Tuesday, 10 November 2015

007 - The Living Daylights

Roger Moore's ghost haunts The Living Daylights. The most ubiquitous Bond actor mutated the series, changing it from a succession of doomsday thrillers into light-hearted romps full of knowing winks and outrageous action. 007 was altered at a chemical level to better serve Moore's strengths and weaknesses. His charmless Bond was tidied away from the action, infrequently called upon to deliver his patented Simon Templar sneer in tension shattering close-up.

Still, the formula worked. Budgets and box office soared under Moore's tenure, so even though John Glen has Shakespearean actor Timothy Dalton at his disposal, he's reluctant to really shake things up. Thankfully Dalton isn't content to tread the same water, he's here to work. The actor could sleepwalk through the role, pull a face and collect his cheque. Instead he invests his Bond with real steel, an impatient professional surrounded by suits and amateurs. Dalton's 007 skews tender when he has room to breath, violent and terrifying if cornered. Over and over Dalton stresses an idea of calculation and intelligence.

Dalton is so good he manages to spin the same dreadful old quips into frustrated, sardonic asides. He's got a great look too - roomy suits, eyes ringed by darkness, hair perfectly coiffed and sprayed, like a Paul Gulacy drawing of Dracula. Dalton's biggest obstacle to success is Glen. Although a dab hand with action, the director finds himself a bit lost when called upon to arrange dramatic moments. Glen abandons Dalton to large, airy rooms, projecting to nothing. Crucial moments in which Bond browbeats Art Malik's Osama bin Laden stand-in are distorted in the edit too, Dalton's agitated bullet point speech left to die by dead air and terminally late cuts.

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