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"Whoever she was, it must have scared the living daylights out of her."
James Bond
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The one with Bond going all The Third Man.

The Living Daylights is the fifteenth James Bond film, the fourth in the series to be directed by John Glen and the first of the two starring Timothy Dalton, premiering on June 29, 1987. The Title Theme Tune was performed by a-ha.

After a Gibraltar training exercise for Bond and the other 00-Agents turns deadly for 004 and a few SAS guards the agents were sparring against, Bond is given his next mission: assist in the defection of a highly ranked Soviet general named Georgi Koskov when he visits the Conservatoire in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. The defection works out, but Bond suspects something's amiss when the sniper sent to kill Koskov was the pretty cellist performing at the Conservatoire, who was clearly not a professional with a sniper rifle. Against orders, Bond merely wounds the woman, before helping Koskov get over the border to Austria via one of Q's contraptions.

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Back in London, Koskov reveals that the new head of the KGB, General Pushkin, is starting up a ruthless counterintelligence operation called Smiert Spionom, Russian for "Death to Spies." Koskov fears that it will lead to retaliation from the British or Americans and possibly even lead to nuclear war. However, before further details can be gleaned from him, Koskov is snatched from the safe house he was being kept in, assumedly by the KGB. Bond thinks there's more to the story than meets the eye, but M is convinced enough to order that Pushkin be killed while at a trade convention in Tangiers, especially when 004's body is returned from Gibraltar with a found note reading Smiert Spionom. Bond accepts the assassination order reluctantly, but decides that there's enough time to investigate things in Bratislava, starting with that pretty cellist...

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This is one of the most complex of the Bond films with a few good twists along the way, and a lot of great action scenes, as well as being among the ones that feels somewhat like an actual spy movie, if still clearly a Bond film. Also noteworthy in that this film is the last film:

  • to feature a blonde Bond Girl (or if you're feeling punny, a Blonde Girl) in a lead role, until Léa Seydoux as Madeline Swann in Spectre.note 
  • to feature the Soviet Union as a major player.note 
  • to be based off a piece of Ian Fleming's original Bond fiction (in this case, a short story), until Casino Royale (2006) was finally made to reboot the franchise with Daniel Craig as Bond.note 
  • to feature the legendary John Barry's music; he retired from the series after this film.note 
  • to receive a PG rating from the MPAA; the much grittier Licence to Kill would receive a PG-13 rating and all subsequent films in the series would follow suit.


This film contains examples of:

  • The '80s: While not as obvious as A View to a Kill, its still got a-ha, '80s Hair and, of course: the boom box with an integrated missile launcher is called the Ghetto Blaster.
  • Achilles' Power Cord: Necros attempts to kill the Battle Butler at the MI-6 safehouse with an electric carving knife. The butler is able to hook his foot around the power cord and jerk it out of the plug.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Koskov finds Bond's insult quite amusing.
    Koskov: James, for you I have great affection. But we have a saying, "Duty has no sweethearts".
    Bond: We have an old saying too, Georgi. And you're full of it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The original short story is only about the sniper mission at the beginning of the movie. It features Bond having to help a British agent escape East Berlin, by eliminating the opposing sniper. When he recognises her as a beautiful woman he saw earlier, he merely elects to wound her and prevent her killing the agent. M is not happy, as Bond's delay caused by adjusting his aim nearly causes the mission to fail.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original short story, the agent (Koskov) is someone Bond must help while the sniper (Kara) is the antagonist. In the film the roles are reversed, with Koskov revealed to be the mastermind, and Kara being an innocent girl he framed.
  • Almighty Janitor: Green Four, the security guard/butler who enters the kitchen after Necros killed the Chef qualifies. He manage to fight Necros for several minutes in a hand to hand fight (remember that's the guy who is supposed to give Bond trouble), and comes close to winning at several points. Justified, in that every guard in the area are highly trained MI agents.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Most fans assumed the scene with Bond and Kara using her cello case to slide down the mountain like a bobsled was done via special effects, thinking that was absurd; actually, it was a simple stunt that both Timothy Dalton and Maryam d'Abo did themselves, actually using it as such. (It took quite a few takes, however.)
  • Androcles' Lion: When Bond and Kara are thrown in a prison in Afghanistan, they quickly beat up their guards and escape. On a whim, they free the prisoner in the next cell, who quickly proves to be a valuable ally as he's a leader of the Afghan Resistance.
  • Arms Dealer: Brad Whitaker used to provide weapons to the Soviets until General Pushkin came down to Tangiers and cut him off. Whitaker subsequently asked Koskov to kill Pushkin to provide coverage for his opium smuggling operations. This arms dealer is seen for a very short portion of the movie, instead acting as an armchair general who likes to play with toy soldiers.
  • Artistic License – History/Alternate History: In-universe, Bond notes a flaw in Whitaker's Gettysburg reenactment:
    Bond: Pickett's Charge was up Cemetery Ridge, not Little Round Top.
    Whitaker: I'm replaying the battle as I would have fought it!
  • Artistic License – Music: The bullet hole in Kara's cello is there for the below-mentioned Brick Joke, but in Real Life, it would likely ruin the instrument's acoustics and render it unplayable.
  • As You Know: Done by having Saunders overtly patronizing Bond.
    "Now let's understand each other, Bond. General Koskov is a top KGB mastermind. His defection is my baby. He contacted me. I've planned this out to the last detail."
  • At the Opera Tonight: Bond meets his contact Saunders during a concert in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. He is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer, General Koskov, covering his escape from the concert hall during the orchestra's intermission.
  • BFG: After Bond empties his PPK's magazine at Whitaker, who was hiding behind facial body armor, the bad guy says "You've had your eight! Now have my EIGHTY!" Shortly afterwards, he proceeds to unload his assault rifle's magazine on full-auto in Bond's general direction.
  • Badass Bystander: Kamran Shah appears to be one of these as well during his first appearance, but he turns out to be quite important indeed.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: General Koskov is this to Kara Milovy. Despite all of his gifts to her, he won't hesitate to use her as a sniper bait and engineer her death.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: General Koskov ditches his KGB bodyguard/minder via the restroom stall window.
  • Batman Gambit: General Koskov has a lot on his plate: a phony KGB defection, two fake assassination attempts (one carried out by his girlfriend), a couple of kidnappings, a few real assassinations, and a weapons-for-opium smuggling operation. All of which would have left MI-6 looking like idiots, his rival in the Soviet military dead and discredited, his girlfriend Stuffed in the Fridge and himself very, very rich, if it wasn't for that meddling 007....
  • Battle Butler: At the safehouse where Koskov is being debriefed, everyone from gardeners to butlers is shown to be a guard, except the stenographer, who's a stenographer. One of them (callsign Green Four) actually puts up a good fight against Necros.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The bad guys successfully transport diamonds across borders, mixed with ice in a medical cooler containing a beating (animal) heart - even in this clinical state, it gets hastily waved through by squicked-out officials.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Koskov and Whitaker.
  • Big "NO!": The first Double 0 as his rope is cut.
    • Necros also utters one just before he falls off the plane to his death.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: In the original short story too. Notably, Kara is injured, but the wound is not serious. The rifle itself is also shown to be damaged. Bond later uses his knowledge of the wound (and its source) to get her to trust him. In this case, he justifies wounding as "I only kill professionals. That woman didn't know one end of rifle from another."
  • Blood Knight: Brad Whitaker is somewhat of a slight subversion: He's obsessed with warfare and weaponry, his house practically a museum full of the stuff, is the leader of a mercenary company, and calls himself a "soldier". However, he flunked out of West Point for cheating, and in general is really only bumming around in Tangier.
  • Bond Girl: Pokes some fun at the trope with Bond's overweight Slavic assistant.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • "He got the boot." Necros fell out the back of the open cargo bay door of a plane in flight by Bond cutting the laces of his own shoe, which Necros was hanging on to.
    • "He met his Waterloo." Bond had set off a small explosion that toppled a statue of the Duke of Wellington onto Whitaker.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted, as Koskov's whole plan hinges on Bond killing Genera Pushkin on his say so and his own ability to look like the victim and/or hero. He does miss a good opportunity to kill Bond late in the film, but it's because he thinks sending Bond to jail will be better for his cover - which he'd be right about, if Bond hadn't already outsmarted him a few scenes before.
  • Brawn Hilda: A stocky German woman does a fairly good job at distracting her supervisor while Bond helps Koskov defect to the West.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Bond overrides Saunders' plan to smuggle Koskov out in the boot of the car because that's the first place any border guards would think to look. When they reach the border after smuggling Koskov out through a different route, we see a shot of the border guards... checking out the boot of the car. Saunders looks a bit put-out.
    • During the escape to Austria via Cello case, the actual cello gets struck by a bullet with Bond saying a simple "Sorry" to Kara. In the finale, Kara is seen with the same cello with special focus on the bullet hole in its woodwork.
  • Briefcase Blaster: Q showcases a rocket launcher concealed within a stereo. Q says that it was designed for the CIA and agents assigned to North America, and says it's called "The Ghetto Blaster".
  • The Brute: Necros is a very cunning and intelligent example of this.
  • Call-Back:
    • Bond again identifies raw opium by taste.
    • Whitaker, just before letting loose with a volley of weapons fire: "You've had your eight, now I'll have my eighty", calling back to Bond's final words before shooting Prof. Dent in Dr. No.
  • Calling Card: Smiert Spionom
  • The Cameo: Max (The Macaw) from For Your Eyes Only
    • Also General Gogol, now a diplomat, after his role was taken up by the character of General Pushkin. Walter Gotell was (at the time) in poor health.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Bond's reaction to Koskov asking him about the female sniper he just shot. Koskov naturally assumes Bond didn't like killing a woman, when he's actually concealing that fact that he didn't kill her at all.
  • Character Development: Bond refuses to kill someone who isn't a professional killer like himself and states he'll resign if they try and make him.
  • Checkpoint Charlie: Bond arranges for a defector to cross the Czechoslovakian border twice — first by being shunted through a pipeline and on the second occasion by Weaponised Car. And a cello.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Kara's injury. See Blasting It Out of Their Hands.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Kara's Cello. While it becomes useful in the escape to Austria, what is more important is HOW the cello was obtained by Kara as it was originally purchased by Whitaker.
  • Companion Cube: Kara Milovy's prized instrument is almost a character itself. When Bond and Kara leave Czechoslovakia, he initially didn't want her to bring the cello since lugging it around would be a waste of time and space, but she insisted. But when the pair have to ditch their car, the cello comes in handy in the film's most memorable scene, where Bond and Kara enter Austria by sledding through the mountains in the cello case while being chased by guards. The cello even takes a bullet, and the hole is still there when Kara performs at the end of the movie.
    Bond: (sledding past an Austrian guard post): We've nothing to declare!
    Kara: Just a cello! (echos in the background)
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Bond shoots General Pushkin during a conference, in full view of everybody, including the Russian authorities. Of course, that's exactly the point.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cool Car: Bond's Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
  • Cool Guns:
    • Bond's cool but unusual Walther WA 2000. Only 176 were ever made.
    • Brad Whitaker briefly uses a Mini-Uzi.
  • Counting Bullets: "You've had your eight, now I have my eighty".
  • Covers Always Lie: One of the film's posters shows the gunbarrel with Timothy Dalton aiming at a woman who from behind looks like Maryam D'Abo in a sheer diaphanous white dress, who carries a silenced gun. No such scene appears in the film, and the blonde woman is apparently not supposed to represent Kara Milovy.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: Nearly happens, but Bond stays on the rooftop. However, it being Tangier, the harem girls still get to ogle him from where they're sitting.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to previous Bond movies, at least. Bond as played by Dalton is more grim and cynical than Moore's Bond had been and the plot is comparatively more down to earth, revolving around arms dealing, the opium trade and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with no super-weapons or the like (although some of Whitaker's advanced pieces of weaponry and body armour might straddle the line).
  • Deadly Delivery: Necros disguises himself as a milkman and a balloon salesman. Both times he kills his targets by strangling them with the cords of his headphones. In the case of his milkman role, he also uses explosive milk bottles.
  • Defector from Commie Land: General Koskov, and later Kara Milovy. The former gets the latter (his girlfriend) to pose as a KGB sniper to make his defection look real, with every intention of having her killed by James Bond. Bond notes that she's an amateur and merely shoots the rifle from her hands. "I must have scared the living daylights out of her."
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: The kidnapping of General Koskov is initiated by Necros who does a Kill and Replace on a milkman to enter the MI-6 safehouse. The guard is suspicious enough to search him but finds nothing (as he's got bombs hidden in the milk bottles).
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Koskov and Whitaker, a KGB chieftain and a crooked arms dealer respectively, who plan to have Bond murder the former KGB superior to cover up their ring of embezzlement, drug running and diamond smuggling.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • An assassin cuts 004's rock-climbing rope at the start.
    • Toward the end, Bond tosses Necros out of a plane.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: To distract Pushkin's bodyguard after an alarm is sounded, Bond forcibly strips Pushkin's girlfriend to her waist and has her stand topless facing the door as the guard enters. The guard walks in on the now topless woman, allowing Bond to get the drop on him and disable him.
  • The Door Slams You: Saunders is killed when Necros uses a small explosive charge to propel a sliding glass door into him at lethal velocity.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Koskov is a downplayed version of this. By the end of the film his loyalties have mostly been clarified, he was using the British to eliminate General Pushkin who was about to have him arrested for corruption, but earlier in the film he bounces back and forth.
  • The Dragon: Necros.
  • Driving into a Truck: A jeep evades pursuers by driving onto the extended rear hatch of a taxiing C-130.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Kara
  • End of an Age: The last Bond film to feature the Soviet Union and the last Bond film to have the score composed by John Barry (and some would consider the score to be some of Barry's finest work).
  • Ending Theme: "If There Was a Man" by the Pretenders.
  • Ensign Newbie: Saunders is a pretty high-ranking station chief who has become so at a reasonably young age, but when it comes to running Koskov's defection clearly has little clue what he's doing. Bond essentially scraps Saunders' original plans and takes over.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The exploding jeep that went off a cliff. The explosives contained in the rear are on fire.
  • Everyone Is Armed: All the servants, kitchen staff and groundskeepers at the MI-6 Safe House are armed guards. That doesn't stop Necros from tearing through them, though Green Four gives him some trouble before he's subdued.
  • Evil Plan: Koskov and Whitaker plan to get ludicrously rich using the profits from a large shipment of opium paid for using diamonds and to repay the loan from the Russkies they took and are a bit late in returning, as well as pitting the British against the KGB chief who is on to them by framing him for murdering British agents.
  • Fake Defector: General Koskov pretends to defect to the West. Turns out he's playing both sides against the middle and used the defection as an opportunity to get his girlfriend offed by James Bond (who doesn't actually do it and ends up taking off her clothes later in the movie).
  • Faking the Dead: Bond helps Pushkin to fake his death at the former's hands to find out what Koskov and Whitaker are up to. This may have inadvertently saved Pushkin's life as Necros was in the rafters ready to kill him as well.
  • False Flag Operation: Koskov and Whitaker stage what appear to be KGB assassinations of several Western agents, in order to trick MI-6 into eliminating the new KGB director for them before he can have them arrested for corruption.
  • False Reassurance: Played with; when shooing Koskov into the pipeline capsule, Bond offers soothing reassurance about how long their technicians have been working on the device... but then, when Koskov is all strapped in and is about to be locked into the device, mischievously pulls the rug from under him by pointing out that Koskov is the first person to actually use it.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Game's over, mate! You're dead!" Gibraltar guard, unaware he's facing a mole.
    • "NO!" 004, as he falls to his death in Gibraltar.
    • "Good luck." Saunders, later blown up by Necros.
    • "NOOO-!" Colonel Feyador as his petrol truck explodes.
    • "No!" Necros, as he is kicked from the plane.
    • "Should've known you'd take refuge behind that British vulture Wellington. You know that he had to buy German mercenaries to beat Napoleon, don't you?" 'General' Brad Whitaker, who soon gets his thick head crushed by the bust of Wellington.
  • Fatal Flaw: Georgi Koskov and his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. A corrupt and two-timing Russian general, he first backstabs his fellow countrymen by falsely blaming KGB head Pushkin as the mastermind of a plot to kill off American and British spies, knowing that the setup will lead to Pushkin's death, with Bond as the assassin. With Pushkin out of the way, he will then engage in a three-way arms deal with Brad Whitaker and Colonel Feyador in Afghanistan to obtain valuable opium. Once the deal ends, Koskov will return to Russia with arms from the deal that gave them the payoff for the opium, a promise that the defection was an undercover assignment from Pushkin, and with Bond in tow, it's implied that he'll seize control of the KGB. He also fools the British into thinking he's defecting to the West, tries to manipulate Kara Milovy into distrusting Bond, and even tried to pin the blame on Whitaker when all things went south. But by then, nobody's buying his lies, and Pushkin promptly has him arrested to be sent back to Moscow, where he will be executed for his treachery. He also very much wanted to be a Magnificent Bastard and Smug Snake, but doesn't make the cut.]]
  • Ferris Wheel Date Moment: Bond bribes the operator to stall the Ferris Wheel, in order to give him and Kara added time alone.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: As in For Your Eyes Only, Bond is able to identify raw opium by taste.
  • Friendly Enemy: Bond and Pushkin appear to have, at the very least, a healthy mutual respect for each other. Upon receiving his orders to assassinate Pushkin, Bond protests that he can hardly believe that Pushkin is the murderous hardliner that Koskov has painted him as, only to reluctantly relent when M offers / threatens to send another agent to do the job instead ("If it must be done, I'll do it."). At the end, Pushkin returns the favour by acting as a Big Damn Hero in the final confrontation with Whitaker. This is likely a remnant of the fact that in earlier drafts the target was to be General Gogol, who had appeared in previous Bond movies with such a rapport being established with Bond, but by the time the movie was made his actor was too sick to appear beyond a cameo.
  • Foreshadowing: After the sniper sequence in Vienna, when told that he disobeyed orders Bond snarls that if M wants him to resign, he'll welcome it. The very next movie, M revokes his license to kill.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Used during the kitchen fight, both a straight example and a variant; a thrown saucepan full of boiling water.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: Necros uses this to cover up his attack on the Blayden safehouse, before throwing tear gas grenades hidden in milk bottles. As everyone evacuates, he kidnaps his target under the guise of a medical evacuation.
  • General Failure: Brad Whitaker is explicitly mentioned as being such, or rather is mentioned as having failed to achieve any true military rank within the U.S. Armed Forces due to having cheated while studying at West Point. So instead, he resorted to arms smuggling across the world's war-torn regions, making a fortune through his dealings and becoming a self-styled colonel of sorts, even entering a partnership with the Soviets to supply their war in Afghanistan. However, for all of his fascination with military power, those who know better of his military service rarely hesitate to point out that his rank is in truth self-appointed.
  • Genius Bruiser: Necros.
  • Gilligan Cut: Bond informs Kara there is absolutely no way they can take the risk to go back for her cello. Immediate cut to:
    Bond: Why couldn't you have learned the violin?
  • Giving Them the Strip: Necros grabs hold of Bond's boot while they are fighting on the cargo net dangling out the back of the plane. Bond gets rid of him by cutting the laces on his boot, causing Necros to fall to his death still clutching the boot.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Bond and Kara are escaping when she insists that they go back for her cello. Bond is adamant that they can't risk it, but she gets her way. Later, when they need an improvised sled:
    Bond: "Glad I insisted you bring that cello!"
  • Goggles Do Something Useful: Bond has binocular shades. They look a bit odd, though.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Bond sneaks off a mission precisely to hear Kara's first concert after she has escaped to the west, and later sneaks into her dressing room in order to surprise her with drinks and a romantic evening.
  • Groin Attack: Bond narrowly avoids being shot in the crotch early on in the film.
  • Gun Accessories: Bond uses a Walther WA 2000 equipped with a rather large night vision scope and his own hand-loaded ammunition.
    • Whitaker shows off a collection of firearms with silly Hollywood embellishments such as mini-missile launchers, and in the final confrontation pulls out a Colt Commando carbine fitted with a transparent gun shield.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Although we, thankfully, never see the actual aftermath of it, this is heavily implied to what happened to Saunders after being the victim of a booby-trapped sliding glass door by Necros. Well, in addition to other things.
  • Happy Dance: Koskov's Narm-inducing dance in a fabulous sunhat and bathrobe once he learns that he's successfully manipulated the British government into using 007 to kill General Pushkin.
  • Hero of Another Story: 008 is said to "obey orders, not instincts", in contrast with the more headstrong Bond. We see a number of other double-O agents being picked off in a training exercise, which teases the identity of the newly recast Bond.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: During the rescue sequence, Bond gets a little help from this trope; his Big Beautiful Woman helper on the east side of the Berlin Wall distracts a guard by unveiling her assets. When last seen, the distracted party is planted face-first in them while the defector escapes.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Bond has been sent to assassinate General Pushkin based on information given by Georgi Koskov and the latter's subsequent kidnapping. When Bond confronts Pushkin at gunpoint in his hotel room, Pushkin gives a different side of the story and tells Bond that it all comes down to who he trusts - Koskov, or him.
    Bond: If I trusted Koskov, we wouldn't be talking.
  • Impairment Shot: Bond gets poisoned and the camera collapses to the floor and goes all blurry just as Necros marches in.
  • Improvised Zipline: A deleted scene had Bond improvise a 'flying carpet' by throwing a carpet over some telephone wires and sliding down them to escape the police in Tangier. Stills of this scene were seen in a lot of publicity material for the film, but it was ultinately decided that this silly scene did not sit well with Timothy Dalton's Darker And Grittier Bond.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: The bored girl on the yacht expresses her longing for a real man over the phone. Enter 007.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: MI-6 has a pipeline to the West. No, really, an actual pipeline.
    • Q shows off a boom box with an integrated missile launcher. "Something we're making for the Americans," he quips. "It's called a ghetto blaster."
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The fistfight while hanging out the back of the cargo plane. In mid-flight. With a bomb about to go off.
  • Ironic Echo: "Sorry, old man: section five, paragraph eight. Need to know. I'm sure you understand."note 
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Necros uses this trope to advantage, switching effortlessly when posing as an American jogger, a British delivery driver and a (public school accent) guard, then a Fake Russian accent when doing the actual kidnapping so people will think the KGB is involved.
  • Just for Pun: Bond's pipeline to the West is... an actual pipeline.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The American C-130 being used as a Soviet transport. At first, one could be forgiven for thinking its one of Whitaker's planes...until you see shots of the control panel and notice the wording is in Cyrillic...
    • And it appears the labels have been taped on.
    • Equally jarring is the presence of an American OV-10 Bronco among the assortment of Soviet aircraft on the airstrip in Afghanistan.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Bond is brought to someone at gunpoint. A villain? No, it's his old friend Felix Leiter, who just wants to ask what's going on. Justified this time, as 007 had just shot and killed a senior KGB official in front of several dozen witnesses and Leiter had no way of knowing it was being staged.
  • Kitchen Chase: One scene involves a full-on fight between a British intelligence mook and Necros in the kitchen of an MI-6 safehouse.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Necros infiltrates an SIS safehouse disguised as a milkman. He gets out by hanging a stethoscope around his neck, so with his white clothes he now looks like a doctor evacuating a wounded man.
  • Magic Carpet: There was a plan to put in a "magic carpet" (that is James Bond riding a carpet down some phone wires), but it was dropped.
  • Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Bond and Kara are locked up in a Russian jail in Afghanistan next to an unfortunate Afghan peasant scheduled to be shot for getting too close to the base. They help each other escape and when Bond and Kara are nearly captured and killed by the Mujahideen, the Afghan resistance, the peasant speaks up for them...and soon after reveals that he is actually Kamran Shah, the deputy leader of the resistance in the region, and an Oxford educated Cultured Badass.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Rosika does this to a pipeline operator as part of a Show Some Leg distraction ploy.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Necros' name is from the Greek prefix meaning death.
    • Russian Generals Pushkin and Gogol were named after famous Russian authors.
  • Meganekko: Miss Moneypenny (Caroline Bliss) wears glasses now.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Koskov implies Whitaker is one of these. Pushkin does more than imply, he goes into extremely unimpressed detail about the multiple ways that Whitaker fails to live up to the image he tries to present.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Faked sniping attack on a fleeing general → attacks on British agents and an illegal weapons smuggling network in the middle of the war between U.S.S.R. and Afghanistan.
  • Mood Whiplash: Versus Roger Moore's previous take. A lot of the Moore-era puns and silliness are there, but Dalton's presence generally gives the film a much darker atmosphere.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Bond and Kara escape from Bratislava by going over wintery mountains covered in deep snow and frozen lakes and soon after arrive in Vienna where it is apparently late spring. Bratislava actually sits right on the Austrian border and lies in the same Danube plain as Vienna, which is only 60 km away.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Necros strangles (with his earphones' cable) a milkman to steal his uniform and get into the MI-5 safehouse. The milkman isn't the enemy; he just had the right outfit.
  • Murderous Thighs: One female Russian assassin, who looks like a Brawn Hilda, is said to murder her targets with her thighs. Moneypenny quips that it sounds like the perfect date for Bond, which given what came out eight years later, it's quite ironic.
  • Musical Trigger: The stun-gas keyring is set off by whistling. Justified, it's disguised as a whistle-activated keyring finder. It will also respond to a wolf call by exploding.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The two other Double-0 agents in the opening teaser resemble Roger Moore and George Lazenby.
    • In the books, Smiert Spionom (SMERSH) were a constant rival to Bond. Their role was mostly assumed by SPECTRE in the film series.
  • Naked People Are Funny: During the Mujahideen assault on the airbase, when the guerrillas use a front-end loader to knock down the bathhouse as they plow through the base.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The blonde girl on the original movie poster (not the trope picture above) is neither Maryam D'abo, nor is she supposed to represent her character from the film (according to the producers). It's all just a big coincidence.
  • No One Could Survive That!: General Georgi Koskov survives a head-on collision with a plane which is followed by a massive explosion, yet he climbs out of the Jeep he drove with only some minor burn scars on his face. He's implied to have been executed offscreen when he was captured by Pushkin at Whitaker's mansion however.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Played With with Whittaker standing amongst a line of statues of famous historic military figures, initially unresponsive until the camera stops on him for a few seconds. It was more to impress Pushkin than to hide though — it doesn't impress him in the slightest.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • How Koskov deceives Bond and the rest of MI-6.
    • Kamran Shah also does this to fool the Russian prison guards.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Averted with Saunders. He seems to be set up this way at the beginning of the movie, but is far more helpful when he works with Bond again later in the movie, even bending the rules to help him. Since he's an actual spy and not an assassin, his poor performance the first time around can probably be put down to having little previous exposure to Bond's line of work. (And Bond's flexible attitude towards orders, rules, and plans).
  • Oh, Crap!: Koskov's reaction to Pushkin's "diplomatic bag" line.
  • Outfit Decoy: Combined with Vehicle Vanish. A KGB agent is watching Kara from across the street as she enters a phone booth. A trolley car rumbles past, blocking his view of the booth. As it passes, he sees a black Aston-Martin driving away, and Kara still in the booth. After watching the booth for a while longer, he gets suspicious and goes and opens the booth. Inside is Kara's hat and coat hanging over her cello case, with her having pulled the switch and jumped into Bond's car while the trolley was passing.
  • Paintball Episode: In the opening Double O Agents try to parachute and inflitrate the British radar station at Gibraltar as part of a wargame exercise. SAS troops try to stop them by shooting them with paintballs.
  • Panty Shot: Pushkin's mistress is only wearing some panties and stockings after Bond forcefully removes her robe, in order to distract one of Pushkin's guards.
  • Parachute in a Tree: This happens to a trainee spy in the opening sequence.
  • Phony Veteran: 'General' Brad Whitaker. General Puskin gives a scathing rundown of his actual military record, which begins with expulsion from West Point for cheating and goes down from there.
  • Playing Both Sides: Georgi Koskov's plan is to get the British and Soviet intelligence agencies to duke it out while he gets away with his embezzlement of Soviet government funds.
  • Pop the Tires: While driving his Aston Martin across a frozen lake, an exploding rifle grenade bursts Bond's tire. He uses the rim as an improvised cutter to cut a large hole in the ice, sinking the vehicle chasing him, then presses a button to deploy some skis and Spiked Wheels.
  • Prevent the War: The villains are provoking the British and Soviets into a confrontation with each other; however, they're not trying to provoke a war, just trick the British into eliminating General Pushkin before he can bring them down. Ironically, they do this by trying to convince the British that he might provoke a world war, being a homicidal maniac who's targeting Western intelligence officers for elimination in a policy that might easily escalate into nuclear war.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Brad Whitaker laughs like a child while fighting with Bond. Joe Don Baker called his character a delusional nut who fancied himself a military leader.
  • Punch Punch Uh Oh: Abstract example during the battle with Whitaker: Bond shoots his 8 bullets at Whitaker, just for all of them to be deflected by Whitaker's body armor. Whitaker then takes out a machine gun and rips apart the room.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Saunders plans to smuggle Koskov over the border this way, but Bond overrules him. "That's the first place they'd look." Indeed, Saunders is later seen looking on in exasperation as the border guards search the trunk of his car.
  • Ramp Jump: Bond performs a car jump to escape some pursuing Czech guards, some of whom try and fail to emulate the jump in order to follow him.
  • Ransacked Room: Bond walks in on Kara Milovy trying to tidy her room, which was thoroughly ransacked by the KGB.
  • Rare Guns: Bond uses a Walther WA 2000, equipped with a large night vision scope. Notably, they had an actual WA 2000 on hand for the close-ups, as the Walther logo is prominent in the close-ups of Bond's finger on the trigger. Probably part of the deal, considering the fact that James Bond is one of Walther's biggest film endorsers.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Bond was meant to be after General Gogol, the recurring KGB head played by Walter Gotell in every Bond movie since The Spy Who Loved Me. However, Walter Gotell was ill at the time, and thus, unable to commit to the film. So it was written that General Pushkin became head of the KGB as Gogol became a diplomat. By the time Gotell was well enough, he essentially makes a cameo as Gogol in the end.
    • Timothy Dalton revealed in a 2007 interview that his Bond was not allowed to have too much sex, because his films were released at the height of the AIDS epidemic. To this end, besides the woman in the pre-credits sequence, Kara is the only Bond Girl of the film (and whatever kind of intercouse he had with both happens entirely offscreen).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Pushkin gives a short but brutal one to Whitaker when he tries to appeal to him "from one old soldier to another."
    Pushkin: Spare me your military pretensions. What army did you serve in? ... You were expelled from West Point for cheating. A short stint as a mercenary in the Belgian Congo. Later, you worked with various criminal organizations that helped finance your first arms deals.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Bond forces Pushkin's mistress to become this in order to surprise and distract the incoming KGB agent.
  • Renegade Russian: Koskov's actions are motivated by a combination of greed and the need to cover up his misappropriation of state funds for personal gain before Pushkin can have him arrested.
  • Revealing Injury: Bond is able to prove to Kara that he knows she was the sniper, and is therefore working with Koskov, by pulling up her sleeve to reveal the scar she received when the rifle was shot out her hands. Actually Bond knows about the wound because he is the one who gave it to her.
  • Roofhopping: Bond makes a rooftop escape from the police in Tangier.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: A humorous scene involves Bond enlisting the aid of a husky Slav woman, Rosika Miklos, who works on the Trans-Siberian pipeline he's using to smuggle General Koskov across the border from Czechoslovakia to Austria. Her role is to distract the on-duty technician, which she accomplishes by unzipping her jumpsuit and shoving the man's face into her generous bosom. Once Bond is safely away, Rosika throws the technician back and slaps him soundly across the face, snapping, "What kind of girl do you think I am?!"
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The reason why Bond didn't kill the female sniper (Kara), although Saunders and M think it's because Bond Wouldn't Hit a Girl.
    Bond: Stuff my orders, I only kill professionals. That girl didn't know one end of a rifle from the other.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: It's a Bond film, so of course it ends with an "Oh, James..."
  • Senseless Violins: Kara Milovy conceals a sniper rifle in her cello case. It also comes in handy as a makeshift sled.
    • This is also the movie where Q creates the "Ghetto Blaster" — a rocket launcher that masquerades as a boom box. Q says "It's something we're making for the Americans."
  • Sexophone: Bond hitches a ride with some attractive CIA agents who take him to Felix Leiter after pretending to kidnap him. Cue the sexy sax.
  • Shameful Strip: After Bond has confronted Pushkin, an alarm is sounded, and Bond forces Puskin's girlfriend Kata to take her top off, but not because he has anything against her — he has her face the door so that when a bodyguard charges in, he's distracted by the now-topless girl, so he can ambush the guard. (Once he does that, he throws her a towel and tells her to lock herself in the bathroom so he and Pushkin can have words.) Later in the movie a prison guard orders Kara to strip (after saying he hasn't had a female prisoner in a long time) but Bond intervenes before he can force her to do so.
  • Shouldersup Nudity: Bond rips the top off General Pushkin's mistress to distract a bodyguard entering the room. The bodyguard's POV is shown as a shoulders-up shot of the mistress. This is followed by a Toplessness from the Back shot to imply her naked chest without actually showing it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pushkin, like his predecessor Gogol, was named after a famous 19th Century Russian novelist.
    • Two to The Third Man (on which John Glen had worked as assistant sound editor), also set in Vienna: Bond and Kara ride on the ferris wheel in the Prater, and just before, Necros (posing as a balloon salesman) asks Bond "Ballon, mein Herr?", words spoken by an insistent elderly man to Sgt Paine in the older film. Sgt Paine is played by none other than Bernard Lee, the previous M.
  • Show Some Leg:
    • Bond, knowing that a guard is coming he turns to a girl, tears her bathrobe off as she screams, and then has her face the door, distracting the guard for a few seconds when he enters.
    • Played with in that instead of the usual slim gorgeous Bond Girl, a husky Slav woman provides the distraction so Koskov can defect.
  • Shrine to Self: Brad Whitaker has had waxwork figures of himself dressed as various military leaders dotted around his mansion. Including one of himself as Adolf Hitler. Needless to say, his visitor from the USSR is visibly unimpressed by this.
  • Skeleton Key: Bond has a set of these helpfully provided by Q. He uses it to escape out of a pair of handcuffs.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Kara enters a phone booth, a streetcar passes by, and as it pulls away, so does a car. Only when the KGB operative following notices that she's been in the booth an awfully long time and gets confused and suspicious do we see what happened—Kara and Bond used the few seconds that the streetcar was blocking the booth from his view to drape her coat and a wig around her cello case and for her to quickly get into his car and duck down, thus allowing her to defect.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Kara gives James Bond a martini laced with chloral hydrate.
  • Smug Snake:
    • General Koskov, an effective and rather affable villain who so very much wants to be a Magnificent Bastard, but doesn't quite make it. In his favour, though, he does come equipped with one of the best EvilPlans in Bond movie history. Against him, however, is his rather goofy Happy Dance when things are going his way.
    • Whitaker is a better example, priding himself as a military genius, even though he's a disgraced student of West Point.
  • Sniper Duel: The film opens with one, but Bond quickly realises that the girl on the other side isn't a sniper at all - barely knowing one end of a rifle from the other - and refuses to kill her. He instead shoots the rifle out of her hands.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Brad Whitaker is something of a whiz at both history and military technology.
  • Spiked Wheels: Bond uses a Laser Cutter in the same spot on his Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which has the effect of cutting the passenger compartment of a pursuing Czechoslovakian police Lada 1500 off from its chassis. If that wasn't enough, the Vantage's tyres also have retractable spikes for grip on snow and ice.
  • Staged Shooting: Bond's fake assassination of General Pushkin, although what is really happening is hinted at beforehand and it is likely that the audience is not supposed to be fooled.
  • Stock Scream:
    • A butchered Wilhelm Scream can be heard when one of Koskov's mooks is about to be blown up after his flaming van falls off a cliff in Gibraltar near the start of the film.
    • It's faint, but you can hear the Wilhelm Scream on the outside after the third bottle bomb goes off.
    • Another faint and butchered Wilhelm Scream is heard near the end when Necros falls to his death from the C-130 plane. For now at least, this remains the last use of James Bond's variant of the Wilhelm Scream.
  • Stocking Filler: Worn by Pushkin's mistress. Bond rips her dress off to provide a distraction when Pushkin's bodyguard crashes into the room and it does the job quite nicely.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Kara never has sex with Bond (at least until the end of the movie) but you can't blame her for wanting to cheat on Koskov seeing as he tried to have her killed...except that at the time she didn't know that Koskov had made such arrangements and that Bond was simply a friend of his, making their affair rather skeevy in retrospect. This said, on top of everything else it's heavily implied that Koskov is taking plenty of advantage of the beautiful women hanging around Whitaker's compound to enjoy himself and isn't particularly concerned about Kara to begin with, so it's not like we feel that sorry for him or anything.
  • Tae Kwon Door: Saunders is killed when Necros uses a small explosive charge to propel a sliding glass door into him at lethal velocity.
  • Take That!: A debatable example; the other two Double-0 agents in the pre-credits teaser resemble Roger Moore and George Lazenby. The Moore look-alike simply gets hit with a couple of paintballs to be taken out of the war games, but the Lazenby expy gets dropped off a cliff to his death. Given Lazenby's infamous bridge-burning departure from the franchise after only one movie, you can't help but wonder...
  • Tempting Fate: "That it, mate. You're dead." Note, this is said by a guard who thinks the real assassin is involved in the paintball test mission.
  • Television Geography: The landscape of the Austrian-Slovak border is wildly inaccurate, but justified by Rule of Cool because of HOW it was crossed.
  • Throw 'Em to the Wolves: James Bond hands General Koskov over to the Russians he defected from originally.
    Pushkin: Send him back to Moscow. In the diplomatic bag.
  • Title Drop: Bond about shooting Kara's sniper rifle: "It must have scared the living daylights out of her." Retained from the short story it was based on.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kara, who takes it upon herself to rescue Bond from the Soviet airbase when Kamran initially says the risk in attacking is too great.
  • Truth in Television: Bond hesitates to assassinate General Pushkin, head of the KGB, because he doesn't believe Pushkin could do something like resurrect the Smiert Spionam assassination program. This is, for the most part, how professional spy agencies really work. You can hurt the traitors within you, but you leave their case officers alone.
  • Vehicle Vanish: A KGB agent has Kara under surveillance. He watches her enter a phone booth, then, after a streetcar lumbers by between them, a black Aston-Martin parked nearby drives off. It takes the agent a short while to realize she'd put her hat and coat over a cello case in the booth and gotten away with Bond in the car.
  • Villain Song: Although he doesn't sing it himself, Necros gets "Where Has Everybody Gone?" It's always playing on his Walkman when he's about to strangle people with the headphone wires. And his Leitmotif is the instrumental version of the song. The song fulfills the criteria of the Villain Song, in that while the Big Bad is a fairly low-key Smug Snake, Necros is the main physical danger to Bond throughout the movie, manages to get away with a surprising amount of successful assassinations for a Bond Villain, and gets a spectacular, over-the-top final fight/death scene.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Bond is drugged in Tangier and wakes up on a plane bound for Afghanistan.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Koskov and Whittaker are trading diamonds to the Afghans for opium. The Afghans use the diamonds to buy weapons, and then Whittaker sells the opium and uses some of the profits to buy guns that Koskov purchases for the Russian Army. Since the diamonds were purchased using the down payment Koskov paid for the guns the Russians are getting, they're essentially trying to arm both sides on the USSR's dime and profit immensely from it.
  • Weaponized Car: Bond's Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: 002 and 004; the former is outed from the training run almost immediately and not seen again. The latter is murdered by an assassin shortly thereafter.
  • Where It All Began: The film begins in Gibraltar and after much business in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Afghanistan and Pakistan ends in Tangier, just three dozen miles southwest.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • To The Third Man (you know, an Anglo-Saxon macho falls in love with a Bohemian performer and escapee who is trailed by the KGB and both then roam Vienna and especially the Great Ferris Wheel on the Wurstelprater, and the supposed best friend and most trusted ally turns out to be anything but unavailable. Oh yeah, and he coldly betrayed his girlfriend - the same one who ended up with the protagonist - by delivering her to the Soviets because she knew too much) Right down to 'Balloon, Mein Herr'. Not a coincidence - director John Glen's first job on a film was on The Third Man, and he explicitly mentions adding various style and plot references in the DVD commentary.
    • The film seems to reuse a lot of the elements of Octopussy. The plot moves along through the use of two 00-agents (both of whom are eliminated at some point), Is set at one point in Eastern Europe, then Austria for this film, Germany for that; Involves a Big Bad who in both films is a rogue Russian general, and uses a Smug Snake to further his ultimate goals. Both films have the reasonable head of the KGB (Gogol in Octopussy and Pushkin in The Living Daylights) trying to preserve the Status Quo against these rogue elements. Smuggling is an activity conducted/mentioned in both films. Both films have The Dragon played as KGB agents who murder Bond's ally. In this film Saunders gets chopped up by a glass door, in Octopussy Vijay gets chopped up by the Saw/Yo-Yo thingee. Both films wind up in or near Afghanistan and both films end with a climactic air battle with Bond disposing of The Dragon using the trope of a Disney Villain Death. Bond and the Bond Girl escape from the aforementioned plane at the last moment before it crashes in both films.
  • Wicked Cultured: General Koskov enjoys classical music and luxuries like high-end caviar and champagne. Necros though, likes cheesy pop music, so much for him.
  • Worthy Adversary: Central to the plot. Bond has dealt with General Pushkin before and respects him as a dangerous but professional opponent. Because of this, he is dubious of Koskov's portrayal of Pushkin as a Knight Templar who's declared war on the Western intelligence services. Correctly, as it turns out.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: James Bond expresses sentiments like this (in spirit, at least, since his business makes the division between civilian and combatant even fuzzier) — M accuses him of deliberately not killing a (beautiful) female assassin, but Bond counters that he's perfectly okay with killing females, the reason he shot the gun instead was that he could see from the way she was handling it that she was most definitely not the professional KGB assassin he'd been told she'd be.
  • Would Hit a Girl: M accuses Bond of the opposite trope, at least if she's beautiful, after he risks a defection by shooting the gun out of a female sniper's hands instead of shooting the sniper. Bond counters that he has no problem shooting women, beautiful or otherwise — what he has a problem shooting is people not involved in the spy business: he could see from the way the supposed KGB sniper was handling her gun that she wasn't experienced with guns and so couldn't be a trained sniper.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Played straight in the original story, but as Bond has averted this trope in past movies it's made a Justified Trope. In the movie, Bond is accused of this after his decision to not actually shoot the sniper apparently risks the defection. Bond counters that it's not beautiful women that's the problem, it's people who aren't part of the spy business — Bond could see from the way she was handling the gun that she wasn't experienced with guns, and so couldn't be a KGB sniper.
  • Wrench Whack: Used for a Bait-and-Switch. Rosika tells James Bond she's going to take care of the supervisor while hefting her wrench significantly, but she uses Marshmallow Hell tactics instead.

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