Bond-a-Thond #15: ‘The Living Daylights’ (1987)

MTV Movies Blog is earning its license to kill with a feature we call the Bond-a-Thond. Every Wednesday we’re taking a look back at a single (official) Bond film, giving you the vitals and seeing how it holds up, right up until the release of “Skyfall” on November 9. Feel free to watch along with us and share your thoughts or just kick back and enjoy the Bond.

The Living Daylights (1987)

Plot: Bond must uncover the mystery behind a defecting Soviet general and the beautiful woman apparently hired to assassinate him.

Title Meaning: As in “scared the living daylights out of her.” It’s spoken once, but has no other connection to the story.

Song: “The Living Daylights” by a-ha

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Bond: Timothy Dalton, in his first appearance as Bond

Villain: Brad Whitaker, an arms dealer to the Soviets, played by Joe Don Baker, and Georgi Koskov, a defecting Soviet general, played by Jereon Krabbé

Bond Girl: Kara Milovy, a concert cellist, played by Maryam d’Abo

“Bond, James Bond” Occurrences: 1

Martinis: 3

Card Games: 0

Cigarettes Smoked: 0

Explosions: 30

Tuxes Worn: 2

Kills By Bond: 3

Most Creative Kill: During a climactic battle, Bond and Whitaker’s main henchman hang out the back of a military aircraft. At one point, all the henchman is holding onto is Bond’s boot, so 007 cuts his shoelaces with a knife. “He got the boot.”

Gadgets: A rocket launcher hidden inside a boombox, called the “ghetto blaster,” a key chain, equipped with knock-out gas and explosives

Mental State of Miss Moneypenny: Refreshed

First Occurrence of Sex: 7 minutes in

Sexual Partners: 2 (Anonymous woman from opening, Kara Milovy)

Most Unrealistic Moments: During the finale, Bond is escaping in an airplane, with the bad guys pursuing him in a jeep. Bond narrowly misses crashing into a smaller plane, which hits his pursuers. The main henchman jumps from the jeep to save himself, but is somehow able to get onto Bond’s plane.

Most “Bond” Moments: Immediately after driving a jeep out of a moving plane, Bond quips,”I know a great restaurant in Karachi.”

Place in Bond History: “The Living Daylights” was Timothy Dalton’s first film as James Bond and a decidedly more serious movie after the silliness of the Roger Moore era.

If you haven’t seen a Timothy Dalton Bond movie, you’ve still probably been subjected to claims that he is the worst actor to have played Agent 007, but sitting down to actually watch either “The Living Daylights” or “License to Kill,” you’ll probably just end up waiting. Nothing obvious will hit you right away, and you’ll sit there waiting for something to help you make the connection between Dalton and his less than sterling reputation.

That’s because there isn’t a moment where you can make that connection, but there’s also not much to make Dalton a memorable Bond actor. His 007 doesn’t distinguish himself in any other way than that he’s a more serious Bond than Moore, but that isn’t saying much. Instead, what we get is the seeds of a Bond archetype that would finally bloom by the time Daniel Craig took up the role. We believe Dalton’s Bond is capable, but the humor is missing, an essential element, even if it’s as dry as Craig’s.

Otherwise, “The Living Daylights” is an underrated entry from a relatively underrated Bond and definitely worth seeking out.

The Bond-a-Thond will return next week in “License to Kill.”

What do you think of “The Living Daylights”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!