film, James Bond

Movie Review: Licence To Kill

Without question the darkest Bond film in the franchise. It also served as the final film for Timothy Dalton as Bond, Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny and Robert Brown as M. If this is what happens when Bond takes things personally, I do NOT want to be on his bad side. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Bond and Felix Leiter (David Hedison returning from Live and Let Die) are on their way to Felix’s wedding when they get a call that drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) is in the area. A quick stop there and Sanchez is captured. Shortly after Felix and his wife Della (Priscilla Barnes) marry, but what was supposed to be the best day of their lives turns into their worst. Sanchez bribes DEA agent Ed Killifer (Everett McGill) for his freedom and, along with his henchman Dario (Benicio Del Toro) take Felix to an aquarium (owned by Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe), an associate of Sanchez.) Bond hears Sanchez escaped and arrives to find Felix maimed, courtesy of a tiger shark, and Della dead and possibly raped. Bond and a friend Sharkey (Frank McRae) investigate leading to the aquarium and discover Sanchez’s submarine used for smuggling cocaine. Bond kills Killifer by forcing him to drop into the shark tank. An angry M demands Bond report to his mission and Bond resigns to go after Sanchez. M instead suspends him and revokes his licence to kill. Bond, along with a friend of Felix at the CIA Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), an unauthorized Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and Sanchez’s mistress Lupe (Talisa Soto), aim to stop Sanchez once and for all.

As I said this is the darkest Bond in the entire franchise, and with good reason. While I admit the writing could have been better in a few places and a couple of things don’t make sense the characters make up for it. Bond is a man without anything to lose and it shows; I personally think between Dalton’s two performances as 007 this is his better one. My thoughts on Pam will be later so I’d like to focus on the others. Lupe is a pretty good Bond girl, admittedly very damsel and “oh James”, but nonetheless she gave Pam a run for her money as who would Bond end up with. Sanchez is one of my favorite villains in the Bond franchise; he is so evil, creepy and overall just a good bad guy. I don’t see him on many top Bond villains list; which I understand there are better villains, but I still love to hate this guy. While this was not his first film Del Toro stood out as the maniacal Dario; on a side note Dario and Sanchez’s death are two of the most gruesome/spectacular in the franchise along with Krest. Brown’s final appearance as M really packed a punch and I was disappointed for two reasons. When Bond flees M prevents someone from shooting him not because he cared but because “there are too many people”, come on really. Also there seems to be no reconciliation at the end of the movie even though Felix says m has a job for Bond. Bliss is only on screen for probably two minutes, and not the best Moneypenny, but if it wasn’t for her Q wouldn’t have been there to help. This is my favorite Q performance out of Llewellyn because he basically defies orders to help Bond out, showing as much as he gets annoyed at him Q has a soft spot for 007, I also liked his scenes with Pam. While I would not say Licence to Kill should be placed high on a recommendation list, I would still say if you like the Bond franchise then watch this movie.