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The Living Daylights video sleeve graphic The Living Daylights

Starring Timothy Dalton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The Living Daylights is the first of Timothy Dalton's James Bond films. Rather like the last Roger Moore Bond film, A View to a Kill, this movie features a new view of the Soviet Union and what consists the real threat to the Free World. Yet again the Soviet government is portrayed as a reasonable, stable organization that wants to maintain the balance of power between East and West because that is in its own best interest. Yet again the real threat comes from independent agencies that formerly served the struggles of the Cold War but have now grown ambitious for personal power.

When the movie begins, Bond is helping a leading KGB officer to defect to the West. The KGB officer claims that his superior, Pushkin, has grown increasingly power-hungry over time. But as the movie proceeds, it appears that Pushkin is actually becoming more and more menacing because he's gotten himself in over his head in secret deals with a sinister American expatrate arms dealer.

Bond must unravel this tangled web of deceit which will lead him to Afghanistan, where he helps liberate a Muhajaddin leader and ride on a raid against the Soviet occupation, then return to confront the American, who fancies himself a military genius but was actually expelled from West Point for cheating and never served in any responsible capacity in any military force worth mentioning. During the course of this Bond meets up with Felix Leiter, a CIA operative who is also monitoring this arms dealer because the Pentagon has gotten concerned about his activities.

It is interesting to contrast Leiter's cosmopolitain accent with the villain's strong Southern accent which seems to equate Southernness with being a redneck and somehow dangerous. However in the end the villain meets his undoing when Bond knocks a bust of the Duke of Wellington onto him, moments after the villain had expressed his contempt for Wellington as a "vulture."

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Review posted December 16, 1998

Updated March 30, 2001

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