The Living Daylights (1987) (PG)

It's a relief to get a break from Roger Moore. Timothy Dalton steps into Bond's shoes in "The Living Daylights" and John Glen remains at the helm for directing. The team manages to pull a fun a fresh Bond out of the franchise, but that could just be the result of the change in scenery.
While on a training mission, a mercenary infiltrates the MI6 base and starting killing off people. While they try to sneak into a military-like base protected by other MI6 agents (if you get shot by a paintball gun, you're dead), this infiltrator is cutting ropes and leaving messages.
But don't worry because James Bond is among those being hunted, yet he cannot be surprised. A car chase leads to parachutes which leads the main titles which then brings us back into Bond's world.
Bernard Lee played M for a long time, longer than any of the Bond actors played 007 and Lois Maxwell was Moneypenny even longer than Lee was M (nothing to do with the Fritz Lang movie). Here, they are both gone and both replaced by different actors. The entire cast, minus Desmond Llewelyn as Q, is practically brand new and that could answer why "The Living Daylights" feels
The first twenty minutes of the film are filled with fun times and races against the clock. A Russian general has claimed that he wants to defect to England and 007, along with another fairly annoying agent are in Russia to make sure that everything goes along smoothly. A few shots in the dark, midnight car rides, and stripteases later and the general is safe in Austria where a plane is waiting for him.
But the KGB are not so easily duped and they are determined to get their general back even if it means killing loads of British agents...the more the merrier.
Without revealing too much of the plot of "The Living Daylights", suffice it to say that Bond once again has to suit up and kick butt.
Timothy Dalton is perhaps my favorite Bond yet. Roger Moore was almost painful to watch, though he did have a certain uncaring and nonplussed quality that brought a great courage to the Bond character. Dalton is less like Moore and more like George Lazenby (less Moore, more...never mind) who never really got to stretch his creative wings and take over the Bond character.
Dalton is intelligent, fast on his feet, emotional, and ruthless. He becomes a Macgyver-esque character, with something always up his sleeve. This movie has James Bond defeating most of his foes simply with his ingenuity and his hands. Q's devices don't really come into play until the very last seconds of the film.
"The Living Daylights" is possibly the smartest Bond movie yet with an almost air-tight plot. It's well acted, and it bridges the gap between comically stupid and entertainingly thrilling. There have been moments the Bond series that have been pulse-pounding; but this movie is much more serious. The stunt work is incredible again and this Bond girl (Maryam d'Abo) is fairly tolerable.
"The Living Daylights" does have some problems, most notably the overindulgence in sentimentality that it didn't need; but for the most part, it's a lot of fun.

Score: ★★★

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