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Whoever she was, I must have scared the living daylights out of her.
The 15th James Bond film and the first of the two starring Timothy Dalton as the suave British agent. 007 goes to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia to help a defector get to the West. The mission is successful. Then the defector is kidnapped...
This is one of the most complex of the Bond films with a few good twists along the way, and a lot of great action scenes, as well as being one of the ones that feels somewhat like an actual spy movie, if still clearly a Bond film. It's also the last for the time being to have featured a (lead) blonde Bond Girl (or if you're feeling punny, a Blonde Girl).
This film contains examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The original short story is only about the sniper mission at the beginning of the movie.
- The story features Bond having to help a British agent escape East Berlin, by eliminating the opposing sniper. When he recognises her as a beautiful woman he saw earlier, he merely elects to wound her and prevent her killing the agent. M is not happy, as Bond's delay caused by adjusting his aim nearly causes the mission to fail.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the short story Koskov’s counterpart wasn’t a Fake Defector.
- Badass Bystander: Green Four, the security guard/butler who enters the kitchen after Necros killed the Chef qualifies. Not only does he manage to fight Necros for several minutes in a hand to hand fight (remember that's the guy who is supposed to give Bond trouble), he also most likely survived having been only knocked out with a frying pan.
- Kamran Shah appears to be one of these as well during his first appearance, but he turns out to be quite important indeed.
- Affably Evil: Whitaker is genuinely cordial to Bond, and this attitude extends to Whitaker’s allies and Pushkin.
- Koskov as well.
- Bathroom Break Out: General Koskov does this.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Koskov and Whitaker.
- Big Beautiful Woman / Letting Her Hair Down: Rosika Miklos.
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: In the original short story too.
- Blood Knight: Brad Whitaker is a war fanatic, despite the fact he's called on being grossly incompetent at it by everyone he meets.
- Bond One-Liner:
- "He met his Waterloo".
- "He got the boot."
- The Brute: Necros is a very cunning and intelligent example of this.
- Character Development: Bond refuses to kill someone who isn't a professional killer like himself and states he'll resign if they try and make him.
- Saunders slowly becomes less rule focused and more respectful of Bond.
- Continuity Nod: SMERSH.
- Deadly Delivery: Necros disguises himself as a milkman and a balloon salesman. Both times he kills his targets by strangling them with the cords of his headphones.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Bond dispatches Pushkin's bodyguard by using Pushkin's topless mistress as a distraction.
- Then there's Rosiko Miklos and her boss.
- Disney Villain Death:
- 002 dies this way when Necrosis cuts his grappling hook.
- Necros is thrown from a plane in mid-air to his death by Bond.
- The Door Slams You: Saunders is killed this way.
- The Dragon: Necros.
- Driving Into a Truck: A jeep evades pursuers by driving onto the extended rear hatch of a taxiing C-130.
- Elegant Classical Musician: Kara
- Evil Plan: Its a Bond film; of course the Big Bad has one. It involves the defector.
- Fake Defector: Subverted. Koskov’s defection to the West is faked, but he’s playing both sides.
- Frying Pan of Doom: Used in the aforementioned kitchen brawl.
- Genius Bruiser: Necros.
- Gilligan Cut: Bond informs Kara there is absolutely no way they can take the risk to go back for her cello. Immediate cut to:
Bond: Why couldn't you have learned the violin?
- Gets a Call Back not long after.
- Giving Them the Strip: Necros falls to his death still clutching Bond's boot.
- Groin Attack: Bond narrowly avoids being shot in the crotch early on in the film.
- Improvised Zipline: A deleted scene had Bond create an impromptu 'flying carpet' by tossing a rug over some telephone wires.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: MI-5 has a pipeline to the West. No, really, an actual pipeline.
- Interesting Situation Duel: The fistfight while hanging out the back of the cargo plane.
- Just a Stupid Accent: Necros uses this trope to advantage, switching effortlessly when posing as an American jogger, a British delivery driver and a (public school accent) guard, then a Lzherusskie accent when doing the actual kidnapping so people will think the KGB is involved.
- Lzherusskie: John-Rhys Davies, surprisingly nonhammy as Leonid Pushkin, and Dutch Jeroen Krabbe, hammy with extra ham and ham on the side as Koskov.
- Jereon Krabbe often didn't even bother with the accent, making his request for a "detachment of men and some trucks" in Afghanistan sound rather hilarious compared to his usual voice.
- Kidnapped by an Ally: Bond gets taken away at gunpoint not for nefarious purposes, but so that his old friend Felix Leiter can ask what's up.
- Marshmallow Heaven: As part of a distraction.
- Meaningful Name: Necros' name is from the Greek prefix meaning death.
- Miles Gloriosus: Koskov implies Whitaker is one of these. Pushkin does more than imply, he goes into extremely unimpressed detail about the multiple ways that Whitaker fails to live up to the image he tries to present.
- Mood Whiplash: Versus Roger Moore's previous take.
- Murderous Thighs: One female Russian assassin, who looks like a Brawn Hilda, is said to murder her targets with her thighs. Moneypenny quips that it sounds like the perfect date for Bond.
- Musical Trigger: The stun-gas keyring is set off by whistling.
- Mythology Gag: The two other Double-0 agents in the opening teaser resemble Roger Moore and George Lazenby.
- Never Trust A Poster: The blonde girl on the original movie poster (not the trope picture above) is neither Maryam D'abo, nor is she supposed to represent her character from the film (according to the producers). It's all just a big coincidence.
- Oh Crap: Koskov's reaction to Pushkin's "diplomatic bag" line.
- Paintball Episode: In the opening Double O Agents try to parachute and inflitrate the British radar station at Gibraltar as part of a wargame exercise. SAS troops try to stop them by shooting them with paintballs.
- Panty Shot
- Parachute in a Tree: This happens to a trainee spy in the opening sequence.
- Phony Veteran: 'General' Brad Whitaker. General Puskin gives a scathing rundown of his actual military record.
- Playing Both Sides: Koskov
- Reds with Rockets: Churned through
- Red Shirt: Most of the guards who Necros kills, with the exception of Green Four.
- There’s also 002.
- Sacrificial Lamb: 002, who is killed to showcase the “death to spies” policy.
- Sacrificial Lion: Saunders.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The reason why Bond didn't kill the female sniper (Kara), although Saunders and M think it's Wouldn't Hit a Girl.
Bond: Stuff my orders, I only kill professionals. That girl didn't know one end of a rifle from the other.
- And if Bond had killed Kara, she wouldn't have needed to dump the gun, Bond wouldn't have found the blanks, the British (including Bond) would have thought Koskov's defection was real, Bond would have killed Pushkin, and the bad guys would have won. (That, or it would have been a very short movie.)
- Sealed with a Kiss: It's a James Bond film, so of course it ends with an "Oh, James..."
- Senseless Violins: Kara Milovy conceals a sniper rifle in her cello case.
- Show Some Leg: Subverted in that instead of the usual slim gorgeous Bond Girl,
an overweighta husky Slav woman provides the distraction so Koskov can defect.
- Smug Snake: General Koskov so very much wants to be a Magnificent Bastard, but doesn't quite make the cut. His happy dance doesn't help.
- Whittaker is a better example, priding himself as a military genius, even though he's a disgraced student of West Point.
- Sniper Duel: The film opens with one, but Bond quickly realises that the girl on the other side isn't a sniper at all - barely knowing one end of a rifle from the other - and refuses to kill her. He instead shoots the rifle out of her hands.
- Sniper Rifle / Rare Guns
- Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
- Spanner in the Works: Bizarrely, had General Koskov not tried to have his girlfriend Kara murdered, then the whole plan would have gone off without a hitch. The worst part is there was no honest to God reason why he couldn't just ditch her when he defected to the West.
- He did try to get her killed by having her be the fake sniper. Had Bond not decide to break his orders, she'd have had her head ventilated.
- Other than Kara knowing too much and possibly leaking said info? Oh, well.
- Remember she knew of Koskov's plan to defect, which would have interfered with Koskov's plan to return saying he'd been on a secret mission for Pushkin. If she'd revealed that under interrogation before Pushkin had been assassinated...
- Spiked Wheels: A high-tech version using Frickin' Laser Beams. If that wasn't enough, the tyres also have retractable spikes for grip on snow and ice.
- Staged Shooting
- Stocking Filler: Pushkin's mistress.
- Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Green Four seems like a Red Shirt, but puts up a fight with Necros and nearly wins.
- Tempting Fate: "That it, mate. You're dead." Note, this is said by a guard who thinks the real assassin is involved in the paintball test mission.
- Television Geography: The landscape of the Austrian-Slovak border is wildly inaccurate, but justified by Rule of Cool because of HOW it was crossed.
- Title Drop: Bond about shooting Kara's sniper rifle: "It must have scared the living daylights out of her!
- Retained from the short story it was based on.
- Villain Song: "Where Has Everybody Gone?", for Necros. The instrumental version is his Leitmotif.
- Waking Up Elsewhere: Bond is drugged in Tangier and wakes up on a plane bound for Afghanistan.
- Weaponized Car: Bond's Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante.
- Whole-Plot Reference: To The Third Man (you know, an Anglo-Saxon macho falls in love with a Bohemian performer and escapee who is trailed by the KGB and both then roam Vienna and especially the Great Ferris Wheel on the Wurstelprater, and the supposed best friend and most trusted ally turns out to be anything but unavailable. Oh yeah, and he coldly betrayed his girlfriend - the same one who ended up with the protagonist - by delivering her to the soviets because she knew too much) Right down to 'Balloon, Mein Heir'.
- Not a coincidence - director John Glen's first job on a film was on The Third Man, and he explicitly mentions adding various style and plot references in the DVD commentary.