BOND 50 THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...

MISSION 15: THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987)

INTRODUCING DALTON The introduction of any new Bond is a cardinal screen moment and the pre-titles sequence of The Living Daylights wittily toys with our expectations. We’re flung into an MI6 training mission to penetrate the radar defences of Gibraltar. Three men skydive onto the towering, rain-grey crag of the crown dependency, a choice of location that instantly announces a return to the rugged, grounded universe of For Your Eyes Only . One of these freefalling silhouettes is the new James Bond – but which one? The film is playing a shellgame with Bond’s identity. When Dalton finally wins a close-up it’s a beaut – he turns, an astonishingly Byronic figure ruffled by high winds, all dimple and gaze, processing the death-cry of his fellow double-oh agent. As John Barry’s score turns techno Bond enters white-knuckle action mode, battling to cling to a hurtling, explosives-laden jeep as it careens around the perilous cliffside roads. This combat-booted, compellingly physical protagonist immediately feels more dynamic than Moore’s incarnation; by the time he dispenses a brutal head-butt we’re utterly sold on him as an action man. But Dalton’s most telling moment comes when he introduces himself to the girl on the yacht. Confronted by the line “Bond, James Bond” he strips it of all its suave portent, its decades of encrusted meaning. He’s like an actor terrified of cliché, tossing away “To be or not to be.” The intent is clear: Timothy Dalton is playing James Bond. Just possibly not the one we’ve always known.

TRIV AND LET DIE

Other contenders for the role of Bond included Lambert Wilson, Anthony Hamilton and Christopher Lambert, star of Highlander .

Dalton began his Bond career in a state of jet-lag. He finished Brenda Starr in America on a Saturday, flew Sunday and began filming The Living Daylights on the Monday.

Andreas Wisniewski AKA Walkman-wielding assassin Necros was a trained ballet dancer.

This is the last film to be scored by the mighty John Barry. He cameos as the conductor of the orchestra as Kara plays.

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN LICENCE TO KILL