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YMMV / The Living Daylights

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  • Awesome Music: The last Bond film to have a soundtrack written by legendary composer John Barry, the soundtrack also sports one of the better Bond themes of The '80s courtesy of a-ha, and two tracks by Pretenders.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Some might see the final battle between Bond and Whittaker as this, with Bond defeating him by dropping a bust on him despite being outmatched in a tight space by both superior armor and firepower.
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    • Koskov himself, who relies more on Necros and his soldiers to take care of Bond at the airbase, before being easily nabbed by Pushkin when he returns to Tangier.
    • Funnily enough, both 002 and 004, the first being taken down by the SAS mere moments after landing while the latter is seen falling to his death by an assassin immediately after.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Fans were divided over Timothy Dalton's take. Some loved his hard-edged portrayal of Bond; others agreed with Roger Moore's assessment that the role was too preposterous to be taken seriously.
  • "Common Knowledge": In post-9/11 hindsight, a casual observer can be forgiven for thinking Bond teaming up with the Afghani Mujahideen as a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, in part because of an incorrect belief that the Mujahideen became the Taliban and, thus, the enemies of the West in the War on Terror. The Taliban was a radical student movement (the name comes from the Arabic "talib" which means "student") that took over Afghanistan, after the Soviets were kicked out and also after the Mujahideen began fighting amongst themselves for control of the country. In other words, the Taliban and the Mujahideen are in fact enemies. Kamran Shah in particular — being an Oxford-educated freedom fighter who casually teams up with a British spy and a Czech woman — would probably be marked for death as soon as they took power; if anything, the real "Funny Aneurysm" Moment is that the character of Kamran Shah, if he didn't flee the country, was most likely murdered off-screen at some point after the movie.
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  • Ending Fatigue: The final confrontation between Bond and Whittaker can be seen as this, being a short gunfight between England's greatest super-spy and a pudgy arms dealer with delusions of grandeur. Despite Whittaker's exotic weaponry, it just comes across as a way for the writers to quickly get rid of the main villain after the climactic battle with Necros.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Necros. He's the best of the Red Grant clones, gets two sweet-ass fight scenes, has his own theme song and gadgets, and is probably the most competent and ruthless of the villains. As a result, he's very well-regarded by Bond fans.
    • Green Four, the surprisingly badass MI6 Red Shirt who has a brutal fight with Necros in the safehouse kitchen, is very popular with the fanbase.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Necros. The swimming pool scene. Oh so very much. In fact, he's one of the very few male examples in the Bond movies.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • At the beginning, Koskov is questioning Bond about the sniper Bond disarmed (Kara). Only later in the film do we realize that he was trying to see if Kara had been eliminated to avoid revealing the truth about the "extraction".
    • Bond is also notably curt in cutting off Koskov's line of questioning, giving an answer that essentially lets Koskov draw his own conclusions ("I'd rather not talk about it."). Having clocked that the sniper wasn't a professional, he's got some early suspicions that all might not be as it seems with Koskov's defection.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the denouement, the Mujaheddin (in the same full desert dress and carrying *bandoliers*) burst into the room where Bond and the others are celebrating saying, "Sorry we're late. We had a little trouble at the airport."
  • Harsher in Hindsight: While leaving Bratislava, Bond says to Saunders, "Go ahead. Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I'll thank him for it." In Licence to Kill, Bond deserts MI-6 to avenge Felix Leiter and his wife. Then, in real life, LTK underperformed in theaters, leading the franchise into a six-year long Development Hell which saw Timothy Dalton leaving the series.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In a case of accidental foreshadowing, while showing Bond profiles of KGB assassins, Q describes one whose method is strangulation with her thighs. Ms. Moneypenny even quips to Bond that "she's just your type". (There might have been some connection, had said assassin not been a Brawn Hilda.)
    • When it was clear that Roger Moore was serious about retiring, it was briefly decided to make the next film a prequel showing James Bond as a young man. Cubby Broccoli shot this down, because he thought no-one would be interested in seeing 007 as a rookie. Flash forward twenty years...
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Julie T. Wallace as Rosika Miklos.
    • The agent only known as Green Four who gives Necros a good fight in the MI6 safehouse kitchen.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Christian Shepard as Felix.
  • The Scrappy:
    • John Terry as Felix Leiter, who has all of four minutes of screentime and in the words of one critic has "zero chemistry" with Timothy Dalton's Bond. His brushed-off cameo of an appearance is especially jarring when you consider that it's the first time the character has appeared since all the way back in Live and Let Die, and his long-running chemistry with Bond would be a vital point in the next movie.
    • While not the worst Bond villains out there and certainly by no means incompetent, General Koskov and Brad Whittaker are considered underwhelming and forgettable. Not helping matters is how they are overshadowed by the Dragon Necros and are sandwiched between the wonderfully Evil Is Hammy Max Zorin and the scarily realistic Franz Sanchez. To many, they are the Bond franchise equivalent to what Ratcliffe is to the Disney Animated Canon. Perhaps even the producers agreed to an extent, as Joe Don Baker was brought back eight years later as a completely different character and no one noticed.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • With the Daniel Craig Bond films, it's harder to appreciate Timothy Dalton's portrayal of Bond in this film and Licence to Kill, where the producers were specifically trying to create a darker Bond to differentiate from the often-comical Roger Moore films. The difference between Craig and Dalton is that Craig's Bond completely breaks the formula, whereas Dalton's tries to recreate Ian Fleming's Bond within the established Bond movie formula.
    • Ironically, Dalton's more grim and cynical Bond ("If he fires me, I'll thank him for it!") was one of the things that most divided fans of the franchise at the time. In this sense, Dalton's Bond to some degree has been re-evaluated as being somewhat ahead of its time.
  • Tear Jerker: Saunders's death. It happened just after he finally thawed.
  • Vindicated by History: Dalton's taciturn, violent portrayal of Bond is now considered to be almost prophetic, as it heralded Daniel Craig's rendition of the character by nearly twenty years. At the time, most viewers had grown comfortable with Roger Moore's lighthearted Bond. As well, this film became dated very quickly due to The Great Politics Mess-Up. Today, however, it is looked back upon as an interesting cold war spy story.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: General Pushkin was supposed to be a recurring character upon replacing General Gogol, in the wake of actor Walter Gotell's failing health. Sadly, this did not come to pass, despite the standout performance of John Rhys-Davies in this film. In defense of the producers, this was partly because by the time Russia was again the central focus of a James Bond movie, The Great Politics Mess-Up had occurred.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: The original script refers to Necros as a "Greek terrorist assassin", and one would thus expect him to look Mediterranean, but he's played by the very Aryan Andreas Wisniewski. Either there were some changes between the script and the final film, or it's this.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Saunders is killed by a sheet of glass that stabs right through him. 004 falls to his death after his rappelling rope is cut. Necros is killed by Bond's direct action of cutting his bootlace so that Necros would fall to his death. And Whitaker is crushed to death by a bust of Wellington.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After the negative reception of A View to a Kill, and in time for the series' 25th anniversary, this film gave as a much more serious, back-to-basics film that was a welcome relief following the lighter nature of the Roger Moore era.
  • The Woobie: Kara. She has her arm injured as she pretends to be a sniper to aid her Big Bad Friend Koskov's plan to fake his defection (with Koskov fully intending that she be killed by Bond during it), is arrested by the KGB, has her apartment and all her possessions (save for her cello) destroyed, and is duped into believing Bond was faking all the incredibly nice things he'd done for her to betray her to the KGB and aiding Koskov in capturing Bond by drugging him. Then she finds out that Bond was the one who gave her the arm injury, that he actually meant the incredibly nice things he did, and that Koskov lied to her. THEN, Koskov betrays her *again*, outright tells her she's heading to a Fate Worse than Death (by exile to Siberia). Honestly, you want to hug her by the time you get to the last third of the movie. Oh, and her Stradivarius cello was shot.


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