Double O Countdown: The Living Daylights

We enter a new era of James Bond Films with “The Living Daylights”. For the first twenty-five years of Cinematic James Bond, there were two actors who held the throne with a brief interruption by a usurper. For the next twenty five years, the role was dominated by two other actors, after a brief reign by a Crown Prince that could not hold the throne. Timothy Dalton had been eyed as a James Bond as early as “OHMSS”, he finally got the role by default when Pierce Brosnan was held hostage by his television show. In my opinion, he might have given Connery a run for his money as the best James Bond, if only legal chaos had not pulled him from the role. As it is, we have two sparkling adventures that just begin to show his promise.

001  Another Snow Escape

Bond comes equipped with a couple of modes of transportation from opposite ends of the spectrum. He starts off with a Q provided Aston Martin Volante, with special modifications including a heads up display, rocket launchers, a set of skids for the snow and a jet boost.

The high tech vehicle only helps out our hero in the first part of the chase. He has to improvise with the last half and that involves tobogganing down the slopes in a cello case.

It is one of those amusing and innovative ways that 007 finds to use his natural instinct for survival.

Of course it is a filmed entertainment, so to make it more fun a gag is added at the end which doesn’t spoil the bit but does remind us that we are watching a James Bond Adventure. As they escape past the border, Bond gets the cello over the gate by tossing it to himself.

002  Mujahideen –Afghanistan before it gets even nastier

As part of the plot, Bond and Kara escape a Russian Military base in Afghanistan (during the Russian Occupation) and are taken prisoner or into protective custody by the freedom fighting Mujahideen.


This section revels one of the complications of political/military operations in that part of the world. The insurgents work with a local warlord who is selling opium to the Russian General Koskov.

At the end of the film, M introduces the Mujahideen leader to General Golol, an awkward moment diffused by Kara wondering where James has got to.

003 Opening Training Sequence

We see commandos parachuting onto Gibraltar, but soon realize from the paint guns being used that it is a training exercise, at least until the commandos start being executed by a mysterious figure on the island. Bond is revealed and chases down the assassin in a jeep loaded with explosives. It crashes off a cliff and explodes.

 

But not before James pulls the cord on his backup parachute and escapes.

The new James Bond arrives on a yacht with a bored beautiful woman, and we know all is right with the world.

004  The Dirty Job of a Secret Agent

Bond has never liked the idea of simply being a tool to be used in the place his superior sees best. He does not relish the role of assassin, although it does come up on occasion. From the original story by Ian Fleming, Bond has to shoot a sniper that is trying to kill a defector the British want.

The head of the station seems to be a prig who views him as a thug, and doesn’t want to trust 007 at all.

Bond spots the snipe but recognizes she is an amateur, not a professional killer. As an admirer of the feminine form and a man who doesn’t kill for no reason, he makes a snap decision.

He shoots to miss.

005  SMERSH

The name has not been mentioned by the film series since “From Russia with Love” and it was on;ly mentioned in passing there. The name is a contraction of “Smiert Spionam”, meaning “Death to Spies”. It was the main organization that Bond faced in the novels but was replaced in the films by the non-aligned SPECTRE.  As a plot point, to provoke the British into acting, the Organization is revived.

The death of two British intelligence agents is laid at the foot of General Pushkin, played by John Rhys-Davies  (From Indian Jones and The Lord of the Rings).

 Bond knows better and the plot thickens when he refuses to go along with his orders. Again, he refuses to be a mere assassin.

006  More Amazing Air Stunts from the Bond Team

Near the end of the film, Bond has taken control of a giant C-130 plane, transporting the opium out of Afghanistan. Koskov’s assassin Necros has gotten on board and as a bomb is ticking, the cargo bay door opens and a great fight stunt is done in mid-air (and on a sound-stage)

Another tour de force for the James Bond Stunt Team.

007  James Bond is not the only proficient agent in MI-6.

When Necros infiltrates the safe house to “kidnap” Koskov, he encounters another MI-6 agent in the kitchen of the manor house. There is a terrific fight that James Bond has nothing to do with, but one of his colleagues, a nameless agent keeping watch,  performs above the call of duty, although he ultimately fails to keep Koskov out of Necros’ hands.

It is a terrific fight sequence, and one of my favorite moments because all the other agents are not just bodies to tumble when the shooting starts.

James Bond Will Return in:

 “License to Kill”

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