I grow increasingly tired of people’s abject dislike of Timothy Dalton as James Bond. In his inaugural outing in The Living Daylights, I feel that Dalton was a breath of fresh air—and offered the world a close-to-perfect interpretation of Fleming’s flagship character. Not to say that all opinions aren’t welcome. I am not overwhelmed by George Lazenby’s 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, yet I don’t make disparaging remarks about his portrayal. I’m just bummed when OHMSS comes on during a Bond marathon. It’s like when you’re watching The Three Stooges for Curly—but you get Shemp…or Curly Joe.
Due to the fact that it was played on Showtime so often between 1988-98, The Living Daylights became my favorite film in the 007 oeuvre. Here’s why:
1. The a-ha title song
Norwegian ‘80s pop band a-ha, fresh off of the success of their smash hit Take On Me, deliver a synth- and-horn-fueled theme that gets you pumped up during the title sequence and lays the groundwork for musical cues peppered into John Barry’s orchestral score.
2. The Pretenders also contribute to the soundtrack
They have two tunes in the film, the romantic interlude “If There Was a Man” and the rockin’ “Where Has Everybody Gone?”—which is underlaid to a pivotal breach in MI6 security by the baddies
3. It’s John Barry’s final 007 score
Aside from Monty Norman, who wrote the main Bond theme, John Barry is the composer/orchestrator who musically made Bond SOUND like Bond. Barry would also collaborate with the artists of the day who performed the title theme songs, to amalgamate the recognizable 007 horns and strings into their arrangements. TLD was the end of an era for the music of the franchise.
4. Dalton is the closest Bond to Ian Fleming’s written word
I am of the opinion that the less wise-crackey, more stoic and dry 007 from the books is best personified in Dalton’s interpretation of the character. Bond in TLD just seems like a cold, calculating spy with a license to kill from Her Majesty’s government. When he does deliver the script’s quips, they’re done with a crisp sense of purpose—rather than a cartoony delivery for comedy’s sake found in the Moore-era films
5. Bond is once again rolling in an Aston Martin
With a nod to the Goldfinger era, 007 is equipped with an Aston Martin—the V8 Volante. Per the vehicle’s Wikipedia entry:
At the beginning of the film, the car is a V8 Volante (convertible). The car used in these scenes was a Volante owned by Aston Martin Lagonda chairman, Victor Gauntlett. Later, the car is fitted with a hardtop (“winterised”) at Q Branch, and these scenes feature a pair of non-Vantage V8 saloons, fitted with the same number plate as the initial car, but with Vantage badges now fitted to match the previous Vantage.
The alterations and gadgets featured were:
- Tire Spikes
- Jet engine behind rear number plate
- Retractable outriggers
- Heat-seeking missiles behind fog lights
- Lasers in front wheel hubcaps
- Bulletproof windows
- Fireproof body
- Self-destruct system
I must admit that Daniel Craig is doing an excellent job of keeping the character fresh and interesting for the 2000s. Casino Royale and Skyfall are great espionage-related popcorn thrill rides. Quantum of Solace, conversely, is to be avoided at all costs.
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