REVIEW: Licence to Kill (1989)

movies_james_bond_poster_gallery_18James Bond (Timothy Dalton) goes rogue after his best friend CIA Agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) is tortured by drug baron Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi).

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.

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3 comments

    1. I’d not seen the Dalton-Bond films before but I love them both so much. They are now up there with my favourite Bond films and The Living Daylights might even get a place in my Top Ten Favourite Films in general.

      I think the Dalton films are so tonally different to the Roger Moore ones that they stand out for me. The plots are solid, the action is well put together and the Bond Girls are actually quite “strong female characters” which is a stark change to some previous Bond Girls.

      I really do recommend Dalton’s outings as Bond.

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