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Living Daylights, The (1987)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A routine MI6 exercise in Gibraltar becomes dangerous when an enemy agent kills one of James Bond's colleagues. Bond finds the body, with a note attached reading 'smiert spionen', a Russian phrase meaning 'death to spies'. Bond is ambushed by the assassin but gains the upper hand, kills him and escapes.

Bond immediately travels on to Bratislava, where he is assisting in the defection of Koskov, a Soviet general. Koskov escapes from his minders and is taken into Bond's custody, but not before an attempt is made on his life by a young female sniper. Bond has the chance to kill the sniper but chooses to shoot the weapon from her hand instead, claiming that she is obviously an amateur. Koskov is delivered to the West via a specially modified capsule in the Trans-Siberan pipeline, and is taken to a safe house in the English countryside.

During debriefing, Koskov informs M that he has defected to warn Western Intelligence about his colleague General Pushkin, who has become power mad and wants to halt the Soviet policy of d├ętente with the West. According to Koskov, he has begun the policy of 'smiert spionen' with the intention of plunging the world back into the Cold War. Before Koskov can explain further, the house is ambushed by Necros, a KGB assassin, and Koskov is kidnapped. Believing this to be the work of Pushkin, M orders Bond to go to Tangiers to kill him.

Discovering that the sniper was a cellist, Kara Milovey, Bond returns to Czechoslovakia to discover who hired her to kill Koskov. But upon examining her rifle he discovers that it contains blanks and he realises that the defection was not what it seemed. Kara claims that it was intended to make Koskov's defection look real so he could escape with her to Vienna. Bond promises to take her to see her lover and they manage to evade Kara's KGB minders, using Bond's specially modified Aston Martin to cross the border to Austria. They fail to find Koskov in Vienna, and Bond discovers that he has gone to Tangiers to meet with Brad Whitaker, an American arms dealer and the man who bought Kara her Stradivarius 'Lady Rose' cello. Suspecting that Koskov's version of events may not be accurate, and following a romantic encounter on the Ferris wheel, Bond arranges travel documents for Kara. They fly to Tangiers, but Bond is unable to prevent another British agent being killed by Necros.

In Tangiers, Bond visits General Pushkin, who is appearing at a conference. He threatens to kill the General, but Pushkin denies all knowledge of 'smiert spionen' and reveals that he was planning to arrest Koskov for misappropriating military funds. So Pushkin's death is faked in order to lure Koskov out into the open. Bond meets up with Felix Leiter, his old CIA friend, who reveals that the Americans have been keeping Whitaker under surveillance and that a major arms deal seems about to take place.

Before he can make more progress, Bond is abducted by Koskov, who has persuaded Kara to assist him. Awaking on a plane bound for Afghanistan, Bond discovers that a consignment of diamonds has been smuggled from Holland to finance the arms deal. Koskov hands Bond over to the Soviet forces and betrays Kara by imprisoning her as a defector. The pair effect a successful escape from prison, also releasing a Mujehadin captain, Cameron Shah. He is reluctant to help until he discovers that the profits from an opium deal will give Koskov a huge profit with which to buy more arms to use against his forces. Bond, Kara and the local Mujehadin troops launch a raid on the air base and Bond successfully destroys the opium and kills Necros.

Returning to Tangiers, Bond kills Whitaker and Koskov is arrested by Pushkin. Kara is given special status by the British government and is offered a special diplomatic visa so she can perform in Moscow.