Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Living Daylights | Review

Instead of doing something worthwhile in November, like NaNoWriMo (which I forgot about again this year, and I probably am no way near organised enough to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days anyway), I'm watching Bond! Last night, Halloween, or to all those who think it's pointless, October 31st, I watched The Living Daylights, in full, for the first time ever. I'd seen bits of it before. Bits of the ending, bits of the beginning, bits of the bit in the mansion with the bloke strangling people with his headphones, but not the whole thing as one coherent piece. I can't say I followed it completely, and I wasn't concentrating that much near the beginning, but I concentrated more as it went along, and have certainly got opinions on it.

I can't really comment on the plot, 'cos I only roughly followed it. I get the reason the opium's being sold, I get the idea about the defection, and I get lose ideas - but it's tricky to gel them in my head. That's more of a problem because it means one - this Bond film actually requires me to concentrate on it and two - it's a Bond film reliant on the plot and the characters. From what I can gather, the plot isn't anything exciting or special. There's no world domination, just arms-buying from opium-selling, which is probably more suited to a Bond book than an all action Bond film. It does feel, in many ways, as I imagine an original novel will feel. Timothy Dalton plays a slightly more determined Bond, with less quips and jokes, and the plot isn't melodramatic, it feels very real.

So yeah - this is another one of those character driven plots. It's less character driven than something like OHMSS (which remains my favourite because it balances melodrama and character), and Casino Royale, but it's still based around Bond's relationship with Kara, and her discovering that her previous boyfriend is basically the bad guy. Along with this there's war and diamonds and things - but it boils down to just being about the characters. Dalton is fantastic. He's a very, very serious Bond and any jokes he makes are first of all minimal, and secondly done seriously so they don't always work. But they don't need to - he's a serious Bond, and quite rightly he states that he's driven on instincts. His relationship with Kara is completely believable, and it echoes the relationship between Bond and Vesper in Casino Royale. Though Kara isn't nearly as dynamic as Vesper is, and she can be... a bit pathetic on occasion, the simple fact is that she admires and probably loves Bond, and he feels that for her. I read a review of this somewhere complaining that there was only one Bond girl - and that's exactly how it should be, I feel. If you can make the relationship between, in this case Bond and Kara, believable then you don't need thousands of Bond girls. Bond/Kara both work brilliantly together.

The supporting cast are less great. The enemies aren't really that engaging or interesting at any times, and the only villain who is vaguely good is Necros, who manages to perfect the role of killer-you-wouldn't-expect. Of course this is a Bond film - so if you see a random tall man jogging, of course he's going to be an enemy. But there isn't much there for the other characters to use. Georgi Koskov is ok, he's acted well, but again, his character isn't much of a villain. You can like the characters, when they're pretending to be good, or dislike them, but it never goes much further than that. They aren't as evil as they could be. The new Miss Moneypenny just doesn't work for me, she's too... normal. But Q, as always, gives a good performance.

The thing I enjoyed most about The Living Daylights (which, sorry Bond fans, I still think is a rubbish title for a book or a film), apart from the Bond/Kara thing being slightly more indepth than other Bond/Bond girl relationships, were the action sequences. The start was fairly normal, but the car chase across the ice and the end where men on horseback attack trucks and chase planes, and then cars drive onto planes and Bond and Necros hang from mid air, barely clinging onto a net full of opium packages, were really really good. Thoroughly enjoyed them.

So The Living Daylights is a good film. It's not exciting enough to be one of my favourites, as I have a soft spot for others, particularly Moore and Connery ones, that I grew up with. The Living Daylights needs more of a plot. It has the action, but it feels a little out of place in a plot that's fairly standard and uneventful, and if the plot was a bit more... exciting, or even melodramatic, then it would've worked alongside the characters and alongside the action that was there. The plot, and the unexciting enemies that it creates, aren't really good enough - but there are moments to be treasured in this film. It is just a shame they can't be accompanied by better.

I'm moving onto Licence to Kill next, before I rewatch Quantum of Solace and then see Skyfall on Saturday.

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