After 7 films, it was clear that Moore was done, and the series needed to be refreshed. Cut then, to this: Timothy Dalton making his 007 debut, and the series making a return to a more grounded and less ridiculous approach to the spy thriller.
Dalton gets dumped on, but I rather like his brief era, but maybe that's because I'm a fan of a more realistic and dark approach. That's also why I dig Daniel Craig. I will concede that each Bond has their good and bad points though. And Dalton is fine here. He was criticized for being humorless. Well, he's not entirely, but he is really dry with his quips.
Okay, the plot. Well, it's immense: Bond is signed on to aid in the defection of a Soviet, only to find himself stuck in the middle of a complex plot that also involves tons of Cold War intrigue, lies, deception, arms smuggling, the opium trade, and the Soviet war in Afghanistan (later revisited in Rambo III). Yeah, it's a lot, but it's all handled surprisingly well, and during its 131 minute run-time the film moves along at a pretty brisk pace. For the most part that is. It does start to drag some and get real drawn out during the final act, but it does conclude quite satisfactorily.
Like I said, Dalton is good, but you can tell it's his first film, as he is a bit stiff at times. Again though, I like him. Maryam d'Abo isn't the worst Bond girl, but she struck me as really wooden and rather blah. She's nice looking though. The film fares better with the supporting cast, with top honors going to Joe Don Baker, Jeroen Krabbe, and John Phys-Davies.
The stunts and action are staged and executed fairly well, the direction is fairly assured, and overall, this is a really enjoyable, sadly underrated romp. Give it a go.