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Living Daylights, The (1987)

James Bond roams the world again in search of even more stunts and implausible baddies.

The Commies again prove to be the antagonists, but the protagonist this time is Timothy Dalton – as young and virile as the Sean Connery of blessed memory, and surely the George Lazenby of the 80s in his stolid, stalwart boringness.

The plot has something to do with 007 assisting the escape of Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe) – a prominent Russian defector from behind the Iron Curtain.

In the process, he falls in love with Kara Milovy – the glamorous KGB assassin he refuses to shoot. She turns out to be a Czech cellist and the lover of the defected spy and now it’s up to 007 to help her escape, too.

Maryam D’Abo is the cellist (pictured below right) while Joe Don Baker provides the villainy and reliable old John Glen directs this, the 15th in an evidently unending series.

Koskov claims to have defected because his superior, General Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies), who has replaced General Gogol, has started a new operation: Smiert Spionem (Death to Spies).

Pushkin will be in Tangiers in three days’ time, and Koskov suggests that he be eliminated to stop the operation.

However, the safe house in which Koskov is being debriefed is attacked, and someone who claims to be a KGB agent kidnaps Koskov.

A label with ‘Spiert Spionem’ written on it had been found by 004’s body, so M orders Bond to kill Pushkin. Bond reluctantly accepts.

Bond has asked Moneypenny to identify the woman with the cello. He travels back to Bratislava, where he discovers that the bullets she was using were fake. He poses as a friend of Koskov’s and gets her out of the country.

In Tangiers, General Pushkin tells pseudo-General Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker), a weapons dealer and Pushkin’s contact in the West, that the deal Pushkin was brokering is off, and the money paid on deposit is to be repaid.

Koskov and his ‘kidnapper’ Necros are guests at Whitaker’s house; Koskov is sure he has convinced the British that Pushkin is a threat to them, and therefore they will eliminate him. Another British agent will be killed as a reminder.

In Vienna, Bond discovers from the local agent, Saunders, that Whitaker paid for Kara’s cello, which had apparently been a present from Koskov. Saunders is killed by Necros, and Bond heads for Tangiers, where he stalks Pushkin.

Bond is still reluctant to kill the Russian, and Pushkin tells him that Koskov was about to be arrested and that Smiert Spionem was an operation disbanded twenty years earlier.

The only way they will find out what is going on is if Pushkin dies. So they fake his death at Bond’s hands, and, while evading capture, Bond runs into the CIA and his old friend Felix Leiter, who is investigating Whitaker.

Kara meanwhile has contacted Koskov directly, and discovered Bond is not a friend. She drugs his drink, but as he falls into unconsciousness he persuades her that he was on her side.

Bond is transported out of Tangiers on a Soviet plane to Afghanistan, along with a fortune in diamonds. Kara changes loyalties but is rewarded by being given to the Russians by Koskov as a defector.

Bond and Kara escape from the Russian jail, alongside a dirty, smelly Afghan – who turns out to be Kamran Shah (Art Malik), one of the leaders of the Mujahedin, the Afghan resistance.

The next day Bond and Kara attend a trade between the Russians and opium sellers. The sale of the opium in America will allow Koskov and Whitaker to turn a fast profit and carry through their arms deal.

After ensuring the Afghans get their diamonds, Bond travels back inside the base alongside the opium, with a bomb.

Kara chases after the Russian convoy and is reluctantly followed by Kamran and his men.

Bond places the bomb in the Russian transporter but is spotted. At that moment, the Afghans arrive and, in the confusion, Bond and Kara manage to fly the cargo transporter away, with the bomb and Necros on board.

Bond and Necros fight to the death, and then Bond uses the bomb to halt the Russians chasing after Kamran’s men.

On his return to Tangiers, Bond faces Whitaker and kills him; Pushkin saves his life from Whitaker’s bodyguard. Koskov tries valiantly one last time to change sides, but Pushkin orders him returned to Moscow in the diplomatic bag.

Kara embarks on a world tour as a solo cellist.

Bond scales walls, swims moats, escapes knife throwers, fleeing in the usual assortment of rockets, helicopters, and water-skiing aeroplanes. When his Aston-Martin hits the Swiss Alps, he grabs the girl and they flee the Czech border police by using her cello case as a high-speed toboggan . . .

All director John Glen really does is organise the traffic so nobody gets hurt.

James Bond
Timothy Dalton
Kara Milovy
Maryam D’Abo
Brad Whitaker
Joe Don Baker
Art Malik
General Georgi Koskov
Jeroen Krabbé
General Leonid Pushkin
John Rhys-Davies
Andreas Wisniewski
Thomas Wheatley
Desmond Llewellyn
Robert Brown
Miss Moneypenny
Caroline Bliss
Felix Leiter
John Terry
General Anatol Gogol
Walter Gotell
Minister of Defence
Geoffrey Keen

John Glen