TIMOTHY DALTON is Ian Fleming’s 007
1987 – 1989
1987 – THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS
Directed by John Glen
I am left eating my words as where Timothy Dalton’s James Bond is concerned. Since I was a kid, and bare on mind that I was only 9 when The Living Daylights, Dalton’s first of two Bond films, was released. As a child of the 80’s, it was Roger Moore who was James Bond for me, with my parents telling that it Sean Connery was the only true incarnation, so when Dalton turned up with a much more serious demeanor and take on the role, the 9-year-old was not impressed.
But in the post Bourne and Daniel Craig era in which we now live, it’s time to re-examine the Dalton films. He was doing for the 25th anniversary of the iconic franchise what Craig has done since 2006’s Casino Royale. Craig is even harder, but what we have with The Living Daylights is a harder and more realistic bond, but the lighter touch of the Bond we know. George Lazenby’s, On Her Majesties Secret Service (1969) is a reference here, as both bring a more vibrant and aggressive tone, whilst maintaining the humour and one liners.
The tone was fun, whilst the action, that which was not shot in front of a rear projection screen, was exciting, the plane finale was well conceived and equally as well shot with some great stunt work. The film’s politics are always questionable as the Bond franchise is like a time capsule of the politics of the era; this time looking at Soviet occupied Afghanistan of the late 80’s. Basically, it could easily be interpreted that Kamran Shah (Art Malik) may well have been the playing the equivalent of Bin Laden, who in this case is Bond’s ally…
But many things have changed in the past 25 years and so has Bond but I’m pleased to report that Dalton is not the damp squib that I remember from my youth and was an enjoyable incarnation of this ever-changing character. Ludicrous at times but fun throughout. This is Bond trying to make a serious attempt to not take himself too seriously.
1989 – LICENSE TO KILL
Directed by John Glen
Possibly the darkest, most violent and grittiest Bond of them all. Clearly playing, as usual, to the American market, Bond joins most anti heroes of the day and goes up against a South American drug cartel. But in true Bond style, this cartel making plans on a grand scale but the British agent will take them down single handed.
This is much better than people give this credit for. The finale has real and simple stakes, the action is good, though there a plot holes, which are par for the course with Bond film, mainly in the characterisations of Bond and “M”, as Dalton’s 007 goes rogue, just as many of his predecessors had before, without this much fuss.
But plot holes aside, this is a change in direction for the franchise and one which again would be abandoned for a good many years until Casino Royale (2006) tried it again.