The Living Daylights (1987)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Glamorized Spy Film, Romantic Adventure  |   Release Date - Jul 31, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 130 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Blame it on the age of AIDS and safe sex, or simply an attempt to produce a kinder and gentler James Bond, but The Living Daylights was supposed to usher in an era of the notorious ladykiller becoming a one-woman man. Never mind that a new love interest would eradicate Bond's monogamy in License to Kill (1989) -- for the moment, at least, audiences got to enjoy the quaint images of Timothy Dalton and Maryam d'Abo in such chaste pursuits as holding hands and riding a ferris wheel. That this would become a focus of Dalton's first Bond movie says a lot about what the rest of the film has to offer. Dalton's two Bond films clearly found the franchise at a low point, but The Living Daylights is at least lighter on its feet and more fun that the dark and violent License to Kill. The plot is almost headache-inducing, but the set pieces are carried off with veteran Bond director John Glen's usual panache -- including a thrilling Aston Martin gadget sequence and an airborne escape in a Jeep -- so fans weren't ready to have Dalton's head just yet. Dalton is certainly debonair enough, but he's humorless -- any good Bond needs to learn to lighten up. The Living Daylights marks the first appearance in the Bond series of Joe Don Baker, though he would be better known for a different character, the talkative good guy Jack Wade in Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).