Brad Whitaker is the true main antagonist in the fifteenth James Bond film epic The Living Daylights. He was portrayed by American actor Joe Don Baker. Baker also played in his last two Bond films as Jack Wade, Bond's CIA contact in Pierce Brosnan's first two films, GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Steven Rubin describes Whitaker as a "smarmy bad-guy arms trader."
Brad Whitaker is an international black market arms dealer. He is fascinated by war, but his actual military career is a failure, so he turns to arms dealing to organize his own personal military force. Expelled from West Point for cheating, he spends a short stint as a mercenary in the Belgian Congo before starting to work with various other criminal organisations that would help organise his very first arms deals. He loves military history and it is implied that he wargames various historical conflicts using automated miniature figures and effects, such as the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo, and Gettysburg. In a conversation with Bond during the confrontation, Whitaker believes that Pickett's Charge should have been made up Little Round Top and that if Ulysses S. Grant was in charge of the Union at Gettysburg, he would have crushed the Army of Northern Virginia, thus ending the battle.
Whitaker has a personal pantheon of "great military commanders" in his headquarters, which includes some of history's most famous and infamous figures, such as Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Oliver Cromwell, and Attila the Hun. Whitaker holds these men in high regard and calls them "surgeons who removed society's dead flesh". All representations of these "surgeons" (or "butchers" as Bond's ally, Pushkin, describes them) are sculpted to resemble Whitaker himself, which is highly noticeable when Whitaker hides among the statues waiting for Pushkin to visit him.
In the film
Brad Whitaker joins forces with rogue Soviet General Georgi Koskov to secure a large shipment of opium from the Snow Leopard Brotherhood in Afghanistan for $500,000,000 worth of diamonds that he had obtained from an arms deal with the Soviets. Once the opium is sold, Whitaker will have enough money to continue arms deals far into the future. At the same time, they attempt to use James Bond and MI6 to eliminate Gogol's replacement as the new Soviet head of secret operations, General Pushkin, on the basis that he has re-instituted an ongoing operation called "Smiert Spionom" (meaning "Death to Spies" in Russian). Actually, it is Koskov and Whitaker's men, especially their special henchman Necros, who are involved in killing the British agents. After thwarting Whitaker's plans in Afghanistan, Bond returns to Tangier to hunt him down at his Tangier headquarters and kills him after a game of cat-and-mouse in his gaming room, with him using high-tech weapons, such as an 80-round light machine gun rifle with an integral ballistic shield and a loaded battlefield cannon, while Bond has only his 8-round Walther PPK. After Bond hides behind a bust of the Duke of Wellington, he primes his key-ring finder behind it. Whitaker gets right in front of it and the key-ring finder explodes, triggered by Bond's wolf whistle. The explosion topples the bust and podium on top of Whitaker, crushing him through a glass display case containing one of his miniature diorama setups resembling Waterloo– he thus dies on the battlefield after all, Bond ironically quipping to Pushkin, "He met his Waterloo."
Steven Rubin describes Whitaker as a "smarmy bad-guy arms trader". Jeremy Black says of him; a "mad American pseudo-general, Brad Whitaker, the arms dealer, yet another figure with a Napoleon complex." Baker himself called his character "a nut" who "thought he was Napoleon." Paul Simpson describes Whitaker as "paunchy", and says that it is fortunate that he doesn't get much screen time. Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall say of him, "this egotistical US arms dealer models himself on history's most notorious dictators. In between orchestrating international arms deals, Whitaker enjoys re-creating battles with his vast dioramas and toy soldiers." They believe that Joe Don Baker, although amusing, was miscast in the role as Whitaker. They also criticized his believability as a villain, describing him as an "oaf" from the American south who nobody would doubt could easily be defeated by James Bond.
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