Thursday, March 15, 2007

Timothy Dalton As James Bond: Rated, Under-Rated

Yesterday at work I had to help put together a "Best of Bond" feature to coincide with this week's release of Casino Royale on DVD. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard many positive reviews, including some that say Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery. Hmmm.

In reviewing the details of all the films, I was reminded of how little I like the Pierce Brosnan movies, which more or less run together in my mind as one continuous mess of crappy dialogue, stupid (bad-stupid, not good-stupid) plots, and painfully unfunny humor. That string of lame films completely killed my interest in Bond movies years ago.

Ian Fleming would have liked Timothy Dalton, tooBut I was also reminded of something else, especially with all the talk of Daniel Craig heralding a welcome return to the darker, hard-edged Bond of Ian Fleming's novels (which I've actually read), not seen since before Roger Moore introduced his campy 007 in the mid-1970s. I was reminded   -- NSFMF -- that there was a return to that sort of Bond back in 1987 when Timothy Dalton debuted in The Living Daylights. Only instead of getting accolades, Dalton was heavily criticized and lasted only two films (and I thought the second one sucked, but not because of Dalton). What a difference 20 years makes.

Anyway, I've never understood why I seem to be one of the only people who thinks The Living Daylights is a really good Bond film   -- even one of the best. It's the last great Cold War epic, before the producers had to find new bad guys (generic "terrorists" seem so much less interesting). It's got a pretty solid script and interesting storyline. And it features an absolutely fine specimen of womanhood in the gorgeous Maryam d'Abo. Plus that scene of sledding down a mountain in a cello case. What's not to like?

I guess Dalton was too far ahead of his time. But now that the rest of you punks have caught up, I'm ready to go back to Bond-watching with "edgier" Daniel Craig at the helm (at least, assuming the critics are right and Casino Royale is the shiznit).

Now, if only the producers would just dump Judi Dench and get someone else to play M... Call me crazy, but that's no role for a woman, even one who looks manlier than me.