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Film / The Living Daylights

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"Whoever she was, I must have scared the living daylights out of her."
James Bond

The One With… Bond going all The Third Man.

The Living Daylights is the fifteenth James Bond film by Eon Productions, the fourth 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 training exercise for Bond and the other 00-Agents in Gibraltar 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 (Jeroen Krabbé) when he visits the Conservatoire in communist Bratislava, Czechoslovakia.note  The defection works out, but Bond suspects something's amiss when the sniper sent to kill Koskov was the pretty cellist (Maryam d'Abo) 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.

Back in London, Koskov reveals that the new head of the KGB, General Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies), 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...

With the departure of Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton taking over the role, the filmmakers decided to continue the trend that had started in For Your Eyes Only and return to a more serious and dangerous Bond, and to a more realistic and espionage atmosphere, with humour and fantasy being toned down.

The Living Daylights is also the last film:

  • To feature a blonde Bond Girl in a lead role, until Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann in Spectre.
  • 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 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.
  • To feature Walter Gotell and Geoffrey Keen in the recurring roles of KGB head General Gogol and UK Defence Minister Frederick Gray, respectively, after appearing in each film from The Spy Who Loved Me through this.
  • To have drawn artworks as posters. Since the following film, the series has solely used photographic montages of the actors.

Preceded by A View to a Kill and followed by Licence to Kill.

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 MI6 safe house with an electric carving knife. The butler is able to hook his foot around the power cord and jerk it out of the plug.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Pushkin meets with an arms dealer, Brad Whitaker, in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.
  • 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 Location Change: The original short story took place in Berlin. In the film, the relevant scene takes place in Bratislava.
  • 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.
  • Age Lift: Moneypenny is noticeably younger than in A View to a Kill, from 58 year old Lois Maxwell to 25 year old Caroline Bliss.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Despite being a formidable henchman for the Big Bad, Necros immediately starts pleading with Bond once he sees 007 cutting off his own boot, which is the only thing keeping Necros from falling to his death from the airplane.
  • Almighty Janitor: Green Four, the security guard/butler at the MI6 safehouse qualifies. He's the first to discover Necros after he murders the chef; Green Four engages in a brutal, protracted hand-to-hand fight with Necros and very nearly defeats him, before Necros gets a lucky pot-shot in with a frying pan.
    • Justified, in that all guards at the safehouse are highly trained Military Intelligence agents, as are all the household staff.
  • AM/FM Characterization:
    • Bond listens to a jazz station while driving from Bratislava to Vienna.
    • Necros listens to "Where Has Everybody Gone?" by the Pretenders on his walkman.
  • 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 Licence – 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 Licence – Military:
    • Koskov's uniform is rather accurate, but has royal blue piping. While royal blue was the corps colour of the KGB, a generals' uniform would have common red piping instead.
    • Koskov also has an impressive Chest of Medals, including awards like Order of Suvorov that was given to the top level commanders for successfully planned and executed army operations; and the Order of Glory, that was given to soldiers and NCO for execptional bravery on the battlefield. Needless to say, Koskov didn't fit the criteria.
    • Justified with Whitaker, who is a self-styled general with phony awards.
  • Artistic Licence – 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 being overtly patronizing towards Bond.
    Saunders: 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.
  • Automatic Door Malfunction: After making contact with James Bond at an amusement park, Saunders gets killed when Necros rigs an automatic door to close extremely fast when the former walks through it.
  • Badass Adorable: While the adorable and Plucky Girl Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo) isn't much of an Action Girl, she still charges head on on her horse to help Bond during the showdown on the Soviet airfield in Afghanistan, inspiring the Mujahideen to do the same, and she also drives a jeep under fire.
  • 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.
  • Balloon of Doom: In Vienna, Necros is disguised as a balloon salesman at a carnival, where he kills Saunders with rigged sliding doors. He leaves a balloon with the words 'Smiert Spionam' written on it floating next to the body for Bond to find.
  • 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 MI6 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 Beautiful Woman: Rosika, the Czechoslovak pipeline worker who's actually working for MI6. Makes good use of her assets to distract the foreman for long enough to enable Bond to ensure that Koskov gets away.
  • 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: 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."
  • Blatant Lies: When Bond and Kara are trying to leave Bratislava in his tricked-out car, while he's still trying to keep her from learning he's a British spy, he claims atmospheric interference when she realizes that he's picking up the police band on the car radio, and after cutting a police car in half with a laser claims it must have been suffering from salt corrosion.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The assassin known only by his codename of "Necros". His name is probably meant to mean "death", but actually means "dead", as in the adjective, in Greek. The proper word would be Thanatos. Considering it's literally just one word, this seems like a pretty Egregious mistake.
  • 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 was kicked out of West Point for cheating, and in general is really only bumming around in Tangier.
  • Bond One-Liner: This film has significantly fewer than previous Bond films, in keeping with the shift to a more serious tone. Nonetheless, there are still a few:
    • "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. 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 Czechoslovak 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.
    • In reference to Bond's new ride, Q makes an offhand statement: "We've just winterized it." We find out later what that really means.
    • 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 playing the same cello with special focus on the bullet hole in its woodwork.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: 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.
  • 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:
  • Calling Card: Smiert Spionom, which is written near every spy Koskov has assassinated.
  • The Cameo:
    • Max the Macaw from For Your Eyes Only, now living in the kitchen of MI6's country safehouse.
    • 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.
  • Cat Scare: As Bond is investigating 004's body in Gibraltar, not with a cat but with one of the local monkeys that bounds past screeching.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Bond smashes a chair over the jailer as he is escaping from the Soviet airbase.
  • 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.
  • Character Witness: 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.
  • 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 from Bond shooting the rifle out of her hands. It allows Bond to find her again by looking for a news report about an injured cellist, and later lets him demonstrate his good will toward her by explaining how he knows about the injury and why she's only injured not dead.
    • When Pushkin goes to see Whitaker early in the film, Whitaker demonstrates the hidden drawers that pop out at the press of a button to display his sample weapons. During the confrontation at the end of the film, Whitaker distracts Bond by popping the drawers out while Bond is standing right next to one, and then grabs one of the sample weapons out of the nearest drawer and starts shooting at Bond with it.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The American jogger running past the safe house resurfaces a few minutes later as the assassin Necros.
  • 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.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Koskov betrays the KGB, British intelligence, Bond, his lover, and Pushkin. Pushkin has none of it in the Dénouement.
  • Classified Information: Saunders runs the old "need to know basis" on Bond; Bond throws it back in his face with his own.
  • *Click* Hello: Pushkin arrives at his hotel room for a romantic evening, only to find Bond waiting for him behind the door, gun in hand.
  • 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! [echoes 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.
  • Construction Vehicle Rampage: In the raid on the Soviet compound, one of the Muhajideen comandeers a front-end loader to smash through the barbed wire fence, using the steel bucket to block gunfire aimed at the Mujahideen troops coming in behind him, and when the Soviet soldier toss grenades, he scoops them up in the bucket and rams the bucket into a sandbagged machine gun emplacement.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cool Car: Bond's Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Naturally, it ends up destroyed.
  • Cool Guns:
    • Bond's cool but unusual Walther WA 2000. Only 176 were ever made.
      • Notably, an actual WA2000 seems to have been used as a prop for close-ups, as the Walther logo is very prominent. Which makes sense, given that James Bond's use of the Walther PPK is essentially the best marketing a firearms maker can hope for.
    • Brad Whitaker briefly uses a Mini-Uzi.
  • Counting Bullets: "You've had your eight, now 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.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Stunt coordinator Paul Weston is the training exercise guard who shoots Bond in the opening sequence.
      "Hold on, you're dead!"
    • Near the end of the film, John Barry appears in a cameo as an orchestra conductor.
  • 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 MI6 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.
    • Played for laughs with Rosika Miklos and her boss.
  • 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 as the driving force (GoldenEye is more about how Russia pivots after the bloc collapsed, but features the USSR in the prologue from years before the main action) and have the score composed by John Barry (and some would consider the score to be some of his 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 Has Standards: Bond will do a lot of things in pursuit of his duty and to fulfil his orders, but he won't kill innocent people who clearly aren't part of the spy business. The fact that this one's also a pretty lady clearly doesn't hurt. He's also not overly thrilled about helping the Mujahedin smuggle opium, even if it's going to Soviet cities.
  • Everyone Is Armed: All the servants, kitchen staff and groundskeepers at the MI6 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 Assassination: Bond is ordered to assassinate General Pushkin, the head of the KGB, after Pushkin allegedly instigates a new "death to spies" policy. Bond suspects the policy is bogus and fakes the assassination with Pushkin's help. He's right: Pushkin is being set up by the Big Bad.
  • 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 MI6 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.
    • Played straight with the Russian gaoler. "You will not be hanged in the morning. You will be shot!"
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Russian Generals Pushkin and Gogol were named after famous Russian authors.
  • 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 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 licence to kill.
    • In the prologue, Bond uses a parachute to exit a Land Rover full of explosives (and a soon-to-be-dead mook) that's been driven off a cliff. Later on, he and Kara use a parachute (plus Jeep) to exit a cargo plane that's run out of fuel and is about to crash.
  • Fruit Cart: The jeep chase in the opening sequence includes a moment where the jeep veers off the road and ploughs through a roadside kiosk.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Used during the kitchen fight, both a straight example and a variant; a thrown saucepan full of boiling water.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Saunders starts to explain the plan to Bond during the concert, another audience member shushes him.
    • When Bond arrives in Tangiers to follow Pushkin, he bumps into a pedestrian who is on the very edge of the curb he parks next to, who hastily moves away as Bond honks his horn. It is unknown if this was intentional or not.
  • 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 general 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, sitting in the parked Aston Martin, smoking a cigarette and looking extremely impatient and pissed off as he waits for Kara. He later discovers that it's not an ordinary replaceable cello, but a Stradivarius, making it much more clear why she refused to leave it behind.
      Bond: Why couldn't you have learned the violin?
    • Gets a Call-Back not long after.
  • 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 has the temerity to take credit for them bringing it along:
    Bond: Glad I insisted you brought that cello!
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: 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.
    • During the fight in the Afghan cell block, Bond kicks his opponent between the legs at one point.
  • Gun Accessories:
    • Bond uses a Walther WA2000 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 two other double-O agents, who just happen to bear a passing resemblance to ex-Bonds Roger Moore and George Lazenby, being picked off in a training exercise, which teases the identity of the newly-recast Bond.
  • Hey, Wait!: As Bond sneaks onto Koskov's plane disguised as one of the workers loading sacks of opium, Necros stops him. The moment is drawn out with tense reaction shots from Bond and also from Kara and Kamran, who are watching from a distance. It turns out Necros had just happened to pick the sack Bond is carrying for a spot check to make sure it's really got opium in; he never even looks at Bond's face.
  • 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 eastern side of the Iron Curtain distracts an engineer by unveiling her assets. When last seen, the distracted party is planted face-first in them while the defector escapes.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: This film has this exchange:
    Kara: You dumb, stubborn, stupid... [She beats Bond up with a pillow] Zadnyaya chast' loshadi!
    Bond: [stops Kara] What's that supposed to mean?
    Kara: Back end of horse!
    Bond: Are you calling me a horse's arse?
  • 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 Weapon: A whole pile of kitchen implements are appropriated in the fight between Necros and Green Four, including a red hot grill. The fight ends when Necros smashes Green Four upside the head with a frying pan.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: The bored girl on the yacht expresses her longing for a real man over the phone. Enter 007, by way of a parachute.
  • 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 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 a senior KGB official in front of several dozen witnesses and Leiter had no way of knowing it was being staged.
  • Kill and Replace: Necros strangles a milkman to death and takes his uniform and milk float so he can infiltrate the safehouse.
  • Kitchen Chase: One scene involves a full-on fight between a British intelligence Redshirt known only by his codename (Green Four) and Necros in the kitchen of an MI6 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.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Necros gets "Where Has Everybody Gone?" by The Pretenders as one. It's most notable in the music for the final fight between him and Bond.
    • In addition to his usual Bond theme motif, Bond's action scenes, particularly in Afghanistan, are paired with an orchestral version of the Living Daylights theme.
    • Scenes that feature Kara use an orchestral version of "If There Was A Man" by the Pretenders.
  • Lingerie Scene: 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.
  • Literal Metaphor: Bond's pipeline to the West is... an actual gas pipeline.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: The final fight between Bond and Necros ends with both of them clinging on the back of a plane, which is flying over an Afghan valley. Necros managed to grab hold of Bond's shoe, but Bond cuts his shoelaces, resulting in Necros getting thrown to his death while holding Bond's shoe.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Missed Him by That Much: In the workprint cut, Bond, M and Frederick Grey drive past Necros in his milk float just as he arrives at the safe house.
  • 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.
  • More Dakka: After Bond empties his PPK's magazine at Whitaker, who was hiding behind facial body armour, 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.
  • 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 MI6 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 key-ring is set off by whistling. Justified, it's disguised as a whistle-activated key-ring 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.
    • Whitaker, just before letting loose with a volley of weapons fire: "You've had your eight, now have my eighty!", calling back to Bond's final words before shooting Prof. Dent in Dr. No.
  • 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 picture above featured in this article) 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.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Bond hides behind a newspaper while sitting in his car observing Pushkin leave the trade conference.
  • 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.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Jeroen Krabbé as Koskov doesn't sound remotely Russian, choosing to lean more into a British/Dutch accent.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Played With with Whitaker 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 MI6.
    • 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.
    • Bond's reaction after dealing with Necros and realizes that after leaving Kara at the controls, she's been distracted and the plane is about to fly into a mountain.
    • A milder version occurs later. After dropping the bomb he intended to use to blow up the plane and the opium shipment before Bond and Kara had to comandeer it for their escape, and successfully aiding the Afghans against the Russians, Bond and Kara settle back in their seats, the battle seemingly over... and then the plane's low fuel sensor goes off.
  • 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.
  • Outside Ride: During the opening sequence, Bond leaps onto the roof of the assassin's getaway vehicle and rides along on top until he manages to cut through the roof and climb down inside.
  • Paintball Episode: In the opening Double-O Agents try to parachute and infiltrate the British radar station at Gibraltar as part of a war game exercise. SAS troops try to stop them by shooting them with paintballs.
  • Parachute in a Tree: This happens to one of the Double-O agents in the opening sequence training exercise, slowing him down enough for one of the opposing SAS men to reach his landing zone and make him the first "casualty".
  • Phony Veteran: 'General' Brad Whitaker. General Pushkin gives a scathing rundown of his actual military record, which begins with expulsion from West Point for cheating and goes down from there.
  • Pistol-Whipping: While "kidnapping" Koskov, Necros strikes him hard over the head with his pistol to make it look like he needs medical attention.
  • 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 Tyres: While driving his Aston Martin across a frozen lake, an exploding rifle grenade bursts Bond's tyre. 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.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In the original story, Bond shoots the rifle from the sniper's hands because he's reluctant to kill a woman. Because that wouldn't make sense to a contemporary audience, he refuses to shoot her because she's an obvious amateur instead of the professional KGB sniper he'd been briefed to expect.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • This was the first Bond film to have the word "fuck" in it, albeit inaudible (Bond is clearly mouthing it when trying to talk to Kara from the plane).
    • Q can be heard muttering "Ah shit" when he hits his head on the Vantage's roof.
  • 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. Bond thinks it's preposterous, but MI6 forces his hand by insisting there will be an assassination, Bond's help or no.
  • Product Placement:
    • Bond is sent to pack up a food hamper from Harrods. Koskov is delighted, calling Harrods a godsend.
    • Bond also found the champagne on the list questionable, so he takes the liberty of choosing a Bollinger RD instead, much to M's outrage.
    • Both the whistle-activated key fob and Bond’s car stereo show off the Phillips logo prominently when they’re onscreen.
  • 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! 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 armour. 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 (assisted by his car's rocket booster) 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.
  • 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 intercourse he had with both happens entirely off-screen).
  • "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." Whitaker weakly claims Pushkin is spouting lies that were made up by Whitaker's competitors in black market arms dealing, but it's clear Pushkin has done his homework.
    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 of her hands. Bond knows about the wound because he was the one who gave it to her.
  • Roofhopping: Bond makes a rooftop escape from the police in Tangier.
  • Rule of Pool: In the scene where Koskov is hanging out by Whitaker's pool with a gaggle of young women, one of the young women winds up getting pushed into the pool.
  • Satchel Charge: In order to foil Koskov's and Whitaker's Evil Plan, Bond, with the help of his Mujahideen allies, attempts to plant a satchel charge disguised as a bag of opium onto Koskov's cargo plane, which is carrying the opium he intends to use to make millions of dollars in profit. Ultimately, thanks to circumstances beyond the heroes' control, Bond instead uses it as an Improvised Weapon against an important bridge that Koskov's forces were using to rout the Mujahideen.
  • 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 and the technician's board stops lighting up like a Christmas tree with the travel capsule passing through the pipeline, 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 disguised as a boom box.
      Q: 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 Pushkin'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.
  • Shoulders-Up 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, although the viewer does get to see some Side Boob.
  • 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 original 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 Slavic woman provides the distraction via Marshmallow Hell 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, Pushkin 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.
  • 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 Evil Plans 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.
  • Suspicious Spending: Koskov's luxury tastes are already noticeable when Bond brings him some foods and liquor at the safehouse but the fact he bought a Stradivarius cello to Kara is definitely abnormal. This is the lead that allows Bond to find out about his ties with Whitaker.
    • Before his defection, he was about to be arrested for "misusing state funds".
  • Spanner in the Works: Happens a few times with Koskov and Whitaker's plan.
    • First, they figured Bond would kill Kara to better sell Koskov's "defection." They didn't count on Bond recognizing the girl was an amateur and spare her life which causes complications.
    • Then, they figure the British will kill Pushkin easily, not considering Bond, suspecting something up, would cook up the fake shooting.
    • But then Bond is hit with it as he doesn't expect Kara to tell Koskov about his involvement and get him captured.
  • 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.
  • Stuka Scream: The C-130 Hercules makes this sound just before crashing at the end after Bond and Kara eject from it in a jeep.
  • Sue Donym: When the villains are taking the drugged Bond out of the country disguised as a patient in a coma, they show the border officials documentation claiming that his name is "Jerzy Bondov".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: General Pushkin replaces General Gogol as head of the KGB, and fills the same Friendly Enemy role as his predecessor. Both have to deal with renegade Russian generals, and both have mistresses in private. Indeed, in the initial draft, Gogol was supposed to fill Pushkin's role in the story. This was because Walter Gotel's health precluded him from playing a major part in the film, though he still appeared in a cameo as a retired-from-the-KGB Gogol.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Whitaker has one that the money for the Russian arms deal was paid into. Pushkin demonstrates that he knows what money has moved in and out of it, so either it isn't one of the famous Secret Swiss Bank Accounts or Pushkin's investigators are just that good.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: An enemy agent walks through the front gate of the MI6 safehouse by pretending to be a substitute milkman. The gate guard makes no attempt to verify his story, arrange an escort or investigate the interrupted call of another guard who gets in a fight with said agent. Later he succeeds in kidnapping defected KGB agent Koskov. The fact that Koskov wasn't really defecting doesn't excuse the lax security. The incident is subsequently mentioned to have made MI6 the laughing stock of the international intelligence community.
  • 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.
    • Saunders, when he agrees to bend the rules to help Bond, remarks that the worst that can happen is that he loses his pension over it. Instead, he winds up dead. Although, to be fair, there's a good chance he would have been on Necros's hit list in any case.
  • Television Geography:
    • The landscape of the Austrian-Slovak border is wildly inaccurate, but justified by Rule of Cool because of HOW it was crossed.
    • Earlier in the film, Bond evacuates Koskov from Bratislava to the Gasometer of Vienna via pipeline, from where he's packed into a Harrier jet bound for England, while the Czechoslovak border guards watch on helplessly. While Bratislava and Vienna are remarkably close to each other (60 kilometres, or 37 miles), the Gasometer can't actually be seen from anywhere in Czechoslovakia.
  • This Is Myname On Foreign: The false Soviet passport Koskov and Whitaker to smuggle James Bond out of Tangier bears the name "Jerzy Bondov".
  • Throw 'Em to the Wolves: James Bond hands General Koskov over to the Russians he defected from originally.
    Pushkin: Send him back to Moscow. [beat] In the diplomatic bag.
  • Title Drop: Bond about shooting Kara's sniper rifle: "It must have scared the living daylights out of her."
  • 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.
  • Trojan Ambulance: A variant involving an air ambulance. After infiltrating the MI6 safehouse by disguising himself as a milkman, Necros radios in a report of a major gas leak within the building. This causes security to order an immediate evacuation. In the confusion, he abducts Koskov and — changing his disguise to a doctor by taking off his apron and cap and placing a stethoscope round his neck — he takes him out on to the lawn. A helicopter marked with medical insignia lands and Necros loads Koskov on board and they fly out right under the eyes of MI6.
  • Truth in Television: Bond hesitates to assassinate General Pushkin, head of the KGB, because he doesn't believe Pushkin would do something like resurrect the Smiert Spionom assassination program. This is, for the most part, how professional spy agencies really work. You can hurt the traitors within you, but you generally leave the opposition's case officers alone.
  • Tube Travel: Koskov is smuggled from Czechoslovakia to Austria this way, in a capsule shuttled through a gas pipeline across the border.
  • 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.
  • Visual Pun:
    • MI6 has a pipeline to the West. No, really, an actual pipeline. That was initially built by the Russians.
    • 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."
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Bond is drugged in Tangier and wakes up on a plane bound for Afghanistan.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Koskov and Whitaker are trading diamonds to the Afghans for opium. The Afghans use the diamonds to buy weapons, and then Whitaker 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.
  • Watch the Paint Job: When Bond checks out the latest Cool Car from Q Branch, Q says to be careful with it, as it'd just been repainted. The car is inevitably destroyed.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bond lashes out at Kamran Shah for drug dealing. His weak response is Russians doing drugs or shooting Russians, what's the difference?note 
  • Where It All Began: The film begins in Gibraltar and after much business in Czechoslovakia, Austria, England, 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 crosses the Iron Curtain (Czechoslovakia to Austria for this film, East Berlin to West Berlin 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.
  • Win Her a Prize: When they are at the Wurstelprater amusement park in Vienna, Bond easily wins a big plush at a shooting gallery with his aiming skills and gives it to Kara.
  • Worthy Opponent: 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.
  • 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 a rifle, 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.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Whitaker freely offers to give Koskov to Bond once he receives the opium shipment, only to learn it was destroyed.


The Living Daylights

The Title Theme Tune was performed by a-ha.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TitleThemeTune

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