The simplest reason that I love The Living Daylights is Timothy Dalton’s James Bond. Lending a darker and more serious edge to the secret agent, Dalton’s Bond feels like the rough-around-the-edges Ian Fleming original. But, the excellent script never lets Bond become too unlikable. In short, he’s the perfect medium between the suave, debonair super spy, and the hardened contract killer.
Yet another reason is Maryam d’Abo’s Kara Milovy who is more intelligent and independent than the typical James Bond movie heroine.
There is the action. From its stunning pre-title sequence on the Rock of Gibraltar, to a beautiful car chase which finds Bond and Kara escaping in the Bond franchise’s most unique mode of transportation, to a foot chase on the rooftops of Tangier, to an aerial battle aboard a plane, The Living Daylights boasts some of the series’ best set-pieces.
There is the intrigue. The Living Daylights is surely one of the most complex Bond films ever made and puts the viewer in the same position as Bond as he accumulates clues to put together the pieces of a very intricate puzzle.
There’s the music. The title song by a-Ha is incredibly catchy and John Barry’s score is stunning.
There’s the car – the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Above all, however, The Living Daylights feels like a return to form. After, perhaps, one too many (admittedly fun) world domination plots, The Living Daylights feels like an intelligent Cold War thriller. While it may be heresy to say so, the earliest Sean Connery Bond films do feel a bit dated today. The Living Daylights feels like the closest thing to those originals, combining their suspenseful sensibility with the modern aesthetic. Though it’s clearly a piece from the ‘80s, The Living Daylights may be one of the most timeless Bond films of them all.