A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Living Daylights is the 15th adventure in the James Bond series and the first to star Timothy Dalton. Made in the 1980s, it featured a concession to the AIDS era and showed Bond seducing only one woman in the line of duty, though other women are still treated as sexual objects. The PG-rated violence features heavy fighting, chasing, explosions, shooting, and killing, with only a little blood shown; the violence is not particularly realistic. Language is not an issue, except for a brief middle-finger gesture, and drinking and smoking are kept to the background, although Bond smokes a cigarette and drinks a whiskey. Opium smuggling is a part of the criminal plot. All in all, this is one of the less iffy Bond films and perhaps a good place for fans to begin. (The next film in the series, Licence to Kill, was an attempt to showcase a much darker Bond.)
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What's the story?
Agent 007, James Bond (Timothy Dalton), is assigned to help with the defection of a Russian officer, General Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe); his job is to spot any snipers and take them out. He suspects something's up when he sees the beautiful Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo), a cellist, not a sniper, at the end of a rifle. His suspicions are confirmed when Koskov is snatched away from the British government shortly thereafter. Bond befriends Kara and tries to learn Koskov's secret plan. Step by step, he stumbles upon an arms dealer and a plan to smuggle diamonds, but everything leads up to something even more unexpected, something evil.
Is it any good?
The movie smacks of its era, from its ripped-from-the-headline stories of a defecting Russian officer and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to its synthesizer-based theme music. But the fine cast adds dashes of color: the Dutch-born Jeroen Krabbe as the Russian general, Joe Don Baker as a redneck arms dealer, and John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark) as the head of the KGB. Caroline Bliss is a brand-new Moneypenny, while Desmond Llewelyn once again plays Q.
The James Bond films underwent another reboot with THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, the 15th in the series. Timothy Dalton brought some younger blood to the role; he was meant to be a bit tougher but also to focus on only one Bond girl (rather than the usual two) as a concession to the AIDS era. Director John Glen, who had helmed the previous dud, A View to a Kill, was kept on board, but he maintains an even pace and turns in a sturdy movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. How intense is it? How many characters have to die so Bond can save the world? Are there any consequences?
Bond is definitely a good guy, but his methods and behavior are questionable. What is appealing about him? Is he a role model? Does he seem "cool"? Is he someone to emulate? Why, or why not?
How are the women in this movie treated? Why are they attracted to Bond? Would any of them be interesting in a movie of their own?
How does Bond's supposed monogamy reflect the time in which the movie was made? How is it related to AIDS? How does it affect the character or the series?
What does it mean for a Russian citizen to "defect"? How was this relevant at the time?