Say Cello to the New Bond
In many ways Timothy Dalton suffered the same issues as George Lazenby when he took on the role of James Bond in "The Living Daylights" because he followed someone who had truly put their mark on the character, whether you like how Roger Moore played Bond is inconsequential. And whilst Dalton's take on James Bond is more of a return to the Connery Bond with less humour and more sex appeal it was sadly rather ordinary, bordering on the dull. But that is not the only dull thing about "The Living Daylights" because the storyline is one of the dullest of the franchise, lacking a really strong bad guy for Bond to battle. And as for the action well it seems to be a case of less but longer and that just adds to the movies dullness. It could have been worse, we could have had Dalton trying to do a Roger Moore but sadly "The Living Daylights" is one of the lesser James Bond movies.
When Russian General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) contacts the British to ask for help with defecting he wants James Bond (Timothy Dalton - Agatha) to help him get out and James certainly does that. But then not long after Koskov is recaptured and James smells something fishy especially when before he is kidnapped Koskov says that General Leonid Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) has turned rogue, something James cannot believe. Pretending to be a friend of Koskov's James tracks down Kara (Maryam d'Abo) his cello playing girlfriend and together go looking for him leading them to Afghanistan and arms dealer Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker - The Natural) where James learns to truth of what has been really going on.
So as already pointed out part of the issues with "The Living Daylights" is the storyline which if it hadn't been used in a Bond movie may have worked elsewhere but for a Bond movie it is dull. The idea is not bad with James Bond on the hunt for a double crossing Russian defector which brings him to an arms dealer who is in cahoots with the Russian but the trouble is that it is uneventful. And I say uneventful because for a lot of the movie we have James and Kara together, supposedly looking for Koskov as James tries to drill Kara for information when in fact all this really is about is James eventually drilling her in a different way, well we are talking about James "Mr. Sex" Bond. Oh there are moments of action and drama but for the most it almost feels like we are watching a romance as James charms Kara.
Part of the trouble is that the motive to why Russian General Koskov is working with arms dealer Brad Whitaker and why he double crossed the British isn't strong enough. Because the motive isn't strong enough they don't come over as being really bad guys, there is no nefarious plans to kill Bond or at least none which capture your attention. And as for their chief henchman, Necros, well whilst he may be good at strangling people with headphone wire he's not really that frightening. I suppose all of this boils down to the fact the bad guys are just not bad enough and almost border on the corny villains which permeated the Bond movie of Roger Moore's reign.
But the issues don't stop there as it also feels like "The Living Daylights" has less action or at least less action scenes because quite frankly when there is action it goes on for an age. The knock on effect of this is there are long periods when there is a distinct shortage of excitement and when the action does roll up it becomes tedious because it goes on too long. It also doesn't help that one of these action sequences, the one involving escaping down a ski slope is as cheesy as anything which happened during Roger Moore's era. And the sad thing is the one really good action scene, involving a mid air battle on a cargo net doesn't actually go on long enough.
Now of course "The Living Daylights" saw Timothy Dalton take on the iconic role of James Bond and whilst Dalton is a very good actor he fails to really make his mark in the first of his two movies. Part of the issue is that the storyline does him little favour but it also seems like Dalton was trying to give us his version of Connery's Bond but with Roger Moore style dialogue and it's not wrong, well it is when it comes to the one liners, but it is really dull. It also doesn't help that neither Jeroen Krabbé as General Georgi Koskov or Joe Don Baker as Brad Whitaker manage to come across as bad guys whilst Maryam d'Abo maybe beautiful as Kara is not sexy.
What this all boils down to is that "The Living Daylights" is probably one of the dullest James Bond movies ever made. From the storyline to the action there is little which is truly exciting about it and because of this Timothy Dalton also ends up coming across quite dull, being more ladies man than deadly agent. Having said that "The Living Daylights" is not a terrible movie, it has its moments which entertain but whilst an average movie it is near the bottom of the list of Bond movies.