Roger Moore was out and Timothy Dalton was in, along with the return of an Aston Martin to Bond films. This would also be the last 007 film to be named for a Fleming book until Casino Royale. It also has one of the few themes not recorded by a British or American artist, with Norwegian pop-music group A-ha contributing “The Living Daylights.”
There was a big search for the new Bond, with Sam Neill, Pierce Brosnan and Dalton all in the lead. Brosnan actually was the first choice, but when word got out, his series Remington Steele went up in the ratings and NBC decided to keep his contract. Brosnan lost out, the series was still canceled and he’d have to wait some time to play Bond.
Supposedly, Christopher Reeve was offered the role as well, but I can’t see him as Bond.
This film is about the end of Cold War tensions between the UK and Russia, most specifically MI6 and the KGB. A false defection, Joe Don Baker as an arms dealer, Maryam d’Abo as love interest Kara Milovy and plenty of sniper scenes. Felix Leiter even shows up.
Dalton’s Bond is a definite change from Moore. It’s closer to the books, a man who lives on the edge and is constantly at odds with what he must do. There’s less room for jokes and gadgets here. Your mileage may vary based on the era of Bond that you love best.
Joe Don Baker would later play CIA agent Jack Wade in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, making him — along with Charles Gray and Walter Gotell — one of three actors to play both an adversary and an ally of Bond.