Fan Reviews - "Licence To Kill"
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"Licence To Kill" by Luds
Following up on Dalton's highly praised initial performance
as James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987), producer Michael
G. Wilson would team up with Bond veteran script writer Dick Maibaum
and deliver a script to Dalton's strengths for "Licence To Kill" filled with tension, toughness, intensity and grit.
Once again, Dalton's performance would be acclaimed by Fleming
fans as many knowledgeable Bond fans realized that Dalton's
portrayal of 007 was the closest to date to Ian Fleming's
written Bond. Connery successfully achieved it in the 60's,
but Moore's performances made many serious Bond fans cringe,
just as much as Brosnan would throughout the 90's. Their
lack of realism, toughness and seriousness would be replaced by
charm, charisma and humour, two recipes that are often considered
as opposites to make a "good" Bond, by many fans.
"Licence To Kill" was a groundbreaking movie for the Bond franchise and many
ways. First off, it was the first movie not to use an Ian Fleming
title (although 4 titles still remained: Quantum of Solace, Risico,
The Hildebrand Rarity, and The Property of a Lady). Some unused
Fleming material and character names would be used however. Secondly,
it was only the 2nd movie not to be shot at Pinewood studios in
England (it was shot at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City).
The movie starts in a very un-Bond situation as Bond's
friend Felix Leiter (played by the returning David Hedison who
incarnated the role in 1973's Live And Let Die) is about
to get married to his fiancé Della (Priscilla Barnes).
Leiter and Bond learn that drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi)
is nearby looking for his girlfriend Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto)
who left him for another man. Bond and Leiter team up and catch
the villain, which leads to the "Licence To Kill" theme song and gun barrel
sequence. The first double-cross of the movie occurs when Leiter's
friend and fellow DEA officer Killifer (Everett McGill) arranges
for Sanchez' escape for a hefty bribe. Sanchez and henchman
Dario (Benicio Del Toro) come back for Leiter and kill his new
wife Della. In a brilliant scene taken from the Live And Let Die
novel (1954), Sanchez feeds Leiter to the sharks. Bond then arranges
for Sanchez' associate Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe)'s
hideout to be destroyed and kill traitor Killifer. A quick note
here to acknowledge that the name Milton Krest came from the Fleming
short story The Hildebrand Rarity (1960). After learning that
Bond was involved with this incident, M (Robert Brown) has Bond
taken in. After an argument over Bond's disobedience about
refusing his assignment as he desires to avenge the attack on
Leiter by capturing or killing Sanchez, Bond's "Licence To Kill" is revoked, and Bond escapes from MI6's custody.
Timothy Dalton and Robert Brown delivered an absolutely magnificent
performance in that sequence, bringing on screen a rare tension
scene between the two stubborn men, Bond and his father figure
M. This scene is quite possibly Robert Brown's best scene
as M, who is sadly underrated by many fans, replacing the great
Bond later meets with Felix' contact, Pam Bouvier (Carey
Lowell) at the Barrelhead night club where they dispose of many
Sanchez baddies and escape from Dario, who is under the impression
that he managed to kill Pam as he didn't expect her to wear
a Kevlar jacket. This scene is considerably over bashed by many
Bond fans who consider that Bond wouldn't visit lowly night
clubs. These folks forget that the meeting and contact was set
up by Felix prior to his meeting with the shark. Although not
a typical "Bond scene", it would make perfect sense
for Texan born Felix to visit such an establishment for meeting
with a contact. Bond then hires Bouvier who turns up to be a pilot
to fly him to Isthmus City, Sanzhez' home base.
For all Q (Desmond Llewellyn) fans, "Licence To Kill" is pure pleasure. The
movie includes Q's most important participation to date
in the series as he will assist Bond in the field and bring a
bunch of gadgets to Isthmus City. Another interesting situation
in "Licence To Kill" is that two "good" Bond girls battle for Bond's
attention when the usual formula has a "good" and
a "bad" girl, or to have Bond not having to make a
choice as early Bond girls die early in the movie. Sanchez'
girlfriend Lupe is desperate to leave him but knows that she can't;
Pam is also enamoured with 007. A quick not here to mention that
Pam Bouvier is easily the very best "agent" type Bond
girl in the series. As years passed, times changed and having
good looking useless Bond girls wouldn't be a popular option
throughout the 80's and 90's as it was in the Roger
Moore era. Bond girls would become more independent and many would
be given "agent" or "Bond equal" roles.
Pam's character is much more interesting and plausible to
comparable roles such as agent XXX in The Spy Who Loved Me portrayed
by the laughably untalented Barbara Bach, CIA agent Holly Goodhead
in Moonraker by Lois Chiles and Chinese agent Wai Lin portrayed
by Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies were capable characters
but not as interesting as Pam, and Die Another Day's Jinx
by Halle Berry was both the very worst Bond girl character and
also the absolute worst performance as a Bond girl by the incapable
actress. Carey Lowell's performance as Pam matched the scripted
character as she was likable and realistically competent, delivering
what is easily the best Bond girl since the 60's, and clearly
in the top 5 Bond girls ever.
"Licence To Kill" also offers to the audience a situation that is familiar
to literary Bond fans, but overwhelmingly disliked by non-book-movie-only
Bond fans as James Bond pushes his luck to the maximum to get
out of trouble. Indeed, "Licence To Kill" offers a sequence reminiscent to a
scene in the Casino Royale novel (1953) where Bond is captured
by villain Le Chiffre and about to be killed only to survive as
Le Chiffre's organization SMERSH decides to send a termination
squadron to assassinate their traitor agent Le Chiffre and thus
enabling Bond to survive. The scenario delivered in "Licence To Kill" has James
Bond set up to kill Sanchez using his signature sniper rifle,
provided by Q, and about to squeeze the trigger when attacked
by Chinese agents working for Kwang (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), undercover
as a Chinese businessman visiting Sanchez to do business with
him bringing cocaine back to China. However, Sanchez' chief
of security Heller (Don Stroud) followed and attacked the Chinese
agents and finds Bond unconscious and tied down to a table. Heller
and Sanchez conclude that Bond was trying to eliminate the Chinese
agents to protect Sanchez as moments earlier, Bond had introduced
himself to Sanchez as a rogue "problem solver" looking
Acting as Sanchez' friend, Bond manages to have Sanchez
kill his associate Milton Krest, leading Sanchez to believe that
Krest was crossing him and stealing his money. Again, a situation
that is unusual to Bond movie followers, well executed, well acted,
and refreshing as it greatly differs from the typical Bond formula.
Bond eventually defeats Sanchez after a tremendous action packed
tanker chase, a first for the series.
The cast in "Licence To Kill" is terrific. Dalton is absolutely magnificent
as James Bond once again. The impressive cast of villains lead
by a very realistic performance by Robert Davi, Benicio Del Toro,
and Anthony Zerbe, the Bond girls are interesting as mentioned
above, and the supporting cast of Hedison, Brown, Llewellyn, and
Caroline Bliss (Miss Moneypenny) was solid once again.
There are very few low points in "Licence To Kill". Digging deep to find them,
the character Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton) was rather silly and
the score by Michael Kamen is easily one of the very worst of
the series. Gladys Knight's theme song was however quite
"Licence To Kill" remains a very popular movie amongst literary Bond fans even
if not being an actual adaptation of a Fleming novel simply because
of the writer's masterful scripted character for Bond and
wonderful portrayal by Timothy Dalton. Finally, the real James
Bond is on screen! Sadly, the immature MTV generation Bond movie
fans seem to dislike Dalton and "Licence To Kill", not realizing that this literary
Bond which greatly differs from the new CGI packed action-hero
Brosnan Bond is what the literary audience fell in love with,
which prompted producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli to
bring Bond on the big screen in the first place! Without the real
Bond, there wouldn't have been any Bond movies! Well these
hypocrites can keep burying their heads in the sand like ostriches
all they want, because it won't change the fact that the
literary Bond fans will be able to enjoy a pure adaptation of
Fleming's literary Bond forever.
"Licence To Kill" by NicNac
The Living Daylights (1987) had been an artistic triumph as well
as a suitably decent success at the box office.
It meant that Eon could now confidently press on with their new
Bond, satisfied that the Dalton interpretation of the role, was
nicely in line with the demands of a late 1980s audiences.
"Licence to Kill" had started life as the more palatable Licence
Revoked, but for reasons now shrouded in rumours and legend, it
was replaced. And we now had a situation where the original title,
- capturing the mood of the plot perfectly, was substituted with
a title that meant the exact opposite! The Wilson/Maibaum plot
delved a little into Ian Fleming's output, but in general this
was all new Bond, chronicling the schemes of a South American
drug Baron as he ingeniously transports his merchandise around
The main talking point of the plot is Bond's new role as an 'avenging
angel'. With his old CIA pal Felix Leiter mauled by a shark, and
his (Felix's) new bride murdered, Bond goes against all his principles
(as he clearly defined them in TMWTGG), and sets out on revenge.
Or is it new?
After all, Bond was apparently a bit of a loose cannon at the
start of DAF, and has for ever been scolded by M for not following
orders! It's just that this time, Bond takes it all a step further.
The suave, confident, globe-hopping, wise-cracking man of action,
becomes a snarling, biting cold-blooded vigilante. After all he
never got this upset when Tracy bought it. He never lost site
of his mission when Kerim Bay was bumped off. But when dear old
Felix gets a chunk bitten out of him, Bond turns into Charles
Bronson with nobs on.
Posing as a freelance 'problem eliminator', he infiltrates bad
guy Sanchez's operation, and systematically tears it down. With
CIA pilot Pam Bouvier, gadget master Q and huge amounts of good
fortune on his side, he destroys the drugs Empire in a couple
of days. (It raises a little smile when we consider that another
on going operation had spent months trying to get to grips with
Sanchez's operation, and hadn't got within a million miles of
where Bond was).
The cast features Robert Davi in scene stealing mode as Sanchez,
Carey Lowell as Pam, a young Benicio Del Toro as one of Sanchez's
heavies and old hand Anthony Zerbe as Sanchez's slimy associate
Milton Krest. And a wonderful cast this is to despite vacant-headed
lovely, Talisa Soto doing her best to revive the heady days of
70s bimbo Bond girls.
I had a problem with some of the editing. Bond appears to kick
M in the stomach when he loses his "Licence To Kill" (after 3 viewing
I realised he didn't!). Later when Bond is in Krest's warehouse,
we see Leiter's button hole on the floor, but its difficult to
be sure if Bond also sees it (he does, but it isn't absolutely
I also struggled to stomach the idea of Bond being quite this
nasty. In his single minded quest for revenge, he manages to get
some Chinese agents killed, takes grim satisfaction over the gory
deaths of Sanchez's associates, and now sprinkles his verbal output
with more than a few expletives! This isn't the Bond we have come
to know. This is an unsettling Bond, lost in some kind of personal
madness, unable to think straight, unable to be rational. It certainly
isn't wrong to give us this Bond. After all, Bond in the novels
is 'real' with real hang-ups and real problems. It's just that
the cinematic Bond has developed down a different route, and maybe,just
maybe, "Licence To Kill" was one step too far.
Dalton himself does the tortured Bond pretty well, spitting his
words out, occasionally relaxing (when he frolics with Pam in
the boat), then becoming the angry, vengeful Bond the next minute.
Once again Dalton looks good in casual dress, and totally uncomfortable
in a tuxedo (he is the least convincing Bond actor in formal wear).
My main problem is Dalton's theatrical acting style. He acts
with his eyes and his mouth, pouting, snarling, swiveling his
eyes, gritting his teeth. In contract Robert Davi with his cinematic
style of minimal facial movement, leaves him for dead in their
first scene together, in Sanchez's office. As ever with Dalton,
when he's good, he's very good........
And "Licence To Kill" doesn't have enough decent dialogue to be quotable, so
what are we left with? Action: Generally very good. The opener
is disappointing after the heady heights of "The Living Daylights". There is a bar
room brawl which is pretty good, and Dalton never falls short
of being exceptional in these scenes. However, the tanker pursuit
that ends the film is arguably one of the best action scenes in
the entire series. The huge oil tankers, dance and crash down
a steep, winding Mexican road, with Bond throwing all caution
to the wind. He turns into Indiana Jones, as he recklessly makes
it up as he goes along, destroying one after another of the tankers.
Director John Glen can be justifiably proud of this scene- a truly
I am not particularly a fan of "Licence To Kill", but I certainly don't hate
it. It isn't dull like certain Bonds, and it isn't poorly made,
or lazily put together. The problem with "Licence To Kill" is that it dares
to be different, and by stepping outside the usual routine, we
lose site, however briefly, of Bond's cinematic values, history
and legacy. However, we do need films like this, because it shows
that Cubby was never taking his eye off the ball.
So I may not be a fan, but it doesn't matter, because I appreciate
what it tried to do. Whether it will become a forgotten Bond film
we shall see. If it does, it may have more to do with the fact
that Dalton will be seen, rightly or wrongly (but certainly unfairly),
as a failed Bond, with only the spirit of George Lazenby to keep
"Licence To Kill" by timdalton007
After the success of The Living Daylights, the Eon creative team
was back at the drawing board. With the apparent acceptance of
a more serious Fleming-like 007 and with Bond actor Timothy Dalton
pressing for a more gritty film, the EON team made a controversial
move: they took 007 out of Her Majesty's Secret Service,
took away his 00 number, and put him outside his normal operating
parameters. In doing so, they create one of the best James Bond
First off, we get the best performance to date by a Bond actor.
Timothy Dalton had proved in The Living Daylights that he had
the acting chops to play 007. Here, he surpasses not only himself,
but also every other actor who has played Bond. If Dalton was
easily visualized as Bond, he IS Bond in this film. He is exactly
as Fleming described Bond. He is cold-blooded, almost humor-less,
and a human being. He isn't the tuxedoed super hero of the
Roger Moore films. Just look at the scene where Bond finds Della
dead. Only Timothy Dalton could have given the proper emotion
in the frantic cry of "Della!" and his reaction to
looking over her body is classic Bond. Bond's reactions
to finding Killifer in the warehouse, his resigning from MI6,
and other scenes in the film prove that he has studied the Bond
character enough to get inside the characters' head and
become him. It's true that bond appears out of his usual
attire in the film and that Dalton looks uncomfortable in them,
but Bond doesn't dress in that attire and Dalton is simply
acting in the role. Dalton looks incredibly well in the action
scenes and, like The Living Daylights, it is hard to tell when
its him and when its a stuntman, which is a good thing coming
out of the Roger Moore films. Dalton looks well in the scenes
with the Bond girls and his scenes with Sanchez are among the
best Bond-Villain scenes since "From Russia With Love" and the early
The weak point in the films main characters is the girl Pam Bouvier.
Though she is a very strong character and Carey Lowell acts well
in the part, the character seems out of place in a Bond film.
Perhaps it is for the better that the character is tough and resourceful,
which isn't what I am complaining about. My problem with
the character is that she seems to be more of the usual 80's
tough woman action hero, ala Aliens and the like. Not that the
character is a bad thing, but does that type of character belong
in a James Bond adventure? The character, in my mind at least,
is a bit too strong for a Bond film. Otherwise, Pam Bouvier is
a good Bond girl. Even though she breaks one of the oldest rules
of Bond girls with her short hair, looks aren't everything
to a Bond girl. She can take care of herself and she saves Bond
on more then a few occasions. She is a modern and tough woman;
though as I said maybe a little too tough for a Bond film. Overall,
Pam is a good character and Carey Lowell does a good job playing
The villain, Franz Sanchez, is among the best villains of the
series. He is also the more realistic of the series' villain,
a drug lord from South America and in many ways a mirror, albeit
evil, image of 007. Much like Scaramanga in "The Man With The Golden
Gun", the relationship between the villain and Bond is complicated
and there are some fireworks in their scenes. First there is the
silent menace and quiet tension in the scene in Sanchez's
office, and later a friendship between the two men that the audience
knows is fake. Sanchez has a lot of menace to him that had been
missing from many Bond villains before him. Look at the scene
where Lieter is fed to the shark, Sanchez looks menacing enough
to kill Lieter, but he is evil enough just to maim him and leave
him for dead. Sanchez's loyalty issue lead to the self-destructive
paranoia that leads him to do Bond's bidding by killing
off most of his own inner-circle. By doing that, Sanchez sets
himself up for the trap that leads to the destruction of not only
his empire, but also the end of his life. It's a great twist
of irony in the end that Sanchez is killed by the very man who
caught him in the teaser and whom he trusted. Robert Davi does
incredibly well in the part and is very believable and at times
one has to wonder whether or not he really is the character he
As for the supporting cast, top notch to say the least. Talisa
Soto does well in the part of Lupe, though it is hard to feel
for her character due to her limited time on screen. But despite
the limited time on screen, Soto shines in every one of her scenes
and she just isn't another Bond girl. The viewer actually
feels for her. David Hedison makes a fantastic return as Felix
Lieter. Despite being much older than the last time we saw him,
Felix is still in good shape and doesn't come across as
old when firing a M-16 rifle at the bad guys in the teaser. When
the shark maims him, we're shocked at it and even more shocked
when bond finds his bloody and barely alive body at his house.
Mostly the goons of Sanchez make up the rest of the supporting
cast, led by a young and very impressive Benicio Del Toro, whose
talents have improved ten fold since this film came out over fifteen
years ago. The characters of Truman-Lodge, Heller, and Krest are
great characters, though they are a bit underused in the film.
At least Krest gets a good death sequence, in one of the most
original deaths of the series. The character of Joe Butcher is
a fun character and well played by Wayne Newton, though a little
out of place in this Bond film. The role of Q is increased big
time for Desmond Llewelyn as he gets the largest Q part in the
series and shines in the process. Robert Brown returns as M for
the film time and finally manages to step out of Bernard Lee's
shadow for the scene at the Hemingway house in Key West. Caroline
Bliss returns also for the second and final time as Moneypenny
and, as in "The Living Daylights", doesn't spend enough time
on screen to make an impression.
The film's action sequences are among the best in the series.
The film's opening teaser sequence while not as good as
the one in "The Living Daylights", is inspired and finds Bond, for
the first time, not on a mission for MI6. The underwater/water
ski/airplane sequence that takes later in the film is another
inspired action sequence that showcases some of the best stunt
work in the history of the series. The final action sequence in
the film, the truck chase, is great. The stunts are unbelievably
original and seeing an eighteen-wheeler truck doing a side wheelie
is among the most amazing stunts seen on film. The various fights
in the film are also good, especially the bar fight and the fight
on the back of the runaway truck between Bond and Sanchez. The
film has less action then "The Living Daylights", but manages to
surpass those action sequences and the plot never suffers.
The film's plot is among the most original in the series.
It uses many elements from the Fleming stories, particularly Lieter's
maiming by a shark in the "Live And Let Die" novel, and the Krest
character from "The Hildebrand Rarity". The sub-plots of the Japanese
drug lords and the Stinger missiles help to complicate the film.
In many respects, the film's plot may well be what Fleming
himself might have been writing about had he been writing 007
adventures in the late 1980's.
If there is a bad thing about this film, it's the score
and songs. When John Barry came down with oesophagus cancer, EON
hired the late Michael Kamen to do the score. Unfortunately, Kamen
produced one of the worst Bond film scores. Like Monty Norman
in "Dr. No", he makes way too much use of The James Bond Theme in
the score. In many ways, the score doesn't have a central
theme to it and instead uses orchestral hit and fast notes, much
in the way that David Arnold does the current 007 scores. The
film's songs are, for the most part, a letdown. The main
title song, performed by Gladys Knight is instantly forgettable,
as are the "Wedding Party" and "Dirty Love" songs. The only good song
to come out of the film is "If You Asked Me To" and is a pretty
good song, though it does kind of feel out of place in a Bond
Despite a terrible score, "Licence To Kill" is a great Bond film.
With the best Bond performance of the series to date, a great
villain, a good supporting cast (though some of them are out of
place), good action sequences, and a good plot, "Licence To Kill"
is a classic 007 film that ranks in the top five best Bond films.
"Licence To Kill" by Overkill
If ever a Bond film showed up the differences between a hardcore
fan's impression of what makes a Bond movie, and the casual
fan, "Licence To Kill" is it. A gritty, hard-bitten thriller, with Bond operating
against the wishes of his superiors, avenging the attempted murder
of his friend Felix Leiter, and the actual murder of Felix's
new bride. "Licence To Kill" treads a dangerous line between action fantasy,
action reality and contemporary drama. Much has been made of the
public's indifference to Dalton as Bond, with "Licence To Kill" often
cited as evidence for the case against him. In fairness it's
easily Dalton's best performance (of his two) and "Licence To Kill" stands
as one of the best of the series.
The decision to take the harder-edged root was a brave one. "The
Living Daylights" had quickly established Dalton in the public
eye, and had hinted at the direction he (and the producers) were
keen to head. But the public weren't prepared for how far
down that road they were ready to go. Bond swears! Bond kills
in cold blood! Bond throws a man into a cocaine grinder! Another
is set alight covered in petrol! OH MY GOD!
What critics of this kind of thing failed to mention was that
Bond has ALWAYS done this kind of thing, but what set "Licence To Kill" apart
was the tone. There's very little humour in "Licence To Kill", and if
it hadn't been for Q's greatest ever appearance, there
may have been none at all. Dalton is given a few one liners that
he chucks away in disgust, but gets to deliver a fantastic one:
"Problem solver?", "No. More of a problem eliminator".
What this line demonstrates, and what many critics picked up on,
was this decision to send Bond into "Rambo" territory.
This isn't strictly fair. Bond has always played hard and
fast with the prevailing mood of Hollywood. In 1989 Joel Silver,
Mario Kassar and Simpson/Bruckheimer was the prevailing mood:
"Die Hard", "Lethal Weapon", "Commando" and the Rambo series were ruling
the box office roost, having nicked all their best ideas from
Bond and fashioned them into glossy, violent entertainment. Bond
had to at least try and claim back his crown.
In that respect "Licence To Kill" ultimately fails. It doesn't have Die
Hard's tension, Lethal Weapon's humour or chemistry,
or the big daft stupid fun of Rambo or Commando. What it does
have, however, is a good plot, fine acting and John Glen's
best direction since he took on the mantle of helmer four films
The cast is good, without being spectacular. David Hedison's
return as Felix is
welcome, providing some rare continuity in the series, but he
is clearly too old to be marrying Della, and old enough to be
Bond's dad rather than his best (only?) mate. Carey Lowell
is impressive as Pam Bouvier, Felix's CIA contact. She's
built up as yet another Bond equal, but interestingly she actually
proves her worth, saving Bond's life on several occasions.
The chemistry between her and Dalton is OK, but this could be
more a result of Bond's coldness in light of his ‘mission'.
Less impressive in the Bond Girl stakes is Taliso Soto. She is
a typical gangster's mole character and it's a badly
written role, so she could be forgiven for not giving her all,
but Ms Soto seems to be lacking somewhat in the acting department.
Shame, as she's very pretty. Her gangster lover, and Bond's
nemesis this time, is Sanchez, a vicious drug dealer wonderfully
played by character actor Robert Davi. Davi often plays villains,
but here re creates one of the more memorable Bond villains of
recent times. A truly odious character, his chemistry with Dalton
is fantastic. Good thing too, since the whole film rests on their
relationship, and Bond's ability to convince him he is loyal,
while simultaneously destroying his empire from within.
Smaller roles are filled by Anthony Zerbe (another perennial
bad guy), Wayne Newton (!) and a small role for a young actor
by the name of Benicio Del Toro, as Sanchez's killer of
choice, Dario (and, is it me, or is there a suggestion that the
two of them are, shall we say, more than friends?). While he doesn't
convince of the great things that were to follow, Del Toro does
well with the minimal screen time he has.
In the action stakes "Licence To Kill" certainly doesn't skimp, but it's
not up to the usual big budget standard. In its defence it does
have a fabulous tanker truck chase climax. A wonderful sequence
that ranks right up there with the best Bond moments, it shows
you Bond as hero and victim. Battered and bloodied come the end,
it's very exciting and refreshing.
"Licence To Kill", and Dalton for that matter, may never be excepted by the
public at large. MGM and EON's legal wrangling's kept Bond
off the screen for six years, during which Dalton decided to move
on. It was probably wise. He would have been 50 by the time of
Goldeneye. But he left a legacy of two great thrillers that showed
that EON could make Fleming-esque thrillers if they wanted to,
whilst still delivering high action for the popcorn punters.
"Licence To Kill" by sisillius
In "The Living Daylights", the choice of Timothy Dalton, with a face as sharp as a razor and a no-nonsense attitude, indicated that the Bond series was, at last, returning to hard action/adventure. In the follow-up movie, "Licence To Kill" , also starring Dalton, James Bond is no longer the happy-go-lucky ageing fop of the Moore era - he is now young, driven and angry - and the result is a surprisingly serious action thriller.
A simple story of revenge, the basic plot offers nothing new, but this sort of thing is relatively new for Bond. EON dabbled with the idea of Bond out to avenge the death of his wife in "Diamonds Are Forever", but quickly slipped back into the old formula. However, in the late eighties with movies like Lethal Weapon around, the producers obviously felt that it was time to "dirty" Bond up a little. The result is a brave attempt to marry ingredients of the old Bond formula with harder, grittier, more violent components and the result is a little rough in places but comes over as a movie that takes itself more seriously than previous outings and presents us with Bond's darker side. This darkness varies from the savagely furious Bond that discovers his maimed best friend and dead wife - to the cold and definitely sinister man that breaks into Lupe's stateroom and holds a knife to her throat. From this it becomes obvious that the Bond in "Licence To Kill" is one we've never seen before. Far from the softly humoured Roger Moore Bond, we now have a man you just would not want to pick a fight with.
Despite its simple premise, there is a lot of story in this movie and even the pre-credit action sequence advances the main story. It is rare that it ever does, and this time it really is an integral part of the plot. As the movie unfolds, however, quite a few glaring plot-holes emerge, such as the fact that Sanchez saw Bond helping Leiter in the pre-titles sequence, so why did he not recognise him later? It's niggles like this that mar what is otherwise a well plotted and entertaining movie.
We soon meet the movie's baddie, drug-baron Franz Sanchez (played by Robert Davi, whose pockmarked face adds a nice touch of realism) who is easily the most three-dimensional villain in the series. A ruthless, but softly spoken man, Sanchez combines an urbane manner with a definite heart of calculating steel. Carey Lowell delivers one of the series better leading ladies in Pam Bouvier - a no-nonsense CIA operative who actually convinces Bond that he's out of his depth. She's feisty, but still loses none of her femininity, and this is a good foil for Lupe, who, as Sanchez's girlfriend, is a lot more vulnerable. David Hedison's Felix Leiter is a very good ally, and the character of Leiter and his friendship with Bond comes over a lot better than in any previous movies.
The travelogue element has been toned down in this movie and the action takes place on the Florida Keys and Panama (thinly disguised as the fictitious Isthmus). I found this to be to my taste because very often the vast array of exotic locations has intruded in on the past Bond movies almost to the point of spoiling them, and this tighter crucible certainly contributes to a better-paced drama. There is a slight seasoning of humour here and there, but only enough to relieve a little tension now and again. The inclusion of Q and his famous gadgets served to appease die-hards from the Moore era, although I would have preferred to see Bond use his own resources to make an assassination attempt on Sanchez, rather than have all the tools he needed in one bag, conveniently supplied by Q.
Like with previous Bonds, this movie features the "Fallacy of the Talking Killer" several times in which the villain has Bond clearly in his power, and then, instead of killing him instantly, makes the mistake of talking just long enough for Bond plan an escape. The fallacy saves Bond's life two or three times in "Licence To Kill" - especially once when all that Sanchez has to do is decapitate him with a machete. This scene, however, is the climax of a superb extended chase sequence that is easily the most gripping in the canon. This one involves some truly amazing stunt work, as three giant gasoline trucks speed down a twisting mountain road, while a helicopter and a light aircraft also join in the chase. The stunts all look convincing, and the effect of the closing sequence is exhilarating. We have a beaten and bloody Bond facing a gasoline-saturated Sanchez who makes the fatal mistake of needing to know why Bond has been persecuting him. Seeing Sanchez going up in flames due to a "genuine Felix Leiter" is easily one of the best villain deaths in the series in that it dishes out poetic justice in spades.
The credit sequence is once again stunning in spite of the instantly forgettable song by Gladys Knight. Michael Kamen's score is not up to the usual John Barry contribution, but it gets the job done. John Glen's direction shows nothing new, but like Kamen's music, it is not intrusive and ambles home quite nicely.
The dénouement of the movie is it's weakest point. At the end of a tightly paced thriller, we get a very contrived happy ending tacked on complete with winking fish, just to say it's all make-believe really as we toddle up the wooden hill to bed. This wasn't as glaringly opposed as the ending of For Your Eyes Only, but it just didn't work at all in the context of this movie. We have a cheerful Leiter bouncing back after having been mutilated by sharks and being told that his new bride has been raped and killed by Sanchez's thugs. Then we learn that M has forgiven Bond for no apparent reason, despite Bond's renegade activities screwing up a long-planned narcotics bust. Added to this, Bond finally gets the girl and they both presumably live happily ever after. As such, this is just not the sort of ending this film was crying out for. A shame, really because, on balance, "Licence To Kill" is a pretty good movie.
"Licence To Kill" by Sir Henry Lee Cha-Ching
"Then you have my resignation, sir...We're not a country club, 007! Effective immediately, your licence to kill is revoked..."
With these words, the James Bond played by the brilliant Welsh Shakespearean actor Timothy Dalton is taken into a strange and unfamiliar world where even MI6 is the enemy.
Having established himself as a no-nonsense type of Bond that recalled the glory days of the first 5 Connery movies and leaned on Ian Fleming's notion of Bond, Dalton's followup to his debut The Living Daylights features a far less complex but still compelling plot of revenge that was ignorantly and foolishly ignored in the aftermath of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". As a result, Bond fans are treated to Bond's dark side full blast...and what a dark side it is!
The pre-title sequence starts off quite innocently, with a nervous Felix Leiter on his way to his wedding with a relaxed and vacationing best man Bond and Leiter's pal Sharkey along for the ride. What follows is a thrill ride with a tux clad Bond catching a bullet in his top hat and deciding that he's not the observer type Felix envisions, directing the capture of the lead villain, and parachuting with Felix thousands of feet down to Leiter's waiting bride-to-be in what was a unique and satisfying beginning.
After the maiming of Felix and the death of his bride Della Churchill at the hands of the now free Franz Sanchez, meant more as a warning to the DEA rather than MI6, Bond becomes a rogue agent when neither organization is willing to take immediate or any action. They are right to do this, of course, but Bond doesn't see it that way. What follows is one of the finest portrayals of the character in the entire series, as Dalton becomes a killing machine bent on destroying Sanchez and anyone in his organization who might hinder him in his efforts. Along the way he still finds time to let us know he is the Bond we know, surrounded by exotic Caribbean and Mexican locales, a fine hotel with a casino, a bevy of beauties, and later some gadgets courtesy of a "rogue" Q.
The collection of villains here are the strongest to date in the series, all unique from the other and intertwined in a logical manner. Robert Davi plays Sanchez to the hilt, hiding beneath the assumed veneer of a classy type of "businessman" to mask his real identity, a ruthless and evil man who killed his way to the top of his profession. Security chief Heller is smug and sure of his abilities due to his intelligence background, the arrogant financial genius Truman Lodge is believable, veteran Anthony Zerbe scores well as Sanchez' greedy, drug smuggling American connection Milton Krest, and future Oscar winner Benicio DelToro is completely and believably over the top as Sanchez' homicidally sick and irredeemably evil enforcer, Dario. Not only are the performances strong, but the ways each are dispatched in turn are thoroughly entertaining.
Two of the 3 ladies featured in "Licence To Kill" add to the overall feel. Carey Lowell brings leading lady Pam Bouvier to life quite well, showing us and Bond that she is a competent CIA operative who has the training and practical know-how to back Bond as well as any MI6 assistant, in any situation. Her constant proving of this to a skeptical Bond provides some good moments and even a little humor, and he learns that he needs her to survive. Along the way, the producers decide that she needed a butch haircut to accent her tough image, which detracted from the look you'd expect from a Bond girl. Talisa Soto instead provides the bombshell sex appeal as Lupe Lamora, a woman who likes Sanchez' money a lot more than him but likes the lifestyle she leads as well. Eventually she falls for Bond and that goes out the window as she decides to help him. She doesn't hurt the movie and is believable enough to work with the lines she gets. The part of Della Churchill however, is wasted. I would expect a bride to be a little giddy with happiness on her wedding day, but she all does is practically hump Bond's leg like a horny dog and adds nothing to the storyline until her death. Since it became a comedic part, ex-Three's Company actress Priscilla Barnes was fine for it.
I thought the expanded role of Q was a nice departure from his usual businesslike role. His character noticeably warmed to Bond during the Dalton era, and their comedic chemistry was excellent. Robert Brown does a good job as M, and Moneypenny's role is kept to a comfortable minimum by the overmatched Caroline Bliss.
The music provided by Michael Kamen of the "Die Hard" series is nothing special save a few good tracks such as "Pam", "Licence Revoked", and "James And Felix On Their Way To Church". He doesn't capture the feel of Bond like Barry or Arnold do, but his use of Spanish style guitar music fits the locales nicely.
From the time Bond arrives at Sanchez' processing plant, to the incredible finish where he survives a nasty fall and is in horrible shape, he finds the presence of mind to prey on the villain's curiosity before using a simple but very special everyday item to send him "to a fiery hell" courtesy of Felix and the late Della. One of the most exciting, thrilling, and satisfying endings in the series.
The movie ends on a happy note that to me was a welcome relief from all the violence and heartbreak that preceded it. Bond sees through Lupe's shallowness and beauty and rightly rewards Pam for sticking by him and helping him to survive. The general public gets what they expect to end an unexpected Bond story. Bond gets the girl in the end, M realizes Bond did the world a favor and with British interests unaffected yet directly satisfied, he gets his job back and everyone goes home happy.
"Licence To Kill" by 007calbrit
Following on from "The Living Daylights" Dalton returns as suave secret agent James Bond in his latest adventure.
One which takes a step in a different direction.
Licence to Kill, the sixteenth movie of the franchise, is definitely one of the darkest. Just after the wedding of his friend, Felix Leiter, Bond finds that enemy of the CIA and drug lord Franz Sanchez has escaped after being captured a day before by the two. Bond then heads back to Leiter's home where he finds his friend and wife tortured horribly, the latter dead. Against wishes of his boss, M and the American government, Bond sets off on a revenge spree to find Sanchez and avenge his long time ally.
Now looking back on it, "Licence To Kill" is almost unlike any other Bond film we've ever seen. Borrowing elements from the Fleming novel, Live and Let Die and short story The Hildebrand Rarity, two of the darkest literacy installments, it is no wonder why the film adaptation reflects this.
But what helps to make "Kill" work is Dalton. The Welsh born actor definitely puts his own mark on the character, daring to be different to the lighter Moore or slick Connery. No, Dalton makes the more human side to Bond come on screen, in a way his predecessors would have failed to do. Of course it helps that the film has one of the best range of villains in the series. Davi is horribly chilling as the Sanchez character, providing us with one of the best performances of the series, and Del Toro is so sadistic as the knife wielding henchman, Dario. In addition, Soto and Lowell show us two of the most interesting Bond Girls, the former doing well to bring the tortured, vulnerable character alive.
Cinematography is also another plus in "Kill" Exotic locations include the fictional Isthmus city, and certain sequences also excel. A tanker chase at the climax of the film just one of the many examples of this, and creates the feeling of a long final face off down to the dramatic fate of Sanchez. These elements also help to propel the story further along down to the few twists we get along the way.
However, despite all of this, there are a few flaws with "Kill". One of which being the way it thins out towards the end, jump started by the climax. Another niggle is the way it seems to attempt to inject too much else into its dark mood. On one side, we get the revenge plot and the fantastic performances with brutal elements, but once in a while, one seems a little taken back by the odd confrontation by the two leading ladies towards the end, or maybe the oddly lighter presence of Q. Not to mention a simply too cheery ending, failing to compare to the first events of the film (Leiter seems too happy for a man who just lost his wife.)
But there are some plus sides to injecting said qualities into "Kill". On one hand it seems out of place, yes. But on the other if left out, then it becomes simply too dark for a Bond fan to handle. After seeing such scenes as a henchman having their head blown clean off or another being impaled, they are a breath of fresh air, maybe even giving reassurance.
Overall, a gritty dark flick. Maybe too dark for some, and definitely this has affected this film. But for others, this is where it excels the most. But it's a new twist on a popular character, and with the right leading man, what's to complain about?
"Licence To Kill" by thegiantcookie
"Give her his Heart."
Uttered by main villain Franz Sanchez at the very beginning of the film, it perfectly sums up the film. "License to Kill" gives the audience Bond's heart, at its rawest, angry at the attempted murder of a very close friend of him.
Unfortunately, his heart is not enough; we need his head along with that. Whilst satisfying the dedicated bond fans, ultimately it couldn't satisfy the average movie goer in the same way as "The Living Daylights" did.
"License to Kill" is a very good bond film. I would rank it highly amongst the other bond films. I am a Fleming adorer. I prefer bond to be what Flemming wrote, not what Broccoli or Saltzman changed him in to. Dalton came close to living up to that in "The Living Dalights". He is Bond, completely ruthless, violent, but charming, and a womaniser. That is how I like my Bond served, as it were, and it ultimately helps "Licence To Kill" to stick out from the crowd.
The film is basically an adult bond film. It's a more mature bond, in a more mature setting with a script and plot to reflect this. Drug Barons have been done before in previous bond films, although they have been glossed over. "Licence To Kill" tackles this head on, and Sanchez is brutal and menacing. Robert Davi portrays him perfectly, the script for Sanchez is well developed, and I couldn't imagine the part played by any other actor. It's a pity he had to die; he would have made a great reoccurring villain.
Whilst I love "Licence To Kill", the portrayal of bond and the villain, Sanchez, I do have some issues with the film. Benicio Del Toro, as henchman Dario, is criminally ignored in the film. He really doesn't have enough screen time. Along with Davi, Toro is a brilliant henchman and I would have loved the relationship to be more explored within the film.
The film, despite being more serious, does veer into silly territory occasionally, such as gags with kitchen knives and swordfish. Dalton was never brilliant at the gags, this was apparent in "The Living Daylights", so why they forced him to do it in this one is beyond me. I'd hazard a guess at Audience expectation, which is what ultimately meant that the film failed.
Audiences in the 1980's were still expecting Moore bond, and whilst "The Living Daylights" veered away from that, it still featured some of that wit. "Licence To Kill" goes very far away from that, and audiences just didn't want it, leading to its failure, along with other things. Interestingly, if the film had been released now, audiences would have been more used to more similar realistic films, and it would have been more successful. "Licence To Kill's" downfall was that it was too ahead of its time. Is it so far away from the recent Craig films? No.
I adore "License to Kill". It is one of my favourite, most re-watchable bond films and I would rank it highly. The bond is great, the villain and henchman menacing, the girls beautiful, the locations exotic and the script exciting.
"Licence To Kill" by Fae
There are some people that you learn that it is best just not to mess with them. You take or harm something the means something to someone like this and it will not end well for you. Lesson here - do not push their trigger.
James Bond is one such someone as evident in the 1989 "Licence To Kill" starring Timothy Dalton as Ian Fleming's world famous secret agent in his second and last outing as Bond.
After the mutilation of Felix Leiter, Bond's long time friend and ally from the CIA, and Leiter's newly wedded wife is murdered, Bond goes on a rogue mission, defying his superiors in order to seek retribution for his friend. Going up against the powerful drug lord, Sanchez, Bond finds himself infiltrating his enemy's organisation but as the film progresses his vengeance isn't the only thing that matters as other motives are revealed.
This is a Bond film that dares to be different - stepping away from the glamour and outrageousness of the previous Moore era "Licence To Kill" is presented as gritty, dark and realistic. The idea of a ruthless drug baron's business being uncovered by a driven man is set firmly in the grounds of reality that it even had me wondering if the film's main antagonist Franz Sanchez, portrayed by the talented Robert Davi, actually existed.
As stated above there is a sense of realism to "Licence To Kill" . This is largely brought out by the bad guys. The henchmen are no longer faceless men in jumpsuits but real people who make you wonder about who they are, what motivates them. Like what is Dario's (Benicio Del Toro) relationship between Sanchez and him? The body language there suggests a more ‘brotherly' relationship then that of Sanchez and his other employees - why is that? Then we have Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) as Sanchez's American drug-smuggling buddy who transports the goods, motivated by money and ever so fearful of Sanchez. And lastly we have Sanchez himself. Robert Davi demands the screen as Sanchez who is cunning, a businessman who plays it smart and is dangerous, willing to do anything to achieve his goals.
Now, like any Bond film this one wouldn't be a Bond film without the girls: Pam Bouvier, Lupe Lamora and Della Churchill. Carey Lowell plays Pam Bouvier, a feisty CIA operative trying to retrieve some stolen weapons as well as helping Bond. One of my problems with this character however is the way she shows her infatuation of Bond - it doesn't feel right for the professional image she puts forth to begin with - though maybe that's all it is, an image, either way it irritates me all the same. Now beyond the ‘action girl' "Licence To Kill" also features Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) as the Damsel in Distress wishing for a way out of Sanchez's clutches - this is shown in the chilling PTS where Sanchez finds her with another man, and ruthlessly kills this man and whips Lupe - she is a woman beaten and searching for a way out. Bond is her way and throughout she tries to attach herself to him as he is her knight. The only problem with Lupe is Soto's limited acting range that makes everything feel slightly fake. And last but not least we have Della Churchill (Priscilla Barnes) as Felix Leiter's blushing bride and the first ‘Leiter girl' (to my knowledge). A minor role but an important catalyst for the film, Barnes delivers what her role requires, nothing more or less - even if at moments it appeared like she wanted to be a Bond girl rather than a Leiter one.
Licence to Kill despite having a more serious tone still has humour. These light hearted moment act like a breather. Arguably the man who provides this is Desmond Llewellyn as Q. He's the light hearted part, the guy that makes you smile as he comes to 007's aid. For me it's endearing and rather cute - he's like the grandpa that comes and helps you with your Maths homework - for lack of a better description as well as showing a different side to Q, this allows a few heart warming laughs. The only issue I do have is that it would have been nice to see Bond left to his own devices instead of being spoon fed gadgets.
The only real main issue in this film, besides a few wooden deliveries of lines from Dalton, is the ending. It's lazy and it pretty much says - lets disregard what's happened: let's start with making Leiter happy and ready to go fishing after being eaten by sharks and having his bride raped and killed - oh and add in a winking fish while we're at it - why not. Oh and of course Bond gets the girl after she goes off in tears upon seeing girl number two making her moves on Bond, and Bond being the gentleman that he is charges off. I would have personally preferred a nice quiet scene between Leiter and Bond in the hospital. Oh and an explanation on how Bond (and Q to an extent) got back in M's good graces after going off on a rogue mission.
However despite the unsatisfying ending the rest of the film makes up for it; this is an excellent Bond film, one that I enjoy immensely and will definitely be sticking it into my DVD player again and again.
And just one more time…
"Licence To Kill" by Mr. Brown
Timothy Dalton's second James Bond film outing certainly doesn't match his debut.
The film takes bits and pieces from various Ian Fleming and patches them together, to create an action-packed 80's thrill-ride. You can certainly find bits of Fleming's "Live And Let Die" and "The Hildrebrand Rarity", most of all.
The characters in this film are more or less "hit or miss", as the saying goes. I would have to say that Sanchez and James Bond are the two most interesting characters of this film, alongside Desmond Llewelyn's more involved role. Robert Davi's Franz Sanchez is a very nasty Bond villain. Davi captures the intimidating and brutal characteristics of a ruthless drug dealer. Through out the film, he proves to be a worthy nemesis for James Bond. As for Timothy Dalton's performance as James Bond, he shines once again. It's a shame though that his second film couldn't have improved upon his first film, and it's a shame that this was his final James Bond outing. Once again, Dalton portrays a Fleming-esque James Bond; probably more so than any actor of the series. The rest of the characters were rather bland, or flat. Carey Lowell's Pam Bouvier was an average Bond girl. Talisa Soto's performance as Lupe was not anything superb, either. Anthony Zerbe's Milton Krest seemed like an uninspired character, too. It was nice to see David Hedison reprise his role as CIA agent Felix Leiter; however, some of the scenes featuring Hedison were laughable (specifically, the scene where Hedison is running alongside the two DEA agents).
Michael Kamen's score for this film usually goes unappreciated, but I have to admit that I enjoy it. Supposedly, Eric Clapton added a few guitar pieces to the score, which makes it even more interesting. Some of Kamen's score drags on, but his rendition of the James Bond theme is fantastic, and quite memorable. Gladys Knight provides some great vocals for the main theme, too, but the lyrics are of poor quality.
The locations are rather bland, also. The most interest location seems to be Key West, which is only featured in the film for a short amount of time. The fictional Isthmus City and the deserts of Mexico are nothing memorable, but do provide as quality stages for some of the film's major action and suspense sequences. As for the style of the film, it stands out as "just another 80's film". By this, I mean the film has a dingy quality, and seems grainy at times. There are no stand-out camera angles or innovative shots. John Glen filmed this pretty straight-forward.
Overall, this film seems like the "Die Hard" of the James Bond series. It's mainly an action-driven story, featuring low-key performances. It's a shame that Timothy Dalton had to finish off his short James Bond career with this film. I wish they would have done a film more like "The Living Daylights", instead. The action is admirable, at least, and I do enjoy the score quite a bit. The two lead performances are fantastic, too.
With this being my first James Bond film, I have to hold it in some high regard. It was enough to get me interested in the series. Had it not been as interesting as I thought, then perhaps I wouldn't even be posting this right now.
"Licence To Kill" by Major D.Smythe
The 1980's was a decade of great change for Bond, after the excesses of the 1970's Moore films, the filmmakers now set out to take the series in a new direction, while the 1980's Moore films did try to make Bond serious, they were always held back by the fact that Moore continued to play the character lighthearted. All that changed though, in 1987 when Timothy Dalton ascended to the role which as far back as 1968, he was due to play, with "The Living Daylights".
2 years later, Dalton came to make his second, and ultimately last, Bond film, with "Licence To Kill" . Lice To Kill is an darker, more serious (than it's immediate predecessor) film of revenge. On their way to his wedding in the Florida keyes Felix (played for a 2nd time by David Hedison) and Bond, discover that a known drugs baron, Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi, who puts in a skin crawlingly evil performance, and who proved a perfect choice for the main villain) is in the area. During an aerial sequence, Sanchez is captured, but later escapes, to take his revenge by maiming Felix (he's fed to sharks) and shooting (and it's implied raping too) Felix's wife Della. That's the revenge which sets up Bond striking out on his own, with one goal, to destroy Sanchez and his drugs operation. But that is not done in the usual fashion, this time Bond chips away at Sanchez's setup by gradually sowing the seeds of doubt in Sanchez's own men. In short, Bond brings Sanchez down from within. Bond is not alone though, as he is helped by C.I.A pilot, Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), and MI6's wizard of gadgetry, Q (once more, Desmond Llewelyn), who gets to do more in this film, then he did in the past (13 of 15) films. And there's also Benicio del Toro (an early role for him), Don Stroud, Anthony Zerbe and Anthony Stark providing various degrees of opposition as the villains.
Unfortunately, the 1980's also gave birth to other action/thriller film series, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop etc. And Box Office wise, Bond just couldn't keep up, with "Licence To Kill" having the lowest worldwide take. But it must be mentioned that only in north America did "Licence To Kill" make it's money, as on his home turf in the UK, Bond still had it, with audience. Yes, at the time Dalton had his critics, but also his champions. But in recent years, there has been a slow albeit steady rise in the latter.
Unfortunately though, not everything gels, the music, of which the Bond theme has rarely been better ("From Russia With Love", "You Only Live Twice" and "The Living Daylights" spring to mind), it's the soundtrack. For me, it doesn't quite sit right with the tone of the film.
"Licence To Kill" by Louis Armstrong
"Licence to Kill" is not as in line with the Bond movie formula as Dalton's first was, and overall, is not as satisfying a film. However, what it does deliver is probably the best interpretation of Fleming's Bond since the early sixties. From the sober blues and blacks of his clothing to the genuine sound of enjoyment when he laughs, this is Bond as he was originally written. He isn't putting on a show or playing a part - he is simply someone able to attract women through his commanding presence but also able to bungle up a job quite badly. There are no smutty one liners and relatively few miracles here to work in his favour, and the film is better for it. Bond is human.
Bond aside, the film does have a few faults. The beginning drags a bit because so much has to be set up; there are some slow scenes set in places like a hospital. There is a mild cop show vibe with one-note characters like the corrupt Killifer, but on the whole, the early exposition is serviceable. I enjoy every scene featuring slimy drunk Milton Krest because he is believable as a person, and villain Sanchez scores points simply because he is so sadistic and complex. And once Bond starts to get under Sanchez's skin, the film's pace never slows back down. Another troubling point is the suspension of disbelief required to accept Bond's rage over Leiter's maiming. Their relationship can barely be developed in half an hour, and Bond's flimsy excuse about the man risking his life many times for Bond falls flat. Some scenes also last one line too long - such as Sharky's light-hearted remark after Bond smacks a man into a tank of sharks and M's not-very-subtle verbal expression of warmth for 007 immediately after he goes renegade. These are small complaints, though. I enjoy most of the humour in the dialogue. It's not a comedy, but the comic relief works because there's actually some tension to relieve, and the characters make smart-arse remarks to each other, not the audience.
Other characters include Lupe Lamora, Sanchez's girlfriend. Because she is kept on a tight leash, she is drawn to Bond's heroic nature and turns to him for some shallow romance. Pam Bouvier, however, is a well-developed character. When Bouvier kisses him shortly after they meet, he asks her why she doesn't wait until she's asked. Her reply: "Why don't you ask me to?" After gaining Bond's respect and friendship, he gets all goofy and leaps into a pool with her; the speaker of each of these lines is reversed. It's a romantic way to end the film and shows that the two are equals much better than having them shoot a bunch of people together. Sanchez's cohorts are compelling and original as well and include Heller, an unassuming and practical colonel, Truman-Lodge, an energetic salesman, and the psychotic Dario, the only person Sanchez shows affection for.
"Licence To Kill" by NicNac
Licence to Kill had started life as the more palatable Licence Revoked, but for reasons now shrouded in rumours and legend, it was replaced.
So we now had a situation where the original title, - capturing the mood of the plot perfectly-, was substituted with a title that meant the exact opposite!
The Wilson/Maibaum plot delved a little into Ian Fleming's output, but in general this was all new Bond, chronicling the schemes of a South American drug Baron as he ingeniously transports his merchandise around the world.
The main talking point of the plot is Bond's new role as an 'avenging angel'. With his old CIA pal Felix Leiter mauled by a shark, and his (Felix's) new bride murdered, Bond goes against all his principles (as he clearly defined them in The Man With The Golden Gun), and sets out on revenge.
Or is it new?
After all, Bond was apparently a bit of a loose cannon at the start of DAF, and has for ever been scolded by M for not following orders! It's just that this time, Bond takes it all a step further. The suave, confident, globe-hopping, wise-cracking man of action, becomes a snarling, biting cold-blooded vigilante.
So when dear old Felix gets a chunk bitten out of him, Bond turns into Charles Bronson with knobs on.
Single minded and foul mouthed, this Bond sees only his main objective. He blunders through a plot that allows him to destroy Sanchez's empire in about 3 days flat despite Chinese agents having spent ‘years' trying to do the same. (Oh yes, and Bond gets them killed as well).
Bond lacks all poise and elegance, replacing them with an edginess that becomes tiresome.
One extra point for the line ‘Things could've turned nasty'. Not a good line, but the way Dalton says ‘nasty' is rather endearing.
Della, sweet and gentle (if a little too keen to snog Bond), feisty CIA pilot Pam, Sanchez's airhead mistress Lupe. A strange mix to be truthful, lacking in true glamour, and held back by Lupe's complete and utter lack of grey matter.
Pretty good. Sanchez has a real threatening menace, Krest (Anthony Zerbe) is wonderfully slimy and Dario (Benicio del Torro in an early role showing true star potential), Sanchez's young knife-wielding erm…protégé!
Also Truman-Lodge, Sanchez's financial adviser who whinges constantly, until Sanchez puts him out of our misery in a bid to ‘cut overheads'. Honestly, I would have done the same.
Between very little and none. When the film tries for humour it seems misplaced and falls flat. Dalton sounds awkward delivering the one liners, and even a nice healthy chunk of Q can not lift this film out of its self imposed gloom.
A half decent exchange
‘Pam this is Q, my uncle. Uncle this is Ms Kennedy…my cousin'
‘Ahh, we must be related'
One mark for the amusing shot of the parachutes trailing behind Bond and Leiter like bridal trails.
Plenty of that. But it is graphic and rather unpleasant. Exploding heads, defenceless girls being whipped, yes we expect this from movies, but not Bond movies.
Bond shows some delightful tendencies towards sexism (undervaluing Pam), but nothing otherwise to talk about. Having said that, the sudden change of expression on the face of the bank manager when he sees Bond's hefty case of money is worthy of a mark (or two).
Fairly top notch, with a decent bar room brawl, some fine water skiing stunts, and one of the greatest climatic action scene in Bond history as the fuel tankers dance down the winding mountain side - well paced and always exhilarating.
Also, seeing Bond out of his depth against the ninjas is satisfying (Roger Moore would somehow have beaten them both to a pulp).
Minimal. Florida, and some made up South American state. Not very inspiring.
Q provides a few goodies, including signature gun and exploding alarm clock. Maybe a little out of place in this movie, but a welcome relief from the intensity nonetheless.
The editing occasionally leaves some moments unclear.
Did Bond kick M in the stomach? After 3 viewings it finally becomes clear he didn't.
Did Bond see Leiter's buttonhole in Krest's warehouse? He did, because he goes back, but at the moment it happens, it remains unclear.
Exactly when did Sanchez do a deal with Killifer?
The much mentioned point, when we see a jovial Leiter sitting up in bed looking forward to a fishing trip with Bond. One can only assume Leiter was happy to leave all of his wife's funeral arrangements to Della's father, who I guess was on the nail when he declared he knew the marriage ‘was a mistake'.
On the plus side, some of the interiors are so opulent and decadent they overwhelm everything. I found myself gazing at the sets, rather than the actors.
"Licence To Kill" by FieldsMan
The decade was closing and after four consecutive films, Albert R. Broccoli brought one last James Bond epic to the 1980s - "License to Kill". The plot was strong and character driven, revealing Bond's darker side and the acting was brilliant. And although some of the sets and locations weren't as classy or beautiful as usual, they fitted the tone of the film, as did the score.
A scene from Ian Fleming's novel "Live and Let Die" provided the basis of the plot for the film, "License to Kill", whereby Bond's close ally and friend, Felix Leiter is mutilated by a shark. Broccoli's stepson Michael G. Wilson collaborated with veteran Bond scriptwriter Richard Maibaum and the idea of Bond going on a personal mission interested them, and as Bond delves deeply into the enemy organization, he soon realizes there ‘is more to this than his own personal vendetta.' The two plots worked well together and are quite suitable for the chosen locations.
The locations suited the film's plot, but for a Bond film, some were rather insipid. In saying that, Florida wasn't a bad choice for Felix and Della Leiter's home and the fictitious location of Isthumus City was beautiful. The sets have been somewhat better in other Bond films, but for this, Sanchez's residence was stunning, with its snow white walls, flowing cascades and amazing architecture. The Meditation Institute was exotic and the road and surroundings leading up to it were hauntingly beautiful.
Being a character driven story based on revenge, fine acting is essential, and the audience get even more than that, particularly from the actors portraying the villains. Robert Davi (as drug lord Franz Sanchez), Benicio Del Toro (as Sanchez's ruthless right hand man, Dario) and Anthony Zerbe (as the terribly slimy Milton Krest) all acted out their respective parts brilliantly, making Sanchez and Dario amongst the best dual villains along with Auric Goldfinger & Oddjob and Max Zorin & May Day. Carey Lowell is well suited for her role as the head strong, CIA pilot Pam Bouvier as was the actress who portrayed the damsel in distress and Sanchez's girlfriend, Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), and their acting was fine. Timothy Dalton reprised his role as the suave agent James Bond OO7 and he had given the infamous spy a darker edge, something audiences weren't as familiar with, and something that was rather similar to the literary character (This would be repeated in "The World Is Not Enough" (1999), "Die Another Day" (2002), "Casino Royale" (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). The MI6 regulars returned from their previous outing The Living Daylights, with the MI6 Quartermaster (Known primarily as ‘Q') been given a larger role in the field, who aids Bond at the request of an understandably worried Moneypenny. David Hedison reprised his role as Felix Leiter, who had played him sixteen years earlier in Roger Moore's debut in "Live and Let Die". He was superb in the role.
One of the most criticized aspects of "License to Kill" is the score and theme song. Michael Kamen provided the score for the movie which added to the unmistakable dark tone. His rendition of the Bond theme is terrific, which played through the breathtakingly dangerous tanker chase in the final act, and during Bond's marine escape (Bond barefoot water skiing) to name two. Gladys Knight provided a pop theme song and although it doesn't exactly start off with a fitting style to match the tone of the film, it eventually seems harder when the bass becomes more obvious.
Overall, "License to Kill" is an exceedingly enjoyable Bond film. The plot is unique and well written, the acting is top notch along with the soundtrack, but even though the locations could have been more glamorous, it is very fitting for the film's dark tone.
"Licence To Kill" by G section
Of all the Bond films, "Licence To Kill" is probably the most controversial of all. It is probably best described as the marmite of the Bond films. You either love it or pretty much hate it. For some, it brought the series back to the true James Bond of the books. For others, the dark intensity of the film made it seem not in the spirit of cinematic Bond like the films of Roger Moore.
Personally I love "Licence To Kill". The story is a clever mix of "Live And Let Die" and some of Fleming's short stories. Timothy Dalton proved he was the best Bond actor. He had the style, anger, humour, deadliness, coldness and in some ways loneliness of Ian Fleming's character. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always relate to James Bond in this film. But for me, the real stand out performance is by Benicio Del Toro as Dario. Has there ever been another Bond villain that is genuinely creepy? Robert Davi is not quite as good ,playing drug lord Franz Sanchez, as Del Toro but he is a worthy enemy of Bond. Anthony Zerbe plays Milton Krest with a cowardly and slimy nature particularly when facing Franz Sanchez. The regulars, Robert Brown, Caroline Bliss and Desmond Llewelyn are all back as their respective MI6'ers and its great that Q gets a much larger role in this film, with his gadgets being very believable.
Rounding out the cast is Frank McRae playing a sort of replacement of Quarrel, Talisa Soto as Lupe, much like the character of Domino in Thunderball and Carey Lowell as CIA agent Pam Bouvier, Bond's love interest in the film. McRae brings warmth and humour to his character, Sharkey and whilst Talisa Soto is sometimes annoying she makes up for it just by looking, uh, stunning. Carey Lowell is just right for her part, and whilst David Hedison's Felix Leiter is not my favourite he is believable as Bond's Best friend. It's nice to have a nod back to Bond's past in the scene where Felix explains to his wife Della (Priscilla Barnes) that Bond was married once. It's also nice touch to see the son of Pedro Armendariz as the corrupt president.
As ever in a Bond film the action is superb. The stand out scene being the climatic tanker chase. But my personal favourite involves Bond infiltrating Krest's headquarters and fighting the guard knocking them around (and in) the fish tanks. The action is noticeably more violent, particularly the scene where a character is placed inside a high pressure tank - we see his head explode in a bloody mess.
Overall, "Licence To Kill" is one of my favourites. A terrific action thriller and one of the closest films to Ian Fleming's James Bond.
"Licence To Kill" by James Clark
"I want you to know this is nothing personal. It's purely...business"
Sanchez's chilling words to an ill fated Leiter couldn't be further from how you would describe the 16th Bond adventure. Daring, provocative and the highest certified film by the BBFC, "Licence to Kill" harkens back to the roots of the 007 character created 37 years previously by Fleming as Dalton injects a brilliant sense of humanity and a no-nonsense attitude to the British secret agent we've come to love.
Licence to Kill works on many levels not simply as an intriguing, intricately detailed and engrossing thriller but almost as a stand alone film - a rogue agent on a personal revenge mission against the man who murdered and mutilated his friends. In his second and unfortunately final appearance as 007, Dalton shines. He will never be like his predecessors just as Moore never consciously tried to emulate Connery but with James Bond in the noughties Daniel Craig certainly has a lot to thank Timothy Dalton for. Both give very human portrayals of Fleming's character; characters who show emotion, show pain, anger, frustration, loss through their detailed, meticulously crafted personifications of Bond. You can imagine Dalton having to ruthlessly kill if the situation demanded it, which you would never get from Roger Moore's interpretation of the role.
Not only is this film a chance for Dalton to shine but Llewellyn's Q gets his longest screen appearance in the series to date, injecting some well timed and not too blatant comic interludes into the serious proceedings. The stand out character in the film is clearly Robert Davi's Sanchez, a man who rewards loyalty - at a price. Just don't double cross him or you'll probably end up like Krest!
Much like "Moonraker", I have never given much time to Dalton's second Bond outing perhaps largely because of its critical reponses and insistence from some ardent Bond afficionados that the film strays too far from the established Bond formula and is too real in its depictions of violence. On closer inspection, this is ironically the finest move made by the Bond producers since they decided to bring Bond back to Earth in For Your Eyes Only. This and Eyes Only present John Glen at his directing best and whilst The Living Daylights introduces Dalton's Bond to the screen with style, it is not until "Licence To Kill" that he really does prove his worth.
Had the box office not been populated by "Batman", "Lethal Weapon" and "Indiana Jones" - incidentally all focussing on heroic protagonists, Bond 16 would have achieved bigger business on general release in the summer of 1989. Regardless of this, the film is one of the best of the later Bond films and arguably the best Bond of the 1980s. It holds up brilliantly after 20 years. "How many times can one man leave you breathless?" Well, in answer to the teaser trailer voiceover, lots! Pop it in the DVD player and relive one of the best Bonds. "Bless your hearts!!"
"Licence To Kill" by groucho070
"License to Kill" works on one element that has been constant not on the 007 film series, but the books written by Ian Fleming, friendship. In the books, apart from his working colleagues, James Bond shares a warm friendship with his CIA ally, Felix Leiter. There are pages describing their lunch or dinner together and paragraphs showing how much Bond liked this straw haired Texan. Bond is a lonely man and it is not a coincidence that he found friendship with a man with similar profession and also had great taste in life; Leiter's recommendations on drink, food and cars are always treated with respect by Bond.
Taking an incident from the novel "Live and Let Die" involving a mauled Leiter, the film's scriptwriters mistook majority of the audience for being Fleming fans who knew of this friendship. That would be one of the reasons why it is not as well received as the other films. An armless or legless Leiter would not have mattered to the non-Fleming fans.
But that was what made a Fleming fan like me to care for what had happened to Leiter and his wife in this film and emphathise Bond. Like Bond we find ourselves re gritting our teeth, hissing, snarling at the Bad guys who hurt our man. And thus, we are thrown headlong into a revenge flick featuring not a cinematic James Bond, but THE James Bond, a creation by one of the greatest novelist of all time, Ian Fleming.
For a "serious" and "dark" film, it surprisingly contained chockfull of action. From the "fishing" pre title sequence, to Sanchez's escape (borrowed by James Cameron for "True Lies"), leading to the moment when Bond gives the compliment from Sharkey, right up to bare-foot skiing, and the taking over of the aircraft, its pure Bondian escapade without sacrificing the character created by Fleming.
The film takes a breather when we take in the people and the ambience of Isthmus City. We get to see more of Franz Sanchez, smooth, suave, brilliant businessmen with sadistic penchant of whipping his mistress with sting-ray tail and that too because of one thing that matters to him the most: loyalty.
We then wait anxiously as Bond makes his plan to assassinate Sanchez, and get even more nervous when the action fails necessitating Bond to be part of Sanchez's operation to get closer to him, destroy his organisation and, well, kill the mother! And the film ends with spectacular truck chase and we get to see a battered and bruised Bond at the end. Somehow, you feel that this would be a perfect ending for the franchise. To me, it was, till it was rebooted with "Casino Royale".
"Licence To Kill" by DOUBLE-O-NOEL
It was the year when "Batman", "Indiana Jones" and "Bond" were all on the film calendar. It was the second outing for the new 007. A revenge plot. People criticised that it was too serious and not as good as the first. But enough about "Quantum of Solace". Let's go back to 1989 where the landscape was identical. The film in question though was "License to Kill".
There I was in the Savoy cinema in Dublin, eagerly awaiting Timothy Dalton's second stab at Bond after "The Living Daylights" had captured my imagination. Then it began. When I heard Michael Kamen's painful music accompany that gunbarrel, I just knew this was going to be rough. It wasn't just Michael Kamen's music, everything in that pre-title just hit the wrong note. The ‘funny' stuff with Della's Dad, David Heddison's melodramatic acting, the dialogue. They're such small things but like ants, you put them together and they can make a huge impact.
But there was one moment in particular that stunned me. To this day I cannot understand the reasoning behind it; exactly what was a fine director like John Glen thinking as Bond watches Felix and his DEA buddies running across that tarmac - in slow motion? It's a ridiculous image with Kamen's ridiculous music and we then cut to a zoom-in on a pair of dopey looking pilots. Just awful stuff so far! As the plot unfolds after the credits we're introduced to some more of the same. Kilifer's cigar chomping assault on Sanchez is woeful as is David Heddison's line "See you in hell Sanchez!" Perhaps we're already there. I know, I'm being a bit harsh. Actors can only do what they're told by director and script but there's just such poor judgment being shown by all within that opening 25 minutes. Such melodrama, such hysteria, one would miss the presence of a few European actors to calm things down a bit. Where's Michael Lonsdale when you need him.
Even when things do settle down, I've always been a little bit disappointed with "License to Kill". The locations weren't especially eye-catching and apart from the truck sequence, the action scenes none too memorable. Obviously Bond can't have too many explosive conflicts with Sanchez as that would undermine the film's best idea where he's accepted into Sanchez's organisation. But even this twist is never played upon as well as it should've been. The fear of Bond being found out, his temptation to just kill Sanchez out of anger when close to him, all these little complexities are never really explored. It stifles the film methinks.
But what disappointed me most was that Timothy Dalton didn't have the same presence as before. "Strictly as an observer" Felix says to Bond in the pre-title and sadly that says it all. The beauty of "The Living Daylights" was that it was essentially a two-hander between Bond and Kara which made a perfect platform for the audience to get used to Dalton. We saw different sides to him. "Licence To Kill" is almost an ensemble film and the large cast seem to have slightly more animated characters to play with and in effect Dalton's muted approach gets lost in it all. This was the problem with the whole revenge plot, naturally Bond is a bit upset so that the sets the tone of his performance.
But this was Dalton's second film and perhaps the filmmakers should've been more aware that the audience was still trying to relate to him. Consider the first shot we see of Bond, just sitting in the back seat of the car with Felix and Sharkey. Mundane, ordinary. It's Dalton's film, even in the simple context more should be done to emphasise his presence. Now I've always had a soft spot for his Bond and I do bristle when people criticise him but sadly I don't think he ever did himself justice and nailed the character as he should've. In other films he has demonstrated a wicked, devilish charm but this was never brought to Bond. It's frustrating as I think had he grabbed the character by the scruff of the neck and played him with a bit more venom and gusto rather than brooding silence he would be remembered a lot more fondly than he is. Shame.
"Licence To Kill" by Dr. Kerim Largo
"Licence To Kill" has grown on me over the years. It took "Casino Royale" to make me appreciate "Licence To Kill". I did not like "Licence To Kill" at first as I thought it was too dark and too much like Miami Vice. After watching "Licence To Kill" after seeing "Casino Royale" and revisiting a few other Bond films (particularly "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), I had a better understanding of Dalton's motivation behind his Bond. The first Bond film not based off of a Fleming novel (although elements of "Live And Let Die" were borrowed). "Licence To Kill" had an excellent cast with Dalton, Robert Savi as Sanchez, Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier and Benico del Toro as Dario. "Licence To Kill" was Desmond Llewelyn's finest hour as Q. The rogue agent concept was great as it introduced a new element in the Bond franchise (unlike "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" where Bond was just on leave).
Conclusion: If you're new to the Bond series, you'll enjoy "Licence To Kill" more if you don't watch "Licence To Kill" first. To better appreciate "Licence To Kill", you need to understand the history of the Bond film series. "Licence To Kill" is probably one of, if not the most underated bond film of the series.