What Timothy Dalton's Third James Bond Movie Would Have Been About

Enter 007, who’s been summoned to M’s office for a briefing on the task at hand. The film would have seen Bond going up against Sir Henry Lee Ching, a British-Chinese entrepreneur and science wizkid who supplies hi-tech robotic devices to some of the world’s biggest companies but is suspected of orchestrating a series of “accidents” involving malfunctioning robots at other nuclear power plants. In the treatment, Sir Henry is threatening to unleash a computer virus on the world capable of paralyzing every military and commercial unit belonging to those who stand in his way, unless the U.K. agrees to withdraw from Hong Kong. 

Coming at a time several years before the U.K. did officially withdraw from the region, the film would have explored the unique tensions surrounding China’s role in the world as well as growing concerns over the threat of computer viruses. The adventure would have taken 007 to Hong Kong, Japan, and China, and would have climaxed with a Die Hard-style face-off in Sir Henry’s hi-tech high rise, which Bond would gain access to via a waste-pipe. In the outline, he eventually defeats Sir Henry by killing him with a welding torch to the face. 

Interestingly enough, the treatment also includes the introduction of a new MI6 chief, Nigel Yupland, who sees Bond as an anachronism of the Cold War, in a perspective that would later be incorporated into Judi Dench’s M for GoldenEye. You’re probably starting to see quite a few ways this unmade Dalton movie influenced Pierce Brosnan‘s tenure years later. More on this in a minute.

“The Property of a Lady”

Following on from the treatment, British writing duo William Osborne and William Davies, best known for the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito comedy Twins, were hired to work up the treatment for Dalton’s Bond 17 into a screenplay. This resulted in a markedly different film from the Wilson/Ruggiero outline, according to Some Kind of Hero, although both were credited in the draft submitted in January 1991. 

In their version, the action began in North Africa where Bond, under the guise of competing in a powerboat race, parascends his way into a Libyan chemical weapons factory, outwitting the facility’s hi-tech robot guarding system and Colonel Al-Sabra of the Libyan State Secret Police. Later diving into the water to escape by powerboat, Bond finds himself berated for failing to achieve the mission’s main aim of destroying the plant, only for the facility to then explode in the background, with the remains of the base’s robot landing on the bonnet of the boat. The action would then head to London and MI6 HQ where Yupland is on a cost-cutting mission, with Q Branch set to be shut down and Miss Moneypenny due to be married.

According to Some Kind of Hero, in this version, the plot centered on the theft of the Scimitar, a new stealth fighter worth billions in arms sales to the U.K. economy, which was stolen during a U.S Navy exercise. Tasked with tracking the fighter jet down, Bond discovers plans are afoot to use the Scimitar to launch an undetected nuclear attack on China in a move designed to force a regime change that would see hardline military leader General Han assume control. Once in power, the plan is for Han to hand Hong Kong over to industrialist Sir Henry Ferguson to have as his own principality. Ferguson is plotting from a secret island retreat in Kowloon, where he has been secretly supplying Han with weapons, helped by Las Vegas based gangsters the Vinellia Brothers.

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