Location Guide - Licence To Kill


The Bahamas
En route to Felix Leiter's wedding, the best man (007) and the CIA agent are stopped by the DEA who have the opportunity to nail the drug baron, Franz Sanchez, whilst he is out of hiding and in the Bahamas. Bond tags along "strictly as an observer" but is soon involved in the firefight. When the villain escapes, Bond and Felix go fishing, with 007 using the winch on the Coast Guard chopper to capture Sanchez's plane.



Key West, Florida
Back on the ground, Bond attends the wedding and reception on South Street, Key West. Bond receives the "Felix Lighter" but when Della, Felix's bride, is murdered and Felix maimed by a shark as retaliation for Franz's capture, Bond takes it upon himself to take down the drug lord. Bond arrives at Garrison Bight Marina to investigate Milton Krest who he suspects is harboring the escaped drug lord. After disturbing the peace Bond is summoned by M to Hemingway House.



Florida Straits
Off the coast of the Keys, the Wavekrest is continuing the Sanchez drug operation. 007, determined to take down the operation infiltrates the boat and when the Sentinel submarine is deployed with the drugs, Bond hacks wildly at the merchandise destroying millions of dollars worth of cocaine. 007 then makes good his escape by barefoot water skiing behind the escaping aeroplane and once onboard, dispatches with the pilot and makes off with the drug money.



Isthmus City, Isthmus (Fictional)
Arriving in the corrupt city of Isthmus (with help from CIA pilot Pam Bouvier), Bond poses as a freelance "problem eliminator" to get close to Sanchez. Bond discovers that Sanchez is on the verge of a deal with a party of Eastern businessmen to claim rights to his distribution channels in Asia and chooses this time to try an assassination. Midway through scoping out the villain, Bond is interrupted by Hong Kong narcotics and restrained. Sanchez and the Isthmus army (who are in his pocket) arrive in time to find 007 appearing to be the victim in the whole affair.



Olimpatec Meditation Institute
As a cover for the drug business, Professor Joe runs an elaborate meditation institute in the Isthmus foothills. Deep in the bowls of the facility is Sanchez's processing plant where he takes the Asian drug barons for a preview. Bond tags along, having gained Sanchez's trust but his cover is blown by the young protoégé, Dario, who recognizes Bond from a bar brawl in Florida. The climax of the mission occurs in and around the winding roads as fuel tankers (carrying the drugs) snake their way away from the Olimpatec facility.


Shooting Licence To Kill
Whilst much of the regular team behind the Bond films (including long-time director John Glen and Bond actor Timothy Dalton) returned for the hard-hitting Bond adventure, one key piece of the puzzle would be missing this time around. Pinewood studios would not be home to the 007 family and instead, all of the cast and crew journeyed to Mexico to shoot the picture. Churubusco Studios would play host to the crew, whilst extensive location shooting throughout Mexico would double for the fictional city and republic that is harbouring the story's villain.

On 18th July, 1988, Glen rolled cameras on his fifth and final 007 adventure as helmsman at Churubusco. The crew were occupying seven of the eight available soundstages at the Mexican film studio.

Above: Bond is wedding bound but when the opportunity for Felix to corner Sanchez arrives, Bond follows the CIA man to the Bahamas in order to capture the villain.

The grand Casino de Isthmus was not actually a casino at all, as gambling is illegal in Mexico. The building that doubled for its exterior (and Sanchez's hideout) was a gentlemen's club. Where possible, the casino was shot in the studio but that did not preclude stunt men abseiling from the building.

One of the more striking location shoots was conducted at Otomi Ceremonial Center, Toluca, Estado de Mexico which would double for the Olimpatec Meditation Institute. John Richardson and his team would later replicate the surroundings in model in order to show the seemingly gigantic "trapdoor" open and close to engulf Sanchez's helicopter.

It was on the Rumorosa Pass in Mexicali, Baja California, that the crew shot the explosive and troublesome climax. For seven weeks Reme Julienne and his crew worked in the baking heat to can this sequence. Many of the crew returned from this location with a haunted memory. The trouble began with the normally steadfast Kenworth trucks failing to start or encountering problems mid-shoot. By the end of the location time some of the crew were reporting ghostly happenings.

Above: After scoring a few million from the drug bust onboard the Wavekrest, Bond departs for Isthmus - the fictional republic harbouring Franz Sanchez.

By mid-August, the crew were across the border in Florida, shooting extensive locations for the first act of the film. St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church played host to Felix and Della's wedding whilst Robert "M" Brown gets out of the office to scold 007 at the famous Hemingway House in Florida, which gives writers Maibaum and Wilson the chance to use the pun "farewell to arms" as Bond resigns from Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Aside from a few exteriors the crew (let alone the actors themselves) never set foot on British soil to shoot the film. The offices of M and Moneypenny were both painstakingly recreated at Churubusco. This would be the first time that a Bond film did not use any part of Pinewood (whilst "Moonraker" shot primarily in France, Derek Meddings and his crew created the outer-space sequence on the 007 Stage). Glen finally wrapped shooting with a hot and tired cast and crew on 18 November 1988.