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Film Title

Licence to Kill

Director

John Glen

Starring

  • Timothy Dalton as James Bond
  • Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier
  • Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez
  • Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora
  • Anthony Zerbe as Milton Krest
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • David Hedison as Felix Leiter
  • Frank McRae as Sharkey
  • Everett McGill as Ed Killifer
  • Benicio Del Toro as Dario
  • Robert Brown as M
  • Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny

After his excellent turn as 007 in The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton returned for what was to be his last outing as the agent. With Licence to Kill, the mood is much more serious than your average Bond fare and the results are dark and very brutal. Yet this change brings something new to the series and there is much to praise in this polarizing entry into the franchise.

In the beginning of the movie, Bond aids old CIA friend Felix Leiter in his search with the DEA for the powerful drugs lord Franz Sanchez. After the successful capture of the fleeing Sanchez, Felix marries a new bride by the name of Della and all seems to be going well. Licence to Kill posterTheir wedded bliss is cut tragically short after people on the inside and working for Sanchez, help the psychopath to escape and he has Felix’s bride murdered and Felix horribly mutilated by a shark. Severely angered and filled with a large sense of loyalty to his friend, Bond takes it upon himself to track down Sanchez and get revenge for what he did to Felix. This attitude for personal revenge has him stripped of his licence to kill by MI6 so Bond goes rogue in his vendetta against Sanchez. Licence to Kill BondRecruiting tough-talking CIA agent and skilled pilot Pam Bouvier and helped by a vacationing Q, 007 goes from Florida to Mexico in his search for Sanchez and cunningly enters his inner circle, hoping it will bring him face to face with the violent drugs baron. Lets just say the results are going to be explosive and very tense to say the least.

In comparison to other Bond movies, Licence to Kill is by far the most adult of the series. With realistic violence and aggression a plenty, it is something of a departure from the adventurous nature of other Bond flicks. John Glen, in his last outing as Bond director, gives the film a welcome dose of savagery as Bond severs ties with restrictions of Government and goes at it alone. Violence is at its highest in Licence to Kill as people are maimed by sharks, Lupe, the caged girlfriend of Sanchez, is savagely whipped by him using a stingray tail and one character has his head stretched and blown up in sadistically, grisly fashion. Admittedly, some of this change may not all be effective, but it’s interesting to see the formula be twisted into something harsher and darker than before. Franz SanchezThere is a sense of brutality that hangs over Licence to Kill that marks it as a Bond movie with a different purpose than most. Even the whole main villain is not a mastermind trying to destroy the world which is usually the case, he is a powerful drugs baron with a hidden business. In this movie it brings the threats posed by him more profound as they are very believable in nature and the menace it provides is chilling. Michael Kamen provides the accented score, that gets to the heart of the revenge theme and fashions it into Latin rhythms and slinking drums. Soul diva Gladys Knight belts out the title track with power and finesse, giving the song passion and drama to boot.

Even though his tenure as 007 was too short, Dalton gave it his all. This really shows in Licence to Kill as we see Bond for the first time on a personal mission that only he can end. Dalton excellently shows the anger and hate Bond has for Sanchez and how he cunningly begins to infiltrate the drugs baron’s impenetrable system. Up until this point we hadn’t seen Bond at the end of his tether and bruised, but Dalton pulls this side of him off with grit and determination. Ably supporting him is Carey Lowell, who brings a sultry yet tough quality to the part of CIA agent Pam. Pam BouvierThis is a Bond girl who can fight her own battles, use her sexual prowess to get what she wants, match Bond in terms of intellect and is more than resilient in terms of resources. Exuding brooding menace and burning paranoia is Robert Davi as the antagonist Sanchez. Davi genuinely gives the role a darkness and he truly makes Sanchez a chilling adversary for 007. It is really interesting watching the dynamic between Bond and Sanchez and how Bond plants seeds of doubt in the head of Sanchez that cause him to doubt the loyalty of those around him. Talisa Soto exhibits vulnerability and the need for escape as Lupe, the girlfriend of Sanchez who has had enough of his cruelty. Anthony Zerbe is cunning as one Sanchez’s many workers, while there is a happy extended turn from Desmond Llewelyn as Q. In this entry, Q loyally aids Bond on his vendetta and this film really shows how valuable Q is as 007 comes up against enemies. David Hedison returns as Felix Leiter after portraying the character in Live and Let Die, and gives Felix a tragedy as his fate is what sets in motion Bond’s revenge mission. Frank McRae is a likable ally for Bond and Everett McGill is supremely slimy as the man who betrayed Felix because of Sanchez. In an early role, Benicio Del Toro is sinister and unhinged as Dario, a young henchman for Sanchez who is skilled with a switch blade and relishes the chance to dispatch those in his way. Robert Brown is strong and gruff in his last outing as M, yet Caroline Bliss this time around is not given enough to do as Moneypenny.

Brutal and unflinching, Licence to Kill may divide opinion but it does have an impact as we see the DNA of the series morph into something darker than normal.

 

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