Bond: The 1980s
The 1980s were the decade in which Bond wore out his welcome. The advancing age of two of the actors that played him was a factor, as was the fact that the series was becoming - in many respects - increasingly formulaic and stale. Actor Timothy Dalton would bring a breath of fresh air to the series at the close of the decade, but his tenure would be short, and the "right direction" for the franchise would remain uncertain.
The films of this decade are, in order: For Your Eyes Only (1981), Never Say Never Again (1983, with Sean Connery), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985, Roger Moore's last), The Living Daylights (1987, Timothy Dalton's first), and License to Kill (1989, Timothy Dalton's last).
For Your Eyes Only is a surprisingly good movie, and more closely resembles the earlier Bond films. It is a lot more "realistic" in tone, and the characters are less cartoonish.
Sean Connery's brief return in Never Say Never Again - itself a remake of his earlier Thunderball - is refreshing. Though 52 at the time of filming, he exudes a virility that Roger Moore always lacked, and the new cast members bring a lot to the movie. It also has a great villain.
The Living Daylights is a vast improvement over the previous film, A View to a Kill, even though it's not without its flaws. It features a lot of great stunts, and it's definitely the best-plotted film in the series up to that point. The characters make sense, the villain is engaging (if nonthreatening), and it compares favorably to other action films of that era.
License to Kill is NOT a very good movie, but Robert Davi is one of the better Bond villains. The chase sequence at the end is also pretty good.
Fun Fact I: Afghans and their fight against Russian occupation would also feature prominently in Rambo: First Blood Part III, which would be released the year after The Living Daylights.
Fun Fact II: Benicio del Toro plays one of Sanchez's henchmen in License to Kill.
The plot to Octopussy is a mess - even compared to other Bond films. Maud Adams, despite having a larger role in this film, has little to do and less of consequence to say. Some of the puns in this film are painful, and even Roger Moore looks bored with it.
Fun Fact III: the guy who plays the evil Soviet general in Octopussy would go on to play the evil Soviet general in Rambo: First Blood Part II!
Fun Fact IV: Roger Moore didn't want to appear in this movie, and James Brolin and Timothy Dalton were considered for the role. It was only at the producers' insistence that Moore eventually took the job. He was seen as the only viable alternative to Connery's Bond, (re)appearing that same year.
Much is made of the "eye job" Roger Moore got before A View to a Kill, but it doesn't look that bad. The real problem with this movie - like Octopussy before it - is the plot. Can anyone, for example, tell me why he investigates the stud farm? Or why he inspects the oil rig? Or why the hell Christopher Walken's character wants to blow up Silicon Valley? Yes, there are reasons for these things, but the chain of events is hard to follow, and Bond's reasons for doing certain things is less than obvious. Even compared to Octopussy this film is a mess.
Fun Fact V: If you squint your eyes real hard, you can see Dolph Lundgren near the beginning of this movie.
Fun Fact VI: David Bowie almost signed on to play the villain! Ziggy Stardust would have made a great Bond villain!
The Living Daylights presents another set of problems, even though this film is much better than Octopussy or A View to a Kill. The trouble with The Living Daylights is that Timothy Dalton's Bond is unconvincing. He seems too soft-hearted, and he lacks the womanizing aspect that makes Bond Bond. The villain in this movie is also forgettable, even if he's a more interesting character.
Fun Fact VII: Sam Neill, of Jurassic Park fame, was almost cast as Bond for The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan could have also played Bond in this movie, but his role in the TV show Remington Steele was a problem for the movie's producers.
This trend continued in License to Kill. In this movie Dalton's Bond is even less Bondlike, and is definitely the most asexual 007 ever. The editing in this movie is also terrible, and the beginning feels like the end. There are moments in the last half hour where it actually does feel like a Bond movie, but the rest of it resembles any other generic action film from the late 80s.
The only strange thing about For Your Eyes Only is the soundtrack. It starts off contemporary with a song by Sheena Easton, but the rest of the music was regurgitated from the deepest, darkest part of the 70s. Not sure what was going on there.
The theme from Never Say Never Again is guaranteed to remain stuck in your head for the remainder of your life. It cannot be unheard.
The theme song from Octopussy, like the movie, is entirely forgettable.
Many children of the 80s will remember Duran Duran's theme song to View to a Kill. You might think you haven't heard it, but believe me, it'll come back to you. The title sequence for this song is one of the worst ever.
Norwegian pop band A-ha did the theme for The Living Daylights. It's catchy song, though the orchestrated versions that appear later in the soundtrack grow annoying.
They went in a more R&B direction for License to Kill. I can't say it worked all that well.
The actress that plays Melina in For Your Eyes Only is very beautiful, but she doesn't have any chemistry with Roger Moore.
Barbara Carrera is fantastic in Never Say Never Again, and she gets my vote for best Bond girl ever. She's wonderful - right down to that ridiculous outfit she's wearing near the end. Kim Basinger also makes an early appearance in this movie, and she puts the earlier version of Domino to shame.
As beautiful as Maud Adams is in Octopussy, that movie makes me feel sorry for her. She was better served by her smaller part in the Man with the Golden Gun. I would also agree with her that naming her character "Octopussy" was a step too far. That kind of thing might have flown in the 60s, but in 1983 it just sounded ridiculous.
Grace Jones is the most memorable Bond girl from A View to a Kill. Tanya Roberts, who later appears as Bond's main love interest, is very beautiful, but she spends a lot of the movie screaming and making a general nuisance of herself.
Maryam d'Abo, who appears as Bond's only (!) love interest in The Living Daylights, is - in my opinion - too damn thin to be attractive. She looks about 12 years old.
Talisa Soto, who appears in License to Kill, is extremely beautiful. If Barbara Carrera wasn't so much more interesting in Never Say Never Again, I'd say she was the best Bond girl of the 80s.
Fun Fact IX: Talisa Soto would go on to star in Vampirella, a direct-to-video movie based on the comic book series of the same name.
Where Does Bond Go?
Starting with For Your Eyes Only and ending with License to Kill, Bond goes from London to Italy, to Albania, to Greece, to London (again), to India, to West Germany, to East Germany, to West Germany (again), to India (again), to Siberia, to London (again? or is that supposed to be in France?), to France, to the USA, to Czechoslovakia, to Austria, to London, to Morocco, to Austria (again), to Morocco (again), to Afghanistan, to Morocco (again), to London (again), to the USA, to the Bahamas, to "the Republic of Isthmus" (I think it was supposed to be Panama).
As Never Say Never Again is a "non-Eon" film, I have omitted his travels in that movie from the above list.
Fun Fact X: Most of the underwater scenes in For Your Eyes Only were actually shot in the Bahamas, not Greece!
And in Conclusion...
No conclusion yet! On to the 90s!
Other Bond entries:
Bond: The 1960s
Bond: The 1970s
Bond: The 1990s
Bond: 2002 to the Present
Bond: The Conclusion!