30. August 2013 05:39
The Living Daylights was one of my favorite Bond films, arriving shortly before my 13th Birthday. For me it had all the elements from the best James Bond movies: A gadget laden Aston Martin, plenty of action, a beautiful Bond Girl and a plot that was easy to follow and actually made sense (unlike the plot in say, The World Is Not Enough).
However, Siskel & Ebert were not so easily impressed, giving the film "two thumbs down". Roger Ebert felt that Timothy Dalton played it too straight, remarking that although Dalton is a "good actor, he is very convincing during the films more serious moments, he has a great screen presence, he looks interesting, but if he has a weakness it's the comic side of the character."
This was a common criticism at that time. After a decade of Roger Moore's very tongue in cheek 007 not taking any of it too seriously, Timothy Dalton looked to the literary Bond for his inspiration. Unlike his on screen counterpart, Fleming's Bond didn't really have a comic side, rather like Daniel Craig's Bond today, but perhaps while Casino Royale was launched as a very definite "reboot" of the series - not only was it a new actor, but also it was based on the first Flaming novel, and the traditional elements of a James Bond film such as the opening Gun Barrel Sequence were changed considerably alerting audiences right from the start that this was not just another James Bond film. The Living Daylights, on the other hand, was expected to be more of a continuation, picking up where Moore left it, and it is these expectations that no doubt led to this criticism.
Ebert was also unimpressed by Bond Girl Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo). Overall, he says that The Living Daylights "has great stunts, it has good special effects, it has a Bond who needs to work on his sense of humor and it has a Bond Girl who is not in the great tradtion" of Maud Adams' Octopussy, Ursula Andress' Honey Ryder or Honor Blackman's Pussy Galore.
Gene Siskel is less impressed by Dalton than Roger Ebert "He's better than Roger Moore, but coming from me that's not much of a compliment." He doesn't find the Bond girl very appealing, and he feels that all of the stunts that work in the film are updated versions of things they did before, such as the Aston Martin with lasers instead of spinning tire slashers, the bulletproof glass instead of rear shield, missiles instead of machine guns, etc. That doesn't bother me at all, it makes sense that these gadgets would have been upgraded with new technology and I like the way it deliberately reminds us of the Goldfinger Aston. In my mind these clever little winks at the past help to tie the series together.
It is interesting to note that Siskel does mention here that he thinks Pierce Brosnan "might make a better Bond - he has more of a verve for life". However, In 1995 when they reviewed Goldeneye, Siskel remarked that Brosnan didn't make an interesting a Bond and that "Frankly, Roger Moore has a more commanding physical presence than this guy." Ouch. You can watch the entire GoldenEye review on YouTube, uploaded by our friends at The GoldenEye Dossier.
In Siskel's mind, Sean Connery would always personify James Bond and nobody does it better.
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This episode of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies was recorded on July 22nd 1987 and aired the week of August 1st 1987. Watch more Siskel & Ebert at http://siskelandebert.org
Siskel & Ebert at the Movies 1983 James Bond Special