THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (United Artists, 1987)

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


★★★ The fifteenth James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli. US release date: July 31, 1987. Budget: $40 million. Worldwide box office gross: $191.2 million (US gross: $51.2 million; international gross: $140.0 million).[1] Running time: 131 minutes.

The Setup

Russian KGB general Georgi Koskov (KRABBÉ, JEROEN) wants to defect to the West, and James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is sent to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, to grease the wheels. Thanks to 007, Koskov’s escape from a concert hall succeeds. Bond also shoots the sniper’s rifle out of the hands of Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), a beautiful cellist, who not only is protecting Koskov but is also his lover. In London, Koskov tells British intelligence that the KGB’s General Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) has invoked “Smiert Spionam,” a plan to assassinate foreign spies, and advises that Pushkin be assassinated instead. In reality, this is all phony as a three-dollar bill. Koskov is working with arms trader Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) to take $50 million in Russian funds earmarked for an arms purchase and use them for a giant drug deal.

Behind the Scenes

Cheers for Timothy Dalton, who makes a stunning debut as James Bond in The Living Daylights! For those of us who grew up on Sean Connery’s interpretation of 007, the Roger Moore era was a disappointment, largely because the films were just too jokey, the action sequences were not believable, and somehow Roger was just too nice to play a secret agent with a license to kill. Timothy Dalton brought back the danger in Bond. You’re never quite sure what he’s going to do, and that makes his character intriguing. Dalton was a last-minute replacement after first choice Pierce Brosnan couldn’t get out of his contract with the NBC series Remington Steele. The Living Daylights is also a very romantic film, thanks to the casting of Maryam d’Abo, who makes a very fetching Kara Milovy.

Unfortunately, the problem with the film is its lack of strong villains. As General Koskov, Jeroen Krabbé is too lovable to be dangerous—he hugs practically everyone he meets. Although Russians are stereotyped as being very demonstrative, the hugging begins to obscure the fact that Koskov is supposed to be a villainous drug trader. Brad Whitaker, meanwhile, is denied enough screen time to develop any true malice; he’s an arms dealer who likes to play with toy soldiers. The only truly villainous character in the film is Koskov’s henchman Necros, played effectively by Andreas Wisniewski, but he’s also not on screen long enough to have any real impact. The result is that there’s no real villain, at least not the kind you love to hate like Goldfinger or Blofeld.

The plot, meanwhile is another throwaway that would take an MIT graduate to figure out. Just as you’re starting to figure out why Koskov and Whitaker are partners, the plot switches to a big drug deal in Afghanistan—talk about sharp left turns. But there are other highlights: the great teaser on Gibraltar, John Barry’s warmly romantic music score, Art Malik’s Kamran Shah, and Caroline Bliss’s new Moneypenny.

 

The Cast
Role
Actor/Actress
James Bond Timothy Dalton
Kara Milovy Maryam d’Abo
General Georgi Koskov Jeroen Krabbé
Brad Whitaker Joe Don Baker
General Leonid Pushkin John Rhys-Davies
Kamran Shah Art Malik
Necros Andreas Wisniewski
Saunders Thomas Wheatley
Q Desmond Llewelyn
M Robert Brown
Minister of Defense Geoffrey Keen
General Gogol Walter Gotell
Miss Moneypenny Caroline Bliss
Felix Leiter John Terry
Rubavitch Virginia Hey
Colonel Feyador John Bowe
Rosika Miklos Julie T. Wallace
Linda Kell Tyler
Chief of Security, Tangier Nadim Sawalha
Chief of the Snow Leopard Brotherhood Tony Cyrus

The Crew
Role
Crew Member
Director John Glen
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum
Michael G. Wilson
Producers Albert R. Broccoli
Michael G. Wilson
Associate Producers Tom Pevsner
Barbara Broccoli
Director of Photography Alec Mills
Music by John Barry
Title song performed by a-ha
Production Designer Peter Lamont
Second-Unit Direction and Photography Arthur Wooster
Action Sequence Supervisor Paul Weston
Vehicle Stunt Coordinator Remy Julienne
Title Designer Maurice Binder
Special Effects Supervisor John Richardson
Editors John Grover
Peter Davies


[1] “The Living Daylights (1987),” The Numbers, accessed June 8, 2020, https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Living-Daylights-The.