The Living Daylights (1987)

And so we come to the short-lived reign of Timothy Dalton. One of the more interesting facts I’ve learned from reading up on the history of the Bond films is that Dalton was actually first offered the role as long ago as 1968, turning it down then cos he thought he was too young, and then he turned it down again in 1980 or so cos he feared having to make films like Moonraker. Cubby Broccoli was obviously determined, though, and finally secured him for the first post-Moore Bond film… was it worth the wait? I’d seen the film only once before (I never saw Licence to Kill, which situation should finally be rectified next week) and I don’t recall liking it much back then. While I enjoyed it more tonight, to be sure, it was kind of instructive actually seeing it in its correct place in the sequence, cos I realised just how poor Dalton was at delivering the attempts at humour that either Connery or Moore would’ve delivered with aplomb. It’s like the script was written to give him things to do that he knew he’d be uncomfortable doing, and unfortunately that discomfort registers. The Living Daylights was an attempt to try and make the Bond films a serious affair again, and Dalton pitches his performance accordingly; it’s bereft of the wit Moore found in it. It was a noble attempt, of course, to harden the series up, but perhaps too much of a change… I don’t know. Paradoxically, Dalton almost seems too young in the role after we’ve seen Moore grow old in it; Dalton was the same age Connery was when he quit but looks a lot younger than he did by that point. I’ve said nothing about Maryam D’abo cos, well, there’s nothing much to say about her really. On the whole, though, it seemed like a better film than I remembered it being, and seems to have been pretty well received. Little did anyone expect, I suppose, that both Dalton and the series as a whole were just one film away from early retirement…

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