18 June 2008

What "The Living Daylights" Was That?

I would like to start this review by asking a question to those who voted for this film: What were you thinking? Seriously I want to know. So many good 007 films to choose from and THIS won? Most people acknowledge this as one of the worst Bond films, and now I can officially agree. As soon as it was over I had to watch Thunderball to remind me that James Bond movies are actually enjoyable. Anyway, let's get through this.

The Living Daylights stars Timothy Dalton as James Bond. James Bond helps Russian General Koskov defect to Britain. Once there he is recaptured by what looks like the Russians, but it is a ruse so that he can team up with Mitchell. More on that later. Meanwhile, British agents are being killed with messages pointing to the KGB. But it's not them. It's General Koskov and Brad Whittaker, an arms dealer, who are trying to get the US and Russia to go to war with one another. All so that they can smuggle diamonds out of the country and use them to buy drugs in Afghanistan. It's just easier to do that sort of thing during a World War I guess. James Bond figures it out with the help of General Koskov's old girlfriend. Together they foil the plan and help those brave Afghan Taliban defeat the forces of Koskov and Whittaker. That's basically it, I'm sorry to say.

Poor Timothy Dalton. I actually like him. Pretty good in Flash Gordon and I think he could have been a decent Bond. Well maybe. Problem for him is that this script was written for Pierce Brosnan who was stuck in his Remington Steele contract. Dalton isn't great with the one-liners and it's painful to watch. 

This film also suffers from what I call Ladyhawk Syndrome. Let me explain. Ladyhawk is a good story, decent actors (Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pheiffer both faves of mine) and plenty of action etc. But there is a terrible 80s synth soundtrack that is present throughout the entire film. Who ever thought that the Dark Ages and the keyboards from Strange Brew would be a good match? So same problem here with Living Daylights. Terrible synth soundtrack. I'm not talking about the theme song written by a-Ha. It was OK. Not nearly as good as A View to a Kill by Duran Duran but not bad. It was the constant really early depeche mode sounding stuff throughout the action sequences. The opening credits were also pure 80s and equally terrible. Now don't get me wrong, I like 80s films. But this is a James Bond film, not an 80s film. I thought, well I can look past that if the story is good. And it started out just fine. Then it all collapsed as the evil plot unfolded.

The evil plot is so subpar in this film. World domination shmorld domination! Who needs that when you can just buy cheap drugs and sell them for profit? What kind of weak James Bond plot is that? When I figured out that was what they were really after I wanted to put the dvd in the microwave. But Blockbuster might not have liked that.

Now let me get to one of the few redeeming aspects of this film: Mitchell. 

By that I mean Joe Don Baker playing the part of Whittaker. Everytime I saw him all I could think about was him grabbing a 6 pack of beer with his toe, or asking for some more butter on his gravy. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Joe Don Baker was in a film called Mitchell. He plays the worst cop ever. It is one of the funniest not-supposed-to-be-funny movies I have ever seen. Right up there with L'Uomo Puma(Puma Man)! I highly recommend you watch the MST3K version of it. It has the most intense car chase ever with HOT MERGING ACTION! So I did enjoy that. But that's about it. I'm sure I'm being too critical, so tell me what else I should have liked about this film.

Alright on to July. The category of the month as suggested from Jon Madsen is: "Westerns or Tron". So you can either suggest your favorite Western or you can suggest Tron. I think that's a good American category for the month of July. I hope to see a good ballance of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen and Tron movies. My suggestion is A Fistful of Dollars. Tell me what Western or Tron movie you want in the poll and I'll put it up on July 1st.


The Snows said...

magnificent seven

Carl Sticht said...

Wow, you were pretty harsh on Timothy Dalton. That's so mean. Sorry you didn't enjoy the film more. I love John Barry's soundtrack. It obviously doesn't play well to the Millenial crowd for first timers. I do love all the stuntwork in the film. Nothing beats real stuntmen doing real stunts.

For next month, my bid is Open Range. I think it's pretty much the perfect balance of a carefully crafted script coupled with the action-packed climax. My big problem is the falling action, but I still rate it as a 9/10. I might have to break it out soon.

Anyway, my condolences on the Living Daylights. It can't be everyone's cup of tea I guess.

Swint said...

the best western ever is Tombstone. Ok, maybe not ever, but since old school westerns are boring, I stick with the new school (although, pretty well all other newer westerns lick, although I heard 3:10 to Yuma was pretty good, blasted R rating!!)

Maria said...

Finished this movie last night, but started it two days ago. I fell asleep about twenty minutes into the movie and starting falling asleep the last twenty minutes of the movie. The last chase scene was the most boring I have ever watched. I must say, the synth was the only enjoyable part for me...

Let's just get it over with and watch Tron. He won't stop until it happens.

Maker said...

Tron. Fully.

Dalton is a girl.

joN. said...

first of all, let me say that ladyhawke's soundtrack is awesome! of course when i saw the movie originally, i thought it actually took place on another planet.

ok, on to the living daylights... MITCHELL!

perhaps the synth didn't work because it wasn't overt enough.

that guy who played the bad blond spy? what's the deal with his kicks? he kicks like a ballerina.

i do feel a bit bad for dalton since it seems like he's so out of place here. apparently early elements of the script were written for roger moore as well as for brosnan. dalton just can't be cute and funny. the next movie, license to kill, apparently was tailor-made for dalton and his brooding darkness(and was the first to be rated pg-13).


it would have been nice to have more bond girls. i'm not saying it needed more sex, it just needed more girls, both good and sinister. there was really only one, right? and she was even stiffer than dalton. i need to say here that i was mistaken about her credentials. i thought it was the same girl who played kevin's older sister karen in the wonder years, but that girl is olivia d'Abo, not maryam d'Abo from this bond film. there is somewhat of a resemblance because they're first cousins.

anyhoo, this one in a nutshell just isn't as solid. bland bond, not many girls, not many big fights -- where's the bond film? there's not much else worth mentMITCHELL!ioning.

my vote for next month is for the man who shot liberty valence, unless we're cool with the r-rating. if we're cool with the r-rating then i definitely suggest el topo.