge part of why I have such respect for it. The making of this stunt is a pretty fantastic watch in itself, with one of the stuntmen almost being knocked unconscious because the net would fly up and down and beat him against the plane. Even though they had parachutes under their wardrobe, he would not have been able to pull the cord had he been knocked out. It’s an absolutely thrilling sequence and has been paid homage to in the most recent Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. While I am glad to see that some of these impressive stunts are beginning to come back to film, I do think they are still scarce.

Overall, this is a great Bond film. Dalton makes an impressive entrance as Bond and the mix of story and action are on point here.

Worst to Best so far:
24. Live & Let Die
23. The Man with the Golden Gun
22. A View to a Kill
21. Die Another Day
20. Octopussy
19. Moonraker
18. Diamonds are Forever
17. Quantum of Solace
16. Licence to Kill
15. The World is Not Enough
14. You Only Live Twice
13. For Your Eyes Only
12. The Living Daylights

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