Groovers & Mobsters event is upon as again and this time it’s all about the world’s most famous super spy. Just a bit of background, this monthly event was started by Heather from Movie Mobsters and Andy from Fandango Groovers where various bloggers join them in exploring a select genre in the only way we know how, talking about our favourite movies. This is the first time I join on the fun, and my pick for the Bond genre (yes I think it’s the only franchise that can double as a genre) is:
THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS
Stuff my orders! I only kill professionals. That girl didn’t know one end of a rifle from the other. Go ahead. Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.
Timothy Dalton made his 007 debut in the 15th Bond film, introduced in one of the most memorable Bond opening sequence of training exercise in the Rock of Gibraltar. Set in the post cold war era, Bond starts his mission by assisting the defection of Russian KGB General Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) who revealed there’s a Soviet plot to kill British spies. Upon the general’s recapture from his hideout, Bond is assigned to kill Koskov’s boss, Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) which leads to a conspiracy involving an American arms dealer (Joe Don Baker).
Though I grew up with Roger Moore as Bond, I love Dalton’s darker and tougher take of the superspy, which was a refreshing change from Moore’s campy and droll portrayal. This is the reluctant agent who ‘trust instincts, not orders’ and he doesn’t always enjoy the assignment he was given. As widely reported, Dalton is a big fan of Ian Fleming’s novels, thus his insistence on remaining true to the author’s vision of the literary character.
I realize TLD isn’t the best Bond movie, what with a weak villain and the least intriguing Bond girl ever. But Dalton more than makes up for it with his sophisticated approach combined with the right amount of danger. This is a guy with a license to kill and he’s got no qualms to use it. But yet he’s not heartless. The scene right after his MI-6 contact Saunders was killed showed Bond displaying a genuine emotion of real grief and seething rage, as he crushed that “Smiert Spionem” balloon with his bare hand. John Rhys-Davies also turns in a compelling and memorable performance as Pushkin, also a nice change from the stodgy General Gogol in the previous installments.
The action sequences are what you’d expect in a Bond movie, and it’s nice to see an actor who look believably bad-ass as Dalton did a lot of his own stunts, including the vigorous stunts in the opening scene as well as the awesome mid-air battle on a cargo airplane. It was fun and exhilarating, and yet not devoid of humor. When his girl Kara asked him what happened, Bond answered matter-of-factly, ‘he got the boot.’ That’s not the only comical one-liners in the movie, though I’m glad the writers didn’t pile them on as they did in Moore’s versions.
All in all, it’s a really underrated film that deserved a second look, especially if you appreciate Casino Royale. As I said here, both Daniel Craig and Dalton epitomized that merciless grit and ruthlessness like no other Bond before them. Clearly, Dalton was way ahead of its time.
Head over to MovieMobsters blog to read the rest of the Bond event.