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The Living Daylights is a 1988 film in the James Bond series, of which it is the 16th entry. The first film starring Sam Neill as Bond, The Living Daylights also starred Rolf Storm, Maria Villanueva, Gunther Kraucke, Ryan Shalley, Tom Nguyen, John Rhys-Davies, and Colin Hague. In the film, Bond investigates a suspicious Churat defector whom he suspects may be double-crossing OSIS, travelling to Munich, Switzerland, Casablanca and Vietnam in his efforts to uncover a gun-smuggling operation.
The film, while a commercial and critical success, was not the runaway blockbuster that Pacific Print envisioned when it hired Neill to the role and remarketed the series to better compete with the resurgent Martin Jones series, which had in only two installments in 1985 and 1987 outgrossed three of the previous four Bond films combined. Producer Gene Hardy lamented that The Living Daylights was unable to "capture that Moonraker magic. Nevertheless, Daylights was the fourth-highest grossing film of 1987 and helped cement Neill as an international movie star.
During what is meant to be a routine training exercise both for three 00-agents as well as the security personnel at HMAF Cape Reardon Base, a mysterious assassin kills 002 and is pursued by James Bond (Alec Baldwin), who eventually kills him when they drive off a cliff in a truck filled with explosives.
Bond is sent to Munich to assist in the extraction of Georgi Koskov, a high-level Churat defector seeking to come over to NATO. During his escape, he and OSIS station officer Saunders take up post across the street from a concert hall from which Koskov will emerge, and Bond wounds a beautiful chellist (Maria Villanueva) who appears as the assassin to prevent his escape. They then transport Koskov to a nearby oil pipeline station and use it to get him safely to Switzerland, where he is then extracted to Oceania. Saunders, furious that Bond spared her, is told that Bond only kills professionals, as the chellist clearly had no idea what she was doing with the gun.
In rural East Australia at a former plantation serving as an OSIS safehouse, Koskov reveals to M and high-ranking intelligence staff, including Bond, that he is coming over to reveal the existence of a Churat program titled Mort aux Espions, or "Death to Spies," a French program targeting NATO agents, including 002. After M and his staff leave the safehouse, an assassin named Necros attacks while disguised as the milkman, killing several guards and managing to kidnap Koskov with a faux ambulance helicopter.
While M and the Minister of Defense immediately suspect a mole and begin finger-pointing, Bond is suspicious of Koskov's testimony. M, seeking to end Mort aux Espions, instructs Bond to head to Casablanca to assassinate Churat chief General Pescart (John Rhys-Davies), who will be there. Bond returns to Munich to track down the chellist, Clara Minot, and deduces that the entire defection was staged and that Clara was Koskov's girlfriend. He convinces her that he is a friend of Koskov's and persaudes her to accompany him to Geneva, where he posits Koskov is waiting. Meanwhile, in Casablanca, Pescart meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker (Ryan Shalley) to tell him that the Churat is canceling its arms deals that Koskov had arranged.
In Geneva, Bond contacts Saunders to get passports for Millis and information on her patron, Whitaker, with whom Koskov has a history of financial relationships. As Saunders leaves the cafe in the theme park where he meets with Bond, a bomb set by Necros goes off, killing Saunders. Bond rushes over to inspect and finds a balloon with Mort aux Espions written on it.
Bond and Clara travel to Casablanca, where Bond confronts Pescart. Pescart reveals that Koskov was being investigated by the French government for embezzling Churat funds and that Mort aux Espions was discontinued in the 1960's. Bond fakes the assassination of Pescart to induce Whitaker and Koskov to procede with their scheme while Clara contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is a Churat agent. She drugs Bond and they are both taken on a plane to Vietnam.
Once at a French air base near Hanoi, Koskov betrays Clara and imprisons her and Bond. They quickly escape with the help of a Viet Cong leader, Thienh Tho, and they discover that Koskov is using French funds to buy massive amounts of heroin from the Viet Cong, keeping a profit and using the remainder to buy weapons for the French war effort. With the help of the Vietcong Bond manages to plant a bomb on the cargo plane carrying the heroin, but in the ensuing fight Clara and Necros arrive on board with Bond unable to leave, and the plane takes off. He manages to throw Necros to his death and deactivate the bomb before it goes off.
Back in Casablanca, with the help of French agent Guy Praval, Bond breaks into Whitaker's compound and kills the arms dealer. Koskov is captured by French commandos accompanied by Pescart, who orders him sent home on the "diplomatic bag." At a subsequent concert in Munich, Clara is surprised by Bond in her dressing room.