Two years after Roger Moore's swansong, Timothy Dalton, possessing Sean Connery's bravado and cutthroat attitude, made his Bond debut in 1987's The Living Daylights. In only one try, Dalton hit his stride as the quintessential English gentleman secret agent with a license to kill and he had displayed tremendous potential to be a staple like Connery and Moore. Sadly, Dalton became a short-timer like George Lazenby when he simply stepped down and Brosnan had taken the torch and hasn't let go ever since. However, Dalton makes the most of his tenure in The Living Daylights, making this particular energetic Bond flick as one of the best, yet most underrated 80's Bond movie.
The plot has some twists and turns and excellently written and excellently executed. After a riveting, no-holds-barred opening sequence where his fellow double agents were murdered, Bond sets out to free a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe), a defector who unravels a top-secret Soviet plot called Operation Smiert Spionem, of whom his superior General Leonid Puskin (John Rhys-Davies) had devised. Koskov is abducted, but it turns out to be nothing but a doublecross, as it turns out he is aligned with an American arms dealer, Brad Whitaker, who wants in on Smiert Spionem, to eliminate all enemy spies including 007. Hot on their trail, Bond tags along with Koskov's Slovakian cellist girlfriend, Kara Milovy (Maryam D'Abo from TV sitcom, The Wonder Years) and together, they unravel a sophisticated weapons plot.
The Living Daylights is a strong, bold entry in the Bond series. The only true weak points are the two villains, Koskov and Whitaker. However, this film revolves around Dalton and his superb performance more than makes up for it. Dalton is true to form of to the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels, as he is uncompromising, bold, serious, ruthless and he shows a darker side to Bond, more so than Connery ever could. As professional and instinctive as he plays himself out to be, Dalton shows his softer, romantic side, paired up with Kara Milovy. Speaking of which, Maryam D'Abo is a refreshing Bond girl as well, as she does not display the toughness and or independence previous Bond girls have and in that regard, she's somewhat of an antithesis to the typical Bond girl. D'Abo, nonetheless turns in the strongest acting performance of a Bond girl. As for the storyline, it is sensible, but sophisticated and you could say the oversophistication of the plot is a flaw to the flick. But the first-rate pulse-pounding action supports the well-thought script. Noteworthy sequences are the botched Gibraltar training pre-title scene, the Austrian ski chase, and the Afghan desert battle. All in all, The Living Daylights stands out as Dalton's moment in the sun.