Licence to Kill is a lot different to previous Bond films and Bond’s mission is one of vengeance and while Sanchez is obviously a bad guy because he’s a drug baron, he doesn’t have a “take over the world” plan like many Bond villains do. Having Sanchez being such a realistic bad guy makes him more threatening, he surrounds himself with violent and greedy men (including a very young Benicio Del Toro) and is incredibly intimidating.
Much like The Living Daylights (1987), Licence to Kill is quite a dark film and it’s also surprisingly violent and bloody for a Bond film. People get eaten by sharks, a guy’s head explodes and someone gets sucked into a metal machine of death.
The Bond girls in Licence to Kill are both pretty great. Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) is a CIA informer and former army pilot that doesn’t really need Bond’s help when a fight starts. She’s resourceful and while she falls for Bond’s charms (of course) she saves him a couple of times and helps him in his quest to take down Sanchez. Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) is Sanchez’s woman, someone that he sees more as a possession than a person. Lupe is understandably scared of Sanchez but still manages to help Bond out. I liked how Lupe and Pam were really different women who both may have fallen for Bond (of course) but were also strong and resourceful in different ways.
Q (Desmond Llewelyn) has a much bigger role in this film compared to his previous outings. He even joins Bond on his investigation and it’s a delight every moment he’s on screen. I loved how Q and Bond’s relationship in Licence to Kill – Dalton and Llewelyn had great chemistry.
Licence to Kill is action-packed, has a ridiculous finale with trucks that’s also pretty great, and has some great characters. 5/5.