It was widely known that Pierce Brosnan was the producers preferred choice to replace Roger Moore, so the announcement that Timothy Dalton was to take up the Walther PPK came as something of a shock to Bond fans. Dalton had previously been approached in 1968 to replace Sean Connery but had turned the part down feeling that he was too young. He brought a seriousness and intensity to the role that had been notably absent from Moore’s tenure and rapidly became popular with fans and critics alike.
Bond is assisting in the defection of a KGB informer when he becomes involved with Kara Milovy, a sniper sent to kill the traitor. He discovers that the KGB have revived “Smiert Spionen” (death to spies) by General Pushkin who sends an agent to recapture the defector and is sent to kill Pushkin. During his mission he discovers that Milovy is in fact not an assassin and that she was the girlfriend of the defector, leading him to believe that the defection was a set up. He interrogates Pushkin and discovers that in fact, the general is investigating the defector, Koskov and this connections to arms dealer Brad Whitaker. They join forces and, with Kara by his side, Bond travels to Afghanistan where he enlists the help of the Mujahideen to storm the Soviet air base where Whitaker is making a deal. Bond kills Whitaker and Pushkin arrests Koskov.
John Glen’s team went on location to Malta, Morocco, Vienna and Austria in 1986 to film the movie, returning to the ever ready 007 stage at Pinewood and Norwegian pop group A-ha provided the theme song under John Barry’s direction.
Maryam D’Abo played cellist Kara Milovy with verve and talent, making her feisty and believable foil for Bond, Joe Don Baker was fabulously greedy as the gun obsessed Whitaker and the extraordinary Julie T. Wallace gave a memorable if brief turn as Rosika Miklos, Bond’s contact in Czechoslovakia who helps with Koskov’s escape down a pipeline. Felix Lieter underwent another identity change, played now by John Terry and both John Rhys Davis as Pushkin and Art Malik as the cultured leader of the Mujahideen gave memorable performances, enjoying every minute of their screen time, but the greatest plaudits have to go to Dalton. His Bond is raw, violent and edgy, light years away from Moore’s “raised eyebrow of death” and for the first time since Connery, the viewer can really believe that this man is a killer. He handles the lighter moments with equal skill and proves more than capable of handling the action scenes, of which there are many. Dalton isn’t afraid to show the darker side of Bond and fans adored him for bringing what many considered to be the closest interpretation yet of the original Fleming character.
After the artistic failure of “View to a kill”, “The Living Daylights” and Dalton’s interpretation are a breath of fresh air, hugely enjoyable, tense and fast paced. Just as a Bond film should be!