Ian’s Bond Education: Part 5
The Living Daylights
I’ve made it to the Dalton era! I must say I like Timothy Dalton as Bond a lot more than Roger Moore. He’s less smarmy than Moore was. He’s more suave, though I have to say he does lack some charisma. I guess that’s why he only lasted two films?
Living Daylights was alright, but its the 15th film in a franchise and it feels like the 15th film in a franchise. There’s nothing new or fresh anymore. So its really just about fun spy stories and sequences. We start with a training sequence going wrong in Gibraltar, move on to helping a defecting general past the iron curtain, and somehow end up in the Afghanistan conflict. Nothing was exceptional, except maybe the ski car (once again we have an action scene on a ski hill), and the line “he got the boot”. The Afghan stuff wasn’t too interesting, and I didn’t understand how the girl fit into everything.
License to Kill
Timothy Dalton’s second and final effort as Bond sees him going renegade to catch the man who attacked his friend Felix Leiter. Leiter has his legs bitten off by a shark. I mean, that’s pretty insane, especially for a recurring character. Does he ever come back into the series until the reset with Casino Royale? And if so, does he have prosthetic legs now?
So Bond hunts down international drug cartel leader Sanchez. My first thought was, a drug dealer, really? How boring. But I guess this was the 80’s so they were the in vogue villains at the time. This movie offers us some interesting stuff, like a very young and skinny Benicio Del Toro and a scene were a guy’s head explodes. And blackjack. Love the classic casino scenes.
At first this movie seemed like the same mundane ridiculousness that I had seen from the last 5 or so Bond films, but in the second half it really toned itself down and became a more subdued Bond story. And if you remember previous ramblings, I prefer the more subdued stuff, so I sunk into this film quite nicely and ended up enjoying it.
With Goldeneye, Bond producers decided to take a different approach and adapt the popular video game into a film. And it works, providing a strong first entry for Pierce Brosnan as 007. Goldeneye is a solid 90’s action movie and works as a new age bond thriller. I honestly didn’t pay much attention to the plot, but I believe the gist is that former soviets are trying to control a space missile system thanks to, of course, hackers! (It was the 90s after all)
I’m sure the plot is fine. But what really works here is the tone of the movie. Its just the right level of seriousness and goofiness, and the action scenes actually kept my interest (most of the time). The opening scene on the hydro dam feels stealthy. The car chase with the tank is good because, hey, at least it has a tank. The climactic fight is…. a problem. Sigh. It was pretty much telegraphed how the end would play out. So bloody cliche and uninteresting, I really wish they could have capped off an overall good action flick with an interesting action climax. C’est la vie.
A lot of the credit for the tone needs to go to Brosnan himself. He certainly has a presence as Bond. The villains are also fun, especially Sean Bean. I also like how a lot of the Bond staples are there: the secret lair, the casino scenes, a playful race on a cliffside road. But they are all a little bit modernized so as to be less banal.
I did have to laugh at some terrible movie cliche’s thrown in for good measure, like how Sean Bean wont just shoot Bond, he stands there with the gun pointed at him long enough for Bond to get out of it. Or how when Bond gives the girl a gun and says do you know how to use this? Of course she can’t just say yes, she has to answer by reloaded the magazine and resetting the chamber.
Goldeneye: one of the better Bonds.