Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Living Daylights (1987) | Villains

Ever since Red Grant in From Russia with Love, the Bond series has loved to give us big, blonde henchmen. There's actually not that many of them, but there's still enough repetition that I usually groan and shrug when I see one. Necros is a step above the rest though (while not rising to Grant's level, I mean). I don't know if it's the accents that he's able to adopt or his wearing some great-looking glasses the first time he kills someone, but he's way more memorable than his counterparts in You Only Live Twice and For Your Eyes Only. And he's a Pretenders fan (though he needs to buy more than just that one song).

Brad Whitaker is the weakest part of The Living Daylights. I tend to like Joe Don Baker, but this character is infuriating with his stupid "pantheon" and his his stupid pretending-to-be-a-statue that makes him look ridiculous. He's a huge nerd too, but not any kind that I like. He's never participated in or contributed to the subject he's so passionate about, but that doesn't keep him from being an attention whore with judgmental opinions that he forces on everyone in the room. He's kind of like Hugo Drax for me. Both of those guys rub me the wrong way on a deeply personal level.

Georgi Koskov, on the other hand, is a great villain. Jeroen Krabbé is hilarious and exuberant in the part, especially early on when he's hiding his true nature. Even when he's revealed as evil, he's still entertainingly obnoxious. My one gripe about him - and it's a big one - is that he should have died in that Jeep explosion at the airbase. That's a very A-Team moment, and not in a good way.

Koskov's plan is pretty good. Unlike Orlov's in Octopussy - which was full of stupid errors and had no chance of not being found out - Koskov knows where his vulnerability is and takes steps to fill it. His mistake is deliberately involving Bond, who's just better and smarter than Koskov and Whitaker. But that's awesome. I want to see Bond succeed on talent and wits (and a gadget or two); not because the bad guy's dumb.

Top Ten Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Never Say Never Again)
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love and Thunderball)
4. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5. Maximilian Largo (Never Say Never Again)
6. Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
7. Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)
8. Doctor No (Dr. No)
9. General Gogol (For Your Eyes Only)
10. Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Top Ten Henchmen

1. Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
2. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
3. Grant (From Russia with Love)
4. Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5. Gobinda (Octopussy)
6. May Day (A View to a Kill)
7. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker)
8. Naomi (The Spy Who Loved Me)
9. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
10. Necros (The Living Daylights)


snell said...

I fear that for me this is again a case of villain confusion.

Bond has never met Whitaker, or exchanged a single word with him--so for the movie's finale to be a big showdown with him lacks any real dramatic tension at all.

Meanwhile, Koskov is the villain Bond has a real personal grudge against...and he dies off-screen, and Bond really had nothing to do with his death and capture.

Michael May said...

I agree on both counts. It's messy. I wasn't sure about how it could be fixed, but you cleared it up for me. Koskov should have died in the Jeep and Whitaker should have been handled offscreen. A line of dialogue about him at Kara's concert would have been fine.


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