Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! Having recharged from my 15-movie James Bond marathon in November, I’ve rallied to finish the series before New Year’s. This time, I’m filled with holiday cheer (mostly booze), so let’s have a little Bond-ing time. This round, it’s Timothy Dalton’s first outing as Bond in The Living Daylights. We’re deep into the 80’s at this point, so I’m looking forward to some wonderful Day-Glo cheese and awesome synth stylings on the soundtrack. We open on a rocky island fortress, where an “exercise in defense” is occurring. M—sounding drunker than ever—gives them the skinny: penetrate this fortress, you 00 numbskulls, and get cracking. However, his papers fly all over the place because he opened the bay door of a plane, in which he also has a complete cozy office setup because he’s British. The dudes dive out of the plane, but some Sneaky Pete is tracking them via binoculars on the ground.
After parachuting to their coordinates, these goofy roofers get on-point, and one is shot immediately with a paintball because I guess he’s new. Another throws his rappel up a cliff and starts to climb where Sneaky Pete is standing. Said sneak gets shot with a paintball because that’s how they do it in spy training(?). So he turns around and just fucking shoots this guy to death with actual bullets. Then he cuts the rappelling 00’s line, which makes him fall to his death. This is why you should always have live ammo on-hand, people! Read my radical far-right blog for more helpful information like this.
Well, Timothy Dalton certainly doesn’t like this sort of foul play and he gets to listen to an orchestral rendition of the “James Bond Theme” as he investigates. Binoculars Pete kills another soldier and tries to book it in a jeep, but Dalton’s Bond is like, fuck this noise. He leaps onto the back of the jeep and hangs on as Sneaky Pete tries to ice him while they drive down a narrow cliff-side mountain road. A soldier fires real ammo into the back of the jeep, which sets fire to the explosive boxes (well, the contents of the boxes are explosive) in the back. Bond’s feet dangle in the fire like they have so many times before, and then he knifes his way through the canvas top of the jeep and starts steering the car from above. One of the boxes of explosives falls out and kabooms on the road.
So it’s a close-quarters, hi-octane fight while they drive down the road with boxes of explosives on fire in the back. So a typical afternoon for Bond. Then they drive off the side of a fucking cliff and—while falling in mid-air in the back of a truck—Bond pulls his backup chute and escapes, leaving Sneaky Pete to explode and kiss the ocean goodbye. His parachute catches on fire and he lands on the top of a cruise ship. An 80’s babe is on the phone saying that she’s goddamn bored in her life of luxury, and Bond pops up and asks if he can borrow her phone. He says the “Bond, James Bond” line to let us know that he’s the new James Bond, and once he gets on the horn says he needs to be rescued within the hour. Babe offers a glass of champagne to him, so he says, “Better make that two hours.” AND THEN IT’S CREDIT SEQUENCE TIME, JERK-O’S!
“Hello, jerk-os? Enjoy the credit sequence. See you in a bit.”
The credit song is predictably 1980’s, and it’s synthy and smooth so I have no complaints. I like it when Bond themes match the era the film is produced in. It sounds like a sub-par David Bowie, but a lot of 80’s pop sounded like that. Even Bowie sounded like a sub-par Bowie back then (RIP). And it turns out A-Ha did the theme song, so that explains that. They should have just used “Take On Me” only shoehorned “The Living Daylights” into the chorus. “Theeeee Liiiii-Viiiiiing (THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS!).” It’s hard to relate music through text.
So we’re at the symphony, where Bond shows up late to the mission. His partner on this caper gives him some guff, but Bond says fuck you dude, seriously, I’m James Bond. He then eyes the gal on the cello while his partner says crikey, Bond, leave the girls alone, we’re working. They go out to the dumpy flat across the street that they’re using as a hideout and it’s like a receptacle of Soviet-era iconography. His partner gives us some exposition about how they’re going to help some Russian general defect and says don’t fuck this up for me, Bond. His partner’s a dick, but as long as Bond’s loading his gun, he doesn’t care about anything, just the sweet promise of murder to come. Anyway, Bond’s supposed to protect this general until they can get him to Defectland.
Bond is holding one of the single largest guns I’ve ever seen while his sissy partner puts on some goofy infrared mask. Back at the symphony, we get some telling shots of the cellist to let us know that she’ll be a part of this adventure while the general ducks out the bathroom window to get to defecting. Bond sees the sniper in a window at the top of the symphony hall, who’s the cellist, and the general runs towards the hideout while Bond biffs the shot because he wants sexy times with the cellist instead of killing her.
“Time to kill this no-good dirty Commie son-of-a….helll-ooo, nurse!”
The cellist leaves all pissed while all of the Russkies lose their shit over having the general slip out of their red grip. His partner sucks as an agent and his plan also sucks, so Bond just takes over the operation because he’s the fucking man while he leaves the chump agent with the giant gun. Bond and the general just zip the fuck out of this clown territory. The general’s all worried while Bond’s like, fuck it, we’re getting out of this wacky Commie City and hauling ass to Freedomtown: Population, You.
They get to some sort of pipeline, where they sneaky-sneak around its facilities. They have escape pods that will shoot through the pipelines, and while the general is a goddamn coward, Bond says quit bitching: even if you die, you’ll die a free man. Well, not really, but whatever: in you go! The Most Soviet Woman Ever lets us know that if the pressure goes over 200 on the dial, the general’s going to be playing Dead Man in A Pipe (The Musical). The Russian woman then goes to seduce the foreman to distract him, which is pretty crazy, while Bond shoots the general away down the pipe. Then after the danger’s done, the Russian woman says never mind and zips back up. That was kind of weird, Bond movie. But at least it was a woman doing the seducing this time? Equal rights? Methinks I’m trying to find something here that’s not here.
We see shots of this crazy pipeline as the capsule with the general zips through it, as indicated by the sound effects, and there’s Q on the other end to retrieve the general. Hey Q! Glad to see you back in action. Bond gets into a car and gets driven away, and in Austria, the general’s tossed into a fighter jet for the second leg of his escape. He takes off in a way I don’t think fighter planes could do back then—that is to say, vertically—and Bond’s being searched at the checkpoint with the incompetent 00 Asshole to see this takeoff. He smugly looks at his idiot partner like, hey your operation would have gotten us all killed, but whatever: it’s still yours. Great job, me. Then this ass still tries to tell Bond he’s going to fuck his career all up while Bond drops the title line in some whatever throwaway dialogue. Come on! The title drop’s one of the things these movies usually do pretty well. Or always done badly. I forget which.
Back at HQ, Q gives a briefing while we meet New Moneypenny. Apparently the cellist assassin has been one for years, using an “explosive teddy” when she was a kid to kill people. Holy smokes! M looks unbelievably old while Dalton looks like a serial killer. And then some crazy-sounding synth rock starts playing. It’s coming from an insane boombox that has a rocket launcher inside of it. Q explains that “It’s something we’re developing for the Americans. It’s called a ghetto blaster.” Man, Q is just getting crazier and crazier with every movie. He runs out of the room to be insane elsewhere while Bond asks Moneypenny to look up this cellist assassin for me dear, would you? She takes off her glasses and says that he can stop by and “listen to my Barry Manilow collection” because she’s totes available and has lame taste in music. But with a small pat on her backside he gets going on his way. Is this the first condescending backside pat since Sean “Man Talk” Connery in Goldfinger?
Moneypenny & Bond: Personifying the concept of workplace sexual harassment since 1962.
A milkman gets strangled in the next scene, which is also pretty bonkers to see, while Bond drives his smooth-looking vehicle up to a lavish estate. The same one that the milkman was just strangled at! The strangler takes the milkman’s place while Bond gets to his super-secret 00 meeting that’s taking place here. He enters and the general’s there, slobbering all over Bond in gratitude. Bond even gives him a little gift basket that includes foie gras, caviar, and champagne because he’s a classy dude. The milkman murderer drives up the entrance while the general tells him that General Pushkin’s why he defected; apparently that dude’s gone nuts-o and he gives this group of secret heroes a paper that lists all of the agents that have been exposed and are now in line for assassination, which includes Bond.
This general gives some setup information while Bond smokes a cigarette out of boredom. Everyone splits while we see the milkman walking up to the kitchen. He strangles the chef with his headphones while radical synth music plays. Another guy walks in halfway through the strangling and calls for backup; so they start fighting. The milkman spy burns this guy’s face on the grill and they fight in close quarters, but this doesn’t involve Bond so what do I care? Anyway, it’s rather bloody for a Bond movie, which I’ve heard is kind of a trademark of the Dalton Bond movies. The milkman then uses explosive milk bottles to fend off agents (explosive milk bottles?), and then he’s on his way to kill the general.
“Explosive milk bottles?”
He takes the general, burns the evidence, takes the cassette that recorded the meeting, grabs a cup of coffee, and they kick rocks out of this place. A chopper starts to land as the milkman spy knocks out the general and takes another dude hostage. The not-really-a-milkman switches his clothes to doctor mode and they get the general on a stretcher destined for the helicopter. The defective general’s loaded in with the milkman strangler and takes off. Whoops! Great job, spy industry.
So M is all embarrassed about how they screwed up this entire endeavor and tells Bond go to Tangiers to kill General Pushkin. Bond seems kind of hesitant about all of this, since he’s got history with this dude. But M says tough luck, old sport: get to killing! But Bond says hey look, let me check some shit out before I blow this dude’s brains out, OK? Then it’s to Q’s lab, where a honey of a vehicle has been put together for Bond. Also, there’s a bunch of crazy gadgets as usual, including a Phillips’ brand stun gas watch(?) that’s triggered by the first few bars of “Rule Britannia.” It’s also triggered by a wolf whistle for a bigger bang. Then there’s a universal key that opens up 90% of the world’s locks, which is ridiculous.
Meanwhile, Moneypenny tracked down the assassin cellist for Bond, and he just takes out the new Aston Martin out for a spin–to check out said cellist. In Russia? He drives from England to Russia? That can’t be right. Anyway, he sits in on practice while she goes through variations of some classical bullshit that I can’t identify by ear. Bond then tracks her down after she leaves said practice because he’s made of 50% stalker. Some heavies are waiting for her on the trolley, and one of these black-jacketed thugs goes up to her and forces her off the train. Bond just kind of…watches this happen. Meanwhile, another heavy with a goatee in a trench coat manhandles her into the car, and Bond just…watches this happen passively, as well. What the hell, Bond? More like James Daydreamer.
Mmm…I sure could go for a frappe…maybe a scone…I need to update the warranty on my television…I wonder if Knight Rider is on tonight…Oh damn, they got her!
The trolley stops and Bond gets out, now carrying her cello case. He heads to the men’s lavatory, where he ducks into a booth and checks out the case’s contents. Turns out it’s not a cello but a high-powered rifle, and the men in the bathroom seem incredibly interested in what’s going on in that stall. Creeps.
We then see the cellist, now walking freely as she enters her apartment. Only the place has been goddamn trashed like Guns N’ Roses were staying there. Bond shows up at her apartment, having found her address inside the cello case, and says he got rid of her gun. He starts in on his interrogation and she says she was arrested; also, he spies a tail waiting outside in a car. Bond asks what Pushkin wants and about the general that was kidnapped. Turns out she was using blanks during the defection and she’s just happy that the general was doing OK. She wonders if she’s going to see him again, and Bond bluffs his way into getting her to go with him to Vienna. I’m wondering when something’s going to happen in this movie. Maybe in Vienna.
They zoom off in Bond’s Aston Martin and Dalton looks like a fucking insane murderer behind the wheel. Meanwhile, Bond has to turn around and get her damn cello; they do so and he seems pissed at this but whatever, I guess they get away again for a second time? Doesn’t matter: they’re listening to some swinging jazz and then the police band as they drive to Vienna. The police band says to be on the lookout for a foreign car with a man and a woman; and hey look, a police car! So Bond uses a laser to cut the bottom of the police car off. That’s weird.
Or it was just a side-effect of the shoddy Russian car industry.
Anyway, the police band lets us know that they’re now setting up road blocks and this is quickly turning into a video game. But no matter: Bond just missiles his way through the roadblock. They give chase, and it’s another goddamn car chase that I refuse to detail here because why. They drive over a frozen lake in a shack (whaaat?) and the Aston Martin’s tires are blown off, leaving Bond riding on rims. And it doesn’t matter because the car has an option to drive on ice (Q really does think of everything!), and then a goddamn rocket motor comes out of the back, launching them over the police blockade. They crash bandicoot through the woods and Bond sets the self-destruct button on the Aston Martin, just in time to blow a bunch of skiers to smithereens. Then—oh man—then they sled down the hill on the back of the cello’s carrying case. That’s just wacky. They’re being shot at while Bond holds the cello and I have to check to make sure my hallucinations aren’t getting out of hand. So they sled to the Austrian border and I guess they’re safe. I don’t know.
Pictured: The cover of James Bond’s Christmas album.
Who cares? Now we’re in Tangier, which looks awesome, and I’m hoping to spot William S Burroughs shooting heroin in an alley somewhere. There’s the heavy goatee dude from earlier who’s entering some wild-looking statue-laden vestibule of dictators from the past. This is General Pushkin, and there’s also Brad Whitaker, who’s some other fucking guy I guess. He’s probably the crazy villain in this, since he admires a bunch of fascist dictators. This guy’s a real wackjob and has a nuts-o collection of historic military artillery. Pushkin asks to return the deposit of $50 million for the artillery Whitaker’s supplying them, but Whitaker says that he can’t, he won’t, he shan’t. Pushkin lets Whitaker know that he knows he’s a real piece of shit in this crap-sack world while Whitaker’s like bu-but me, me, me! Pushkin says it’s over, Rover.
And then we see Bond and the cellist fall off the back of a turnip truck and then take a horse-drawn carriage through Vienna. Cellist says that the general dude Bond had saved is her main squeeze (his name is Koskov, while cellist’s name is…Cello?). Anyway, they get to a swank hotel where a symphony is playing on the balcony and people are ballroom dancing because I guess Vienna circa 1987 is a version of heaven I have yet to consider. They get out of the horse-drawn carriage and Bond tips the driver well because class, and they check in. Bond drops the famous “shaken, not stirred” line as the concierge asks if he wants a vodka martini sent up, and then we’re treated to a pool scene because there haven’t been enough 80’s babes in this movie. General Koskov is garnering the attentions of several young ladies poolside when he’s called away to report to the top buttons in this overcoat. So he kisses one of these bikini babes and then pushes her in the pool because it’s not a Bond movie until a woman gets shoved. He’s hanging out with that maniac Whitaker who’s in charge around here, and Koskov says no worries: we let the British know that Pushkin’s the enemy, so they’re sending Bond to kill him. This yokel Whitaker is stuffing his face and being obstinate while Koskov says hell, let’s just kill a bunch of people like usual, OK?
Back in Vienna, Bond and Cello (still haven’t caught the name) are taking in the opera because they’re in Vienna, and across the balcony way Bond’s idiot partner from earlier gets his attention. Man, Dalton still has the ravenous look of murder in his eyes no matter what’s happening. His idiot 00 partner says what’s that cellist doing here? But Bond says she’s Koskov’s girlfriend, and furthermore this is all crazy bullshit that we’re being set up on. As a side note: every male looks like chewed-up hamburger in this movie. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or what, but it’s not helping. They jib-jab about whatever, spy stuff and what Bond needs, and his soapy dope 00 partner is all hesitant but Bond says do it and I’ll be your best friend. So they make arrangements to meet by the Ferris wheel at midnight.
CUT TO Bond and cellist on a roller-coaster, which is silly, and then enjoying the carnival in general while they look wildly out-of-place in their opera-going clothes. Some stupid thing scares her and she nearly kisses James. Then they get on the Ferris wheel for some smooching. His dishrag counterpart sees them on the Ferris carriage, and he’s clocked by the strangle-happy ex-milkman spy so he’ll probably be dead soon.
The Ferris wheel stops and Bond reveals that he arranged it so they could get to some kissing but she’s like no thanks, guy. Dalton still keeps insisting because no matter who Bond’s being played by, they’re always kind of creepy towards women. So they make out while his dopey 00 counterpart drinks coffee. Jesus, Bond, you’re on a mission! Anyway, they finish their smoochfest and get back to the plot. Bond leaves cellist looking at postcards alone while he gets the passports or whatever he needs from his counterpart. And the ex-milkman assassin tampers with the automatic sliding door of the restaurant they’re in. These two spies jaw at each other about who cares but drops the name Whitaker and the location Tangier because we’re playing Password now, and Bond gets his damn papers and says thanks for helping, bro. 00 Dope is repaid for his efforts by getting smashed in the automatic door of the café.
“Looks like you’re jammed up at the moment. I’ll leave the door open for you to return. Shame that he couldn’t exit properly. Wait, this guy was my ally, why am I quipping his death? I need help.”
Bond sees a balloon that has a threat written on it (am I still hallucinating?), and he goes after this mystery balloon man. But it’s just a kid with some goddamn balloons and Bond’s fucking crazy in this movie. Meanwhile, Cello asks if he’s heard from Koskov, and he slyly says, “Yes…I got the message” (because of the balloon, you see), and they’re going to Tangier so Bond can go kill some people. And maybe then something will actually happen in this movie!
CUT TO Tangier with Bond in a car reading a newspaper because it’s non-stop action when it comes to James Bond. He pays off some street performers to leave him alone because class and then gives chase to his target, Pushkin. Tangier looks pretty cool and is somewhere that I’d be deathly afraid to actually visit in real-life. He spies Pushkin kissing some dame, and Bond just kind of smirks at this because kissing dames is his favorite thing to do. That and murder.
Holy crow, I’m half-way through this movie and very little has happened so far. Isn’t it important to have a wiz-bang adventure when a new Bond actor comes into play? This series grates on me often. For every good movie they put out, there’s another that’s just awful. This one is working OK so far, but my God, please give me something here that I can find entertaining or interesting. So far, I’ve seen Bond drive, pick up the cellist, drive some more, go to a hotel in Vienna, go to a carnival, and then go to Tangier, and a room and a room and a car and a room. Somebody shoot something! OK, back to the recap.
Pushkin gets to a hotel room where he has flowers and candies in his arms, but whoops! Bond’s waiting for him inside with a gun. The dame is in a bathrobe and looks about 70 pounds. Bond kicks Pushkin onto the bed, holds the gun on him, and says what’s up, peanut? Bond asks where Koskov is, but he’s like I don’t know. Then he pushes an emergency button on his wristwatch, alerting his goon outside. So Bond gun-punches him and then starts tearing off the dame’s clothes (yikes). The goon enters the room and sees the dame topless (and so do we; man, they just get rid of the implied nudity and go right for actual nudity in these films now, don’t they?) and Bond thrashes him but good and goes in to kill Pushkin, and Dalton is a serious maniac in this movie. Which I guess is closer to how the Bond character was originally written, but he’s rather unpleasant like this. Pushkin agrees that he has to die so Bond can figure out what’s going on, and we CUT TO Pushkin going on-stage to give a speech.
There’s the milkman assassin, who pulls a gun while on the balcony of this function to shoot Pushkin, but three shots ring out, plugging Pushkin in the gut. Everyone turns to see who the gunman is, and it’s Bond(!). Everyone does what they always do in an emergency situation and go bananas, and Bond just kind of ducks out of there.
This is just Timothy Dalton at the premiere.
He runs to the rooftop and does some parkour while wearing a Member’s Only jacket, and this movie Assassin’s Creeds itself out of danger. Pushkin’s wheeled to a back room, where he sneakily opens one eye because this is all a setup, you see. In a busy marketplace, Bond gets picked up by a couple of prostitutes (what?) and they skedaddle. Bond tries to get out of the prostitute’s car but do’h! They hold a gun on him and I’m wondering what their plan was if he didn’t decide to jump into their car. He’s taken on-board a yacht, and ha ha! It’s just one of Felix Leiter’s gags. Oh, that Felix. This time around he’s being played by 1987’s answer to Ben Murphy (note: must update reference Rolodex in brain). Leiter pours them both a drink while Bond says don’t worry dude, Pushkin’s still alive, we’re spies, remember? Now let’s put our knuckleheads together and figure this whole mess out, old friend.
Back at Whitaker’s estate, everyone seems to have fallen for the old “let’s pretend to assassinate a world leader” ruse and Koskov gets on the horn where he’s told…something. I don’t know what, but that cellist is probably a dirty double-crosser. Speaking of which, she’s back at Bond’s pad playing cello. She stops playing when he walks in and walks around in a bathrobe looking like she could crumble at any moment and makes Bond a drink. He toasts and she doesn’t take the news that Bond’s actually a British agent looking for Koskov very well, or all of the other truth bombs Bond’s dropping. Instead, she says Koskov told her that he’s a KGB agent and while he says that it’s not true, he also gets the dizzies because she drugged his drink. Jesus, Bond, are you ever going to be able to tell when your drink is drugged? You’re drugged like every other movie. Koskov walks in and they abduct Bond.
Anyway, they’re trying to sneak Bond into I guess Russia under the guise that he’s a medical patient and they also show the most phony-baloney looking heart in a heart transplant case where it’s kept “alive” by little electrodes. Look, I’m no doctor–not even in The Humanities–but I also know that’s not how any of that works. Bond wakes up and they show the same crazy fake heart again, and it looks like they’re smuggling diamonds in the ice around the fake heart dealey. This plot point really comes out of nowhere and now I’m confused.
Koskov comes out in his general’s uniform and offers Bond coffee. Bond asks why they just didn’t kill him, but Koskov says hey man, I’m turning you into the Russians for Pushkin’s murder, you goofball. Bond gives the “you don’t really think you’re going to get away with this, do you?” speech, but Koskov says whatevs cuz, Imma be rich now. Bond says you’re full of it and the cellist smiles at this and we’re all just having a lot of fun on this kidnapping, aren’t we? When they land, the cellist (Dakara? Takara? I almost caught her name here) grabs some of Bond’s spy stuff and it turns out they’re in Afghanistan. History lesson time, kids: back in the 1980’s, Communist Russia was trying to take over Afghanistan, so America funded and armed rebels in the country to fight against them–and they won! And that little group was called the Taliban! History’s fun. Koskov also turns in the cellist because he’s a real bastard man, but since she has Bond’s spy stuff I’m sure they’ll be fine.
Cellist and Bond are brought into the jail and the Russians mock some local they’re going to execute in the morning, and then Bond uses his little gas watch to knock out some of the guards. They fight and Bond’s nearly strangled while the cellist stands there doing nothing (well, she knocks a dude out with a steel bucket, so that’s fun). The local Afghani even gets in on the action! They throw the guards into the jail cells and the local is just having a grand old time watching this. They use Bond’s magical key device to get their cuffs off and grab some coats because it’s actually pretty chilly in Afghanistan, according to books I’ve read. Bond also throws the Afghani the jail cell keys because again: class. Outside, they do the regular “snoop around looking for escape” routine that Bond always does in these movies, and literally take a stair-car to escape.
Watch out for bridges and hop-ons. You’re gonna get some hop-ons.
They jump over a barb wire fence to freedom and run off into the Afghani desert. But then they’re ambushed by Afghani freedom fighters! Good thing their Afghan buddy from the jail hops over after them and lets these guys knows that Bond and Cello are cool. They ride into the Mujahedeen camp where everyone’s firing guns into the air and riding horses because that was literally all we knew about Afghanistan back in 1987. Safe in the rebel’s compound, Bond and Cello are escorted to a nice little room to relax and be locked up in.
Now cleaned up, their jail friend—named Shah—is apparently an Oxford graduate and gives Bond a drink because he can see the shakes starting. The Shah is the deputy commander of the Eastern district, and Bond introduces himself as…himself. I don’t know. Anyway, he says tough luck, Bond. Go back to your room and we’ll see what we can do for you tomorrow, eh? Back in their palace dungeon, Bond and Cello chat about their circumstance and she tries to talk Bond out of his suicide mission to kill Koskov. She hits him with a pillow and they cry and laugh and then they get down with each other because human emotions act weird in these movies.
The next day, they’re on horseback headed for the Kyber Pass, but Bond’s shifting eyes suggests he’s got other plans. He puts on his head scarf and starts sneaking around the Mujahedeen’s horses, where he literally pretends to tie his shoe while sticking a knife in one of the sacks these dudes are carrying. It’s raw opium (duh, it’s Afghanistan; why do you think we sent troops there–not to secure their opium fields?), and Shah says hey man, this is the price of buying weapons to kill a bunch of people: selling drugs.
“If selling drugs for weapons to kill people is wrong, I don’t want to be right!”
Not-so-coincidentally because we need to start threading the loops here, Koskov and his diamonds come back into play; he’s using the diamonds to buy the opium so he can sell it for maximum profit. Oh God, is this excruciatingly convoluted plotting. So the lead dudes of this crazy Afghan opium-dealing operation is doing the diamonds-for-drugs deal and Shah says ahh fuck it, I’ll help you, Bond, sounds like fun. He gets Bond some plastic explosives and they get to taking down the Russian military. So to repeat: James Bond and the Taliban are teaming up to take down the Russians. My, how times change.
Bond gets himself in the truck with the opium bags and plants said explosives. The truck starts to drive away with Bond in it! Ruh-roh. Bond plays hide-behind-the-opium and Cello bitches to Shah to help Bond, but the Shah’s like, fuck that. So she grabs his assault rifle and goes after Bond. His men just kind of glare at him, and he says, well fuck it again, I guess: I already have the diamonds, after all. So they all race to help Bond out, too. Because to repeat: James Bond and the Taliban are good friends in this movie.
Bond passes the time by getting the explosives ready and they stop at an aircraft to load up the opium. He tries to make like he works there, helping unload the opium, and Cello and the Shah get to beating up some Russkies and saving the day. These opium-dealing members of the Taliban are saving the day! What the hell, 1987? Bond gets on the plane and sets the timer to the explosives and tries to get out, but instead Koskov starts entering the plane and recognizes Bond, so what does Bond do? What he does every time he’s cornered: starts firing a weapon.
But never mind: here’s Shah and his men, storming the base and firing wildly, even bulldozing a building–just for fun, I’d imagine. Bond hops behind the controls of the plane while the Taliban provide him cover and he starts it up. Meanwhile, Shah’s in a bulldozer just James Bond-ing it all over the place while Bond’s trying to get this flippin’ carrier plane to go. It’s more of that “random explosions and people getting shot” climax that Bond movies always do, and Cello gets a few good shots in herself. Bond gives the thumbs-up to Shah as he rolls the plane forward while the Russians just kind of panic. A bunch of Panicky Peters, they are. There’s some pretty great explosions in this sequence for fans who like it when things go boom. Cello’s thrown from her horse due to a grenade, and she runs to a jeep to try to help Bond. This gets her chased by Koskov and the murderous milkman, who are shooting at her from their own jeep.
She drives up to Bond, who opens the back bay door and is signaling for her to drive right into this crazy fucking thing. She does, and that’s kind of neat, but as she reaches Bond, another plane trying to land is coming right at him, and right at the last moment he pulls up to safety. Meanwhile, Koskov—although his jeep was just crashed into head-first by a landing plane—somehow survives.
But oh crumbcakes! The milkman murderer is on the plane! He gets the drop on Bond, trying to choke him out with a rope net, but James has his trusty knife that cuts loose a bunch of opium, which knocks them backwards (as a bunch of opium will do). Cello gets the smart idea to open to back bay door to try and dump milkman murderer out, which only slides the entire shipment of dope—along with James and Milkman—out to dangle in the air. It’s another really cool-looking real stunt that I can’t believe they actually did.
“We’re two psychopathic agents and even this seems kind of nuts to me.”
So Bond and Milkman start fighting while dangling out of the plane, and that darn bomb is also ticking away on the shipment. So Bond gives the Milkman a special delivery of fist with express punch shipping, and that darn bomb’s going to go off in a minute and a half. So Bond just starts cutting the damn net free, sending all of that opium flying away. The bomb’s down to a minute, Bond’s stuck on Milkman, who’s grabbed his leg, and now the darn net’s securing is beginning to fray. Of all the luck! Holding onto Bond’s boot, Milkman pleads for Bond not to do what he’s going to do—which is cut the laces off of his boot. This sends Milkman out into thin air and Bond just barely gets inside.
He closes the door, but do’h! He hears that bomb ticking away. He stops it just two seconds before it goes off (couldn’t it have been 007 seconds like in Goldfinger?) and when he gets back to Cello, she asks what happened. “He got the boot,” says Bond in a pretty good line, but no time for that: she’s nearly flown them into a mountain! He jumps behind the controls and gets the plane over the immovable object, and below the Russians are firing their tanks on those gosh-darn lovable Taliban. So Bond does them a solid by dropping that bomb on those Russians. Bond saved the Taliban! Hooray! They cheer Bond’s name, presumably right before going to enact some Sharia law on a deviant woman who dared show her face in public.
Unfortunately, they’re now out of fuel, what with their engine being shot up and all, and Bond hopes they make Pakistan. But nope! Those rotors stop dead and Bond just kind of has an “I’m fucked” look. So he tells Cello to get in the jeep in the back, tells her to fasten her seat belt, and they crash-land by deploying a parachute connected to the jeep. They go backwards, the plane keeps going forwards, and they land without a scratch on them. Bond sees a sign for Karachi, quips, “I know a great restaurant in Karachi,” and they drive away, the jeep totally fine and their bones not Jello after that crash.
CUT TO Whitaker’s crazy abode (remember him?), with Bond now infiltrating the place while Leiter gives him an assist on radio. James sneaks into Whitaker’s insane playroom, where he’s replaying the Gettysburg battle. Bond holds a gun to him and says he’s looking for Koskov; Whitaker says he doesn’t care as long as he gets that opium. Bond says fuck you, buddy. So Whitaker gets his hands on some crazy weapon and he and Bond start firing at each other. But his assault rifle has a bullet-proof shield on it, so Bond’s stupid bullets do nothing. Also, his entire room is pretty much a death chamber filled with crazy mechanized weapons.
His therapist once suggested that he had issues with guns, so Whitaker shot him.
So Bond sets his gas watch on a pedestal with a bust on it and gives the old wolf whistle, which makes it explode, crushing Whitaker. One of Whitaker’s goons comes in to blow him away, but nope: Pushkin comes in and blows him away. That snake Koskov comes in, all hugs and kisses to Pushkin saying hey we’re still pals, right? Pushkin say sure: I’m just going to kill you, is all. Bond asks what’s to become of Kara (KARA! That’s Cello’s name! Oh well, too late). Pushkin says I guess you can have her.
We see her playing in a nice little symphony the same cello that has a bullet hole in it, which would totally fuck up its sound, but whatever. She’s in Vienna, now the toast of the symphony world that extends to a few dozen people at least. Hey! Gogol’s there! And he looks incredibly old and rose-blossomed. M’s also just kind of hanging out. And then, somehow, for some reason, the Shah and his men are there—decked out in bandoliers and everything—apologizing that they’re late and saying they had some trouble at the airport (I bet you did) which, what is this, a fucking romantic comedy all of a sudden?
She gets back to her dressing room, and while it said that Bond was away on assignment, that sly old dog is in there with two martinis waiting. They smooch, she says, “Oh James,” because I think he releases a pheromone that compels women that he’s kissing to say that, a rather confused-sounding song starts, and THAT’S THE ENTIRE MOVIE! ROLL THE CREDITS NOW NOW NOW!
- I did not do well this time with names this time around; sorry that I called Kara “Cello” or just “the cellist” throughout the recap, but again: these movies should have someone say the characters’ names that aren’t “James Bond” more than once.
- Apparently, I’m incorrect in my assumption that the Mujahedeen became the Taliban; they were actually enemies. But it’s funnier to think that Bond was getting help from the Taliban, so I’m letting it stand.
- Timothy Dalton comes across as downright sinister as James Bond. He’s has the coldness of Connery’s Bond without the charm.
This was a surprising return to form for the Bond franchise: no more of the insanity involving circuses or weirdos with private island getaways or ::shudder:: space stations. It’s a back-to-basics Bond involving those darn Commies, international intrigue, and some good old double-crossing. As mentioned above, Timothy Dalton comes across like a goddamn sociopath in many of the scenes, but that also speaks to the origins of Bond as a pretty cold-blooded murderer. After all, this is a man who sets forth to kill for King and Country. If he gets the girl, that’s great, but his main mission is to maim and destroy the enemy; you’re not going to attract soft-hearted romantics to that position.
The Bond girl—Kara—was also pretty good, but she didn’t have much to do in this movie. She wasn’t necessarily integral to the plot, and her absence wouldn’t have changed much of what happened; in fact, she was more of a liability. However, she was rendered with respect and given an actual personality and motivation other than damsel-in-distress. If only they said her name more times so I didn’t have to resort to calling her Cello for most of the recap.
The one thing this movie lacked, until the ending, was action: there were plenty of interesting things happening in this movie, but nothing truly exciting. The last 20 minutes was one long, great action sequence; too bad the film didn’t have a few more of those scenes sprinkled throughout. Even though the concept was starting to get a little worn-out by 1987, it was good to see Bond still fighting against those darn Russkies. It was a smart choice for a movie that was trying to get Bond back into true form after the complete wackiness the Roger Moore era devolved into.
Still, a solid Bond adventure, and it’s always fun to watch a new guy take up the role (as long as his name isn’t George Lazenby, that is). It was a lot more violent (and bloody!) than any other Bond film before it, but then again that’s a sign of how the Bond movies adapt with the times they’re made in; a franchise worth its salt will find a way to stay relevant no matter what year it’s produced in. If they were still making Dr. No-era Bond films throughout the 1970s, the franchise would have never seen the 1980s. Well, sometimes it works; the 1970’s was a pretty wacky time, and some very wacky Bond movies were put out then. Fortunately, the mid-80’s saw the return of the big-budget, violent action movie, and this one suits the form and the time it’s set in very well.
Maybe it’s because I’m relieved to see a Bond that’s neither an aged Roger Moore or a sleepy Sean Connery, or that the franchise brought itself back into modern times, or that this was a pretty sleek Bond film in general, but this one gets three out of four Bonds.