So once again we have survived.

Death Hunt

tn_deathhuntAlbert Johnson (Charles Motherfuckin Bronson) is a trapper drifting through snowy 1931 Canada when he happens to come across some assholes betting on dog fights. One of the dogs is injured and apparently Albert loves animals (when he’s not trapping them) so he takes the dog at gunpoint. In order to smooth things over he gives the owner $200, but just to be clear he’s not negotiating. He’s taking the dog. It’s just like a convenience charge or a dogfight interruption processing fee or something like that. The owner of the dog is Ed Lauter, so this whole incident must be why they don’t seem to like each other in DEATH WISH 3.

mp_deathhuntWell, Ed Lauter goes crying like a baby to Sergeant Edgar Millen (Lee Marvin), a mountie who doesn’t give a shit about somebody stealing his stupid dog. So Ed does the opposite of what Doug Llewelyn used to say on The People’s Court, he does take the law into his own hands. He gathers up some of his yahoo friends, they track Albert to his cabin and shoot the dog, at which point he shoots one of them. Equal trade.

That gives the yahoos all the excuse they need to get Sgt. Millen after Albert. So a “death hunt” it turns out is the same as a manhunt but where the head of the hunt feels a bit reluctant because the guy he’s hunting is obviously much more respect-worthy than the shitbirds on his own team. He does have Sundog Brown on his team though, and you know he’s cool because he’s Carl Weathers. They also have this babyfaced rookie named Alvin Adams (Andrew Stevens). But the rest of the posse are not exactly the guys you want to be seen hanging out with.

Part of the entertainment value comes from these motherfuckers not knowing who they’re dealing with. Some of them get a little nervous when they find out from the guy at the trading post that Albert came in and bought 700 rounds. I mean maybe there was a big sale and he was stocking up, but it seems more likely that he’s planning to, like, shoot at people. They start getting it in their heads that he’s “The Mad Trapper,” a feared serial killer trapper who offs other trappers and steals their gold teeth. (Although that might’ve just been a story made up to scare trappers into keeping their disgusting mouths closed.)

Albert is pretty much your prototypical loner survivalist dude, a good role for Bronson to make likable. He doesn’t speak much in the movie and he doesn’t need to. We like him because of his Seagalian dog rescue, his John Rambo stubbornness and his masterful handling of the situation. He knows what he’s doing so he prepares his cabin for a siege. When the posse shows up Millen comes to the door unarmed and talks to Albert respectfully. He seems to honestly want to clear up what happened, and almost talks him out. But of course some dipshit on the team starts firing for no reason and turns it into a bloodbath.

In one of the most badass moves in the movie, Sundog throws a bunch of dynamite into the cabin and blows it up, but when they go to investigate it turns out Albert hid in a hole he dug into the ground so he jumps up and shoots at them. This movie is actually inspired by a real manhunt, and I was impressed to find out that this was one of the parts that was actually real.

In real life they don’t actually know who Albert was, but he probly was the mad trapper, and he killed the Lee Marvin guy, and nobody shot down the plane.
Of course Bronson and Marvin had done a movie together before, they were both part of the ensembe in THE DIRTY DOZEN. Weirdly my computer tells me they also both had uncredited bit parts in the ’52 Henry Hathaway movie DIPLOMATIC COURIER starring Tyrone Power and Patricia Neal. But this is the only one where they’re the two leads, bouncing off of each other, and that’s a hella of badass icon wallop. Both of these guys are obviously in the pantheon of all time badass greats, but I gotta give special credit to Marvin for being the one who worked with all the other ones. He co-starred with Bronson and Weathers here, with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Jim Brown, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, Toshiro Mifune, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Shaw, even, you know, Chuck Norris… he was all over the place.

Angie Dickinson is in this one too, it’s the end of her Lee Marvin trilogy that started with THE KILLERS in ’64 and POINT BLANK in ’67. But she doesn’t get much to do.

Director Peter “Death” Hunt also did ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, which in my humble opinion is one of the James Bond movies. Your mileage may vary. He actually was editor for DR. NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER, second unit director for THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and even did something for the title sequence of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. So I guess that’s how he got into that whole racket. This movie’s pretty opposite of that though, it’s not exactly glitz and glamour. Mostly dudes in fur trying to stay warm. The writers, Michael Grais and Mark Victor, also did MARKED FOR DEATH, POLTERGEIST, and, um, COOL WORLD.

Andrew Stevens went on to produce many important films in our lives including BATTLEFIELD EARTH, BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER, HALF PAST DEAD, THE FOREIGNER, OUT OF REACH, BLACK DAWN, SHADOW MAN, MISSIONARY MAN, and some of the DTV Wesley Snipes pictures.

DEATH HUNT is nothing fancy, but it’s a solid little movie. It’s mostly powered by that fuel of many a great badass film, the Mutual Respect Between Foes. Millen’s a smart and honorable guy, he immediately senses that Albert is getting railroaded and tries to give him every chance to clear it up. He’s ready to kill him if he has to but would rather not have to. Albert has no problem shooting up Ed Lauter’s buddies, but doesn’t take cheap shots at Millen and does try to take his offers. What makes it really enjoyable is that it’s two great characters in a battle of wits and survival skills, and neither one is really the bad guy. You root for both of them. I mean, how are you supposed to choose between Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 12th, 2010 at 10:26 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

35 Responses to “Death Hunt”

  1. Thanks Vern. This one’s actually in my Netflix queue so a review like this is the push I need to move it up. I think it’s on instant too.

  2. Nice! I’ve already made this comment in some other talkback but I just watched this the other day and was under the impression this review was already written. And now here it is written. Doesn’t this thing sound like an absolute beast on paper (or a white on black websight page as the case may be)? And yet the experience of watching it is that it’s “nothing fancy… a solid little movie”. I feel like if they had asked Terrence Malick for his advice on a cinematographer and then trucked that person up to Northern Canada we’d be talking about a classic here.

  3. “also did ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, which in my humble opinion is one of the James Bond movies.”

    Vern – Hilarious as usual.

    I thought DEATH HUNT had some comparisons to MAJESTY, which dealt more in personalities than stunts and gadgets like those 007 pictures usually tend to. I mean somehow Peter Hunt made one of the more badass moments in the entire Bond series when George Lazenby beats the fuck out of the guys who ambush him at a hotel room and before he leaves, he eats a quick caviar snack.

    I know you don’t like (generally) the Bond shit, but that is a title you should consider reviewing sometime.

  4. I actually think that despite that part where Bond says that thing about the “other guy” or whatever and winks at the camera, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE is one of the best Bonds. Gotta give it to Peter Hunt for his difficult snow fetish, snow ain’t easy to shoot pretty pictures on.

  5. OHMSS holds up especially well in light of Daniel Craig. I know Lazenby has said they were trying to make him “do” Sean Connery, but I don’t see that in the film at all. In fact, I couldn’t imagine Connery doing the genuine romantic scenes or the final shot. I mean, it’s fine for him to come back as Diamonds are Forever for revenge but yeah.

    Seriously, OHMSS is the grittiest, most badass Bond before Casino Royale. I do love the silly Roger Moore ones in their own way too though.

  6. Gwai Lo – Eh I liked it. Remember this was the first non-Connery picture, for a character that potentially was hopelessly tied to the star of METEOR so its like a (cheesy) acknowledgement that this aint the same old shit, a different Bond blah blah.

    Lazenby is usually considered the worst Bond, but I think he gets a raw deal. At first he comes off as not a visual stunner or a natural action figure or legit badass or any such things people demand from a Bond lead.

    I went into MAJESTY with the belief that Lazenby was the Colin Baker of the Bonds and came out accepting Lazenby as Bond. The fucker won me over, and I maybe don’t know why exactly.

  7. Last week, I ran across this interview with Ed Lauter (from a few months back). He seems like a pretty cool dude and has a couple anecdotes about Bronson and Marvin and DEATH HUNT, among other things.

    http://thescreenlounge.com/blog/80

  8. ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE: So good that INCEPTION just stole the entire third act. Which led to their having a scene so totally different from the rest of the movie that they might as well have dropped into the jungle and been chased by King Kong.

    But as far as random, “Well, this is out of left field and seems to exist simply because the director likes another movie” rip off scenes go, it was damn good.

    Oh, yeah, and not to get too far off topic, but DEATH HUNT: a very fun B-Movie with a great title.

    I was strongly reminded of it while watching another snowbound period action film recently, this strange little movie called NORTH STAR with James Caan, Catherine McCormack, Paulie from Rocky, and Christopher Lambert as “Hudson Santeek”. (Nobody ever calls him just Hudson, it’s always “Hudson Santeek! What are you doing here?” “We must kill Hudson Santeek!” ect). I strongly recommend that for review, Vern. It’s really something else. The director was one of Sergio Leone’s screenwriters and worked on GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, and this, which was made around the mid-90s, truly is like The Last Spaghetti Western. Everyone but the leads is clearly dubbed, there’s a lot of hilarious details wrong (The U.S. Cavalry have their crossed swords insignia upside down), the Indian village is cheesy beyond belief but deeply sincere in their respect for Native cultures, there’s a lot of really solid, excellent action.

    It’s hard to explain how odd it feels: it’s made exactly like one of those Django films from 1967 or something but filmed with modern equipment and actors from 90s films–it’s a real time-warp experience.

  9. This is a good-not-great Bronson flick for me. I like how Bronson re-teamed with several co-stars over and over again (Lee Marvin was in Dirty Dozen, Andrew Stevens was in 10 to Midnight, Ed Lauter in Death Wish 3). It’s almost
    as if Bronson had his own summer stock supporting players.

    By the way, has anyone ever seen the Jill Ireland Story TV movie where Lance Henriksen played Bronson? Never saw it myself. It’s a Lifetime type movie but having Lance play Chuck seems like an okay reason to check it out.

  10. This is going on the list to watch. It sounds a little bit like Seraphim Falls. Thats well worth checking out, a great badass turn from Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan.

    On Her Majesty’s… was one of the best Bond’s. Telly Savalas was great as Blofeld.

    Also, on a Bond theme, Shout At The Devil with Lee Marvin and the greatest Bond, Roger Moore is a fantastic film.

  11. OK don’t hold me to “fantastic” on Shout At The Devil. I just like anything that has Roger moore in a safari suit.

  12. DEATH HUNT was on a loop on UK TV recently – every other night it seemed to be on, which was ironic as it’s not been seen since forever over here.

    It’s a good flick, one of those were you see the cast list and subconciously you think, fuck, this is going to be THE best film ever. And it isn’t.

    I response to Jack Burton, re: the Jill Ireland Story – according to Henriksen, Bronson would visit the set and ask the director to shrink his part, as he was unhappy with it being made.

    And who’s gonna say no to him?

  13. vern: your next bronson flick should be telefon?

    that’s the one where these regular americans get a phone call and some guy reads a robert frost poem to them and they go into a trance and sabotage a nuclear power plant or hydroelectric dam: they are actually brainwashed russian sleeper agents

    they should remake that flick, considering the topicality of the regular guy next door russian moles this summer. megan fox as anna chapman

  14. BR Baraka – yeah TELEFON was a decent Don Siegel production, though what made it for me was that scene when KGB agent Bronson stone cold dead serious told his female sidekick that he’ll kill her.

    One detraction perhaps: NAKED GUN’s own plot was inspired by TELEFON. True story.

    “they should remake that flick, considering the topicality of the regular guy next door russian moles this summer.”

    Too bad SALT beat us to it.

  15. RRA:

    columbia pictures marketing dept called the white house and requested that some spies be unmasked one month before the release of “Salt”, preferably a hot russian female mole

    either that or anna chapman is a double agent: ostensibly working for the russians, but actually an intern at columbia pictures

  16. Baraka – Good to know Angie has that much political sway with the Obama White House.

  17. “Andrew Stevens went on to produce many important films in our lives including BATTLEFIELD EARTH, BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER, HALF PAST DEAD, THE FOREIGNER, OUT OF REACH, BLACK DAWN, SHADOW MAN, MISSIONARY MAN, and some of the DTV Wesley Snipes pictures.”

    Vern, you won me over with that one line. Now I will have to see this movie.

    There are exactly five (5) Bond films worth watching, in my not so humble opinion: “Goldfinger”, “On her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “From Russia with Love”, and the two Daltons. “Goldfinger” is the one that actually improves on the plot of the book. The plot of book of “Goldfinger” (and, come to that, the film of “From Russia”) make no goddamned sense whatsoever, but they’re both awesome anyway so I don’t care.

    There should be more hot Russian female moles exposed. In my professional opinion.

  18. Paul – no love for DR. NO? I think all of Connery’s Bonds are worth watching (except NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, maybe just as a curioso, not that it’s canon anyway..) I don’t remember liking the Dalton Bonds at all. The Dalton Bonds, in my opinion, are when the franchise stopped blazing its own action genre trails and started imitating the flavor of the day (in this case, musclebound 80s action). And I also like GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE. Now granted, you could level the same “imitation” criticism at the Brosnan and Craig Bonds, but their first attempts don’t really suffer for it. Whereas DIE ANOTHER DAY is a textbook example of CGI excess, and QUANTUM OF SOLACE is a textbook example of post-action shakycam bullshit. I would need to rewatch the Moore bonds to confirm but my younger self thought they were cheesy as all fuck.

  19. Wow , Ed Lauter sure worked a lot with Charles Bronson . I was thinking it was a trilogy of films ( Death Wish 3 , White Buffalo and this ) but he’s also in Breakheart Pass with the man , the movie I’m currently trying to find. Maybe they enjoyed working together . And it’s not Bronson related , but he was in a Tv-movie called “Undercover with the KKK”, that sounds promising. I’m looking forward to Breakheart Pass , but , I don’t know , this sounds more fun on paper. Charles Bronson under siege , courtesy of Carl Weathers ? Yes please , it’s Paul Kersey vs Action Jackson !

    It’s funny because they always picture Bronson as the quiet man , on set , and Marvin as the chain-smoking , hard-drinking , social kind of guy. Social , sure , but I never figured Lee Marvin as hard-drinking.

  20. The big problem with Lazenby was that he talked like a girl, ran like a girl, and hit like a girl. This would be all fine, unless you are supposedly playing James Bond, who should be MANLY. Even Moore and Brosnan were 10 times more manly than Lazenby. It’s somewhat ironic, since Lazenby is the only Bond with actual martial arts experience.

    Also OHMSS is filled with terrible blue screen work in action sequences, combined with lousy editing. It has some of the worst action in the entire franchise.

    Also the romantic angle was lame, as there wasn’t really never any reason for the audience to believe that Bond would fall for that particular girl, as there was nothing special about her. A big difference when compared to Casino Royale, where the chemistry is very strong and the character of Vesper Lynd logically stirs romantic emotions out of Bond due to her intelligence, classiness, humor and the fact that she is a feminine mirror image of Bond himself.

    There is only one good part in OPHMSS service, and it’s the final 20 seconds or so. Otherwise it’s the worst Bond ever made.

  21. Gwai Lo – Actually I consider DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER to be Connery’s worst, and its so fucking dull its easily one of the worst of the entire series. NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN never happened, nothing more than big budget fan fiction.

    I might agree with your Bond-Action hypothesis, except I argue it happened before. The last 007 movie that was fucking top of the game was probably FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, which was 1981. Afterwards, well….notice nobody ever brings up James Bond when they talk 1980s action movies. That is for a very good reason.

    Still GOLDNEYE did have that awesome leap-from-motorcycle-to-airplane-in-freefall sequence.

    Tuukka – Worse than my pick for worst 007 entry in A VIEW TO A KILL? You joking right son? Now that was a total loser, and man Moore was always old but here its just so sad, so silly, so disgusting. Dude was older than Tanya Roberts’ mother.

    yeah yeah yeah I’ll pre-empt strike some of you by saying that Chris Walken had nothing to do, about as much as he did for that Disney Live-Action Talking Bears picture.

    Also Duran Duran can kiss my ass.

    Still I suppose I give Duran Duran credit for (trying in) covering Public Enemy’s “911 is a Joke.”

  22. The Robert Frost Poem in Telefon, is the same one Jungle Julia and Stuntman Mike recite in Death Proof.

  23. OFF TOPIC:

    http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=28904

    “Freaky Deaky” by Elmore Leonard starring William H. Macy!

  24. Hold on, hold on, hold on. 1980s Bond Action: The trailer truck chase in LICENSE TO KILL.

    I will put that up against any action sequence of the 1980s. It rules.

    And THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS has some good action too.

    Of course, LICENSE TO KILL is barely a Bond movie, it’s more a standard Joel Silver-type cocaine / drug lords / machine guns / 80s actioneer that has Bond in it–as if he wandered out of his own film universe into an Arnold Schwarzenegger film or something. But it’s still got one hell of a truck chase.

  25. Oh, and I agree that FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is sort’ve the last True James Bond Movie. He (SPOILER) visits his wife’s grave, kills Blofeld (nice touch how they never show his face, a la his first appearance in the series) in what is sadly a pretty lame scene, though, and makes fun of Margaret Thatcher. It basically rounds off almost everything that had been running motifs through the series, and feels like the end of the arc of the character who first appeared in the Kennedy Administration. Everything after that may be called James Bond, it may feature a guy named James Bond, but it’s not really James Bond, y’know? It’s like everything after ALIENS: we all know the story really ended with Ripley and Newt on board the Sulaco, and James Bond’s career as a secret agent was from DR. NO in the early ’60s to FOR YOUR EYES ONLY in the early 80s.

    See, Connery, Lazenby, and Moore were all roughly the same age. When they started casting it with younger guys it stopped feeling like this was a real character with an actual continuity (in every sense).

  26. I agree that Lazenby was unfortunately not good at action scenes, but that could have been fixed if the director had taken the time to have him work on his stunt fighting. It’s like in movies when some hot actress has to “fight” and she clearly gets the moves down but just can’t be convincing in executing the force necessary to sell the whole sequence. You can only edit so much. But Lazenby got to be in a great production, that’s for sure.

  27. Well I think I saw them , but I don’t remember any of the Roger Moore Bonds , I will have to look into that. What I know is that I own a DVD case with all the Connery Bonds , and they’re fantastic , especially From Russia and Goldfinger. Eventually I will re-watch all of them, from Moore to Craig , but Connery is still number one. I even think he’s still the manliest of them all. Hell , he’s so damn hairy that he can easily go undercover in a Wookie outpost!

  28. The funny thing is that , during one of my Bond periods , I started reading the books. I finished the first 2 , Casino Royale and Live and Let Die , and none of them was ever filmed as a Connery movie. The sequel to the first one is a Moore Bond , the other is the first Daniel Craig. Strange as cinema works , somethimes.

  29. That opening credit sequence in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is really great. It has almost nothing in common with the rest of the picture and feels like a short before the feature. The period detail is spot on and the cars are fascinating. It’s as though someone dug up a documentary about auto racing shot in 1901, processed it and stuck it at the front of CCBB.

    Yes, SHOUT AT THE DEVIL is indeed “fantastic’, though I haven’t seen it since I was a kid. Also see THE WILD GEESE for more of Roger Moore in fatigues. Loved that one growing up.

    CC, you confound me. I strongly disagree with most of your post concerning the Timothy Dalton Bonds (they all suck in my opinion) but I strongly agree with your FOR YOUR EYES ONLY post. Though THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is still my favorite Moore Bond picture. The worst is VIEW TO A KILL. Bar none.

  30. Strange how cinema works , sometimes.
    Jesus.

  31. I’ve been really wanting to see Shout at the Devil. Where can I find it? Is it even on DVD?

    I really like the Dalton Bonds. Living Daylights is one of my favorites. It just has all the elements and great action. Love that scene with the guys hanging from the plane. It’s not the actors, but some badass stuntment really hung from that plane. That’s all I want. And I’m find with cutting to blue screen shots as long as there’s stuntmen really doing it from a distance.

    License to Kill never quite worked for me because it’s so out of character, but it has grown on me over the years. At least they were trying, and I liked Dalton, wish we’d gotten a third one.

    I’ll watch cheesy View to a Kill over boring Goldeneye any day. I really want to like Goldeneye for its pedigree, but it just can’t have it both ways. You can’t be old school Cold War and postmodern. Spy Who Loved Me WAS my favorite until Casino Royale. Now I think it’s Casino Royale, OHMSS, For Your Eyes, Dr. No, Living Daylights, then Spy, then Thunderball and the rest.

    But what I really want is for Vern to one day review them all. I respect that it’s not his thing. It’s technically not badass, but it is coolness. It would be a foray into popular culture, but from the important Seagalogical filmatist perspective. But I’ve also put in a request for The Rock and I’d also like to hear his take on the Highlander films so I shouldn’t be so greedy.

  32. The Man With The Golden Gun, easily one of the best Bonds. Nik Nak, easily one of the best henchmen/side kicks. Scaramanga, great bad guy. Roger, looking good.

    Never say Never did count, just for Kim Basinger.

  33. I would love to read Vern`s review of From Russia With Love, it`s an action-classic and the best bond in my book. Actually, as a fan of the books, it`s almost the only real Bond-movie, with great characters and a great story, before Goldfinger became a massive hit. The most bond-movies post goldfinger are usually unispired rip-offs. The exeptions being On Her Majestys Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, Licence to kill and Casino Royale.

    – Tukka
    Tracy is my favorite bond-girl, a great character and I totally understand why Bond falls in love with her. Lazenby might run like a girl, but he`s the only actor in the bond-franchise that actually makes the love-story believable. I can understand that women wants to fuck Connery`s bond, but he is an icecold asshole who likes to slap them around. Lazenby`s bond actually seems like a sensitive, funny and caring guy. And yes, it does have the some bad bluescreen and the worst wink-wink in the history of cinema, but it also has one of the finest action-sequences of 60`s cinema; the escape from the mountain-base, the ski-chase, the chase through the village and the following car-chase. And the soundtrack is awesome. Even the cheese is pretty tasty, if you`re into that sort of thing. Blofeld brainwashing a bunch of topmodels in an isolated mountainfortress and turning them into some sort of biological weapons, if I remember correctly. That`s good cheese rigth there!

    Anyway, wasn`t Sean Connery the first bona fide action-star and Goldfinger the first real blockbuster?

  34. OK continuing:

    I actually thought “Never say never again” was better than “Thunderball”, which it was a remake of. Although most of the Bond movies were better than “Thunderball”.

    “Dr. No” has no Kraken. How the fuck can you film “Dr. No” and not have the damn Kraken? It’s a decent film, but it’s not aged particularly well, and I don’t think it’s much compared to “Goldfinger” or “From Russia with Love”.

    “Goldfinger” is pure awesome, from start to finish, all the time. It’s the only Bond film that IMPROVES on the plot of the book (which was always one of the more fantastical). The book is pretty unclear as to why Goldfinger keeps Bond alive at a certain point, or how that amount of gold can plausibly be transported and hidden away. The film solves both of these problems. More importantly, it contains any amount of fantastic little touches – witness the smiling little old lady with the Biggest Machine-Gun In Film (TM) for example. Also its score is pure and utter genius.

  35. And more:

    “From Russia with Love” changes the plot so that it makes no sense whatsoever, but I don’t care because it has Robert Vaughn as Red Grant. It also has Rosa Klebb, who is one of the most singularly creepy Bond villains in the canon. Kerim Bey is, as in the book, one of the most sympathetic characters in the Bond canon, and his death is genuinely poignant in both book and film.

    “The Living Daylights” has what’s probably the best and most memorable cadre of villains of any Bond movie. It’s the closest thing in the canon to a pure spy story, with a lot of twists and turns. It’s also far more intelligent than most of the Roger Moore films (although let’s face it, you can’t get much less intelligent than the likes of “Diamonds are Forever”). There’s a minor character in this film, a KGB operative, who rivals Red Grant for the title of “Best Henchman”. At the beginning of the film he pulls of a daring “heist” that makes it clear just how much of a threat, both mental and physical, he is.

    “License to Kill” is a revenge story, pure and simple. It’s not as good as the others I’ve named, but it’s still far above the level of standard Bond fare. Pulling it up is Benicio Del Toro in a memorable pre-“Usual Suspects” role as a particularly sadistic henchman. Del Toro was already good enough to make Dario a memorable and worthwhile addition to the canon.

    “On her majesty’s secret service” – well, DNA has just said it all really.

    OK that’s it, although there seems to be a comment missing right now about “Casino Royale”. Specifically, me ripping it to shreds. Oh well.

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