Director: John Glen
Cast: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, David Hedison, Wayne Newton, Benicio del Toro, Robert Brown, Caroline Bliss, Desmond Llewelyn
Film matched beverage: The Cocaine
Synopsis: An escaped drug lord goes after the man who put him in custody… Felix Leiter. He leaves Leiter horribly maimed, and his just married wife murdered. M does not sanction Bond in seeking retribution for this murder, so he resigns from MI6 and pursues Leiter’s killer.
In talking with other viewers of this film, I have generally found opinion can be quite divided. It does not help that in Australia, this for years has been one Bond film that has been played on free-to-air television to the point of saturation. This is really quite interesting, as Licence to Kill is an even darker film than The Living Daylights, with Bond’s motives stemming from a very personal place.
Dalton continues from the stellar performance he gave in the previous film, and remains incredibly convincing as a super-suave super-spy. To match him, Davi plays villain Sanchez with a great deal of menace, and as a result there is less room for comedy in this film. It is there, but there is a lot else going on which keeps the drama overriding any humour. For me personally, this was a great choice, given that the action sequences match this tone very well, and some of them are incredibly spectacular. Dalton moved from Bond’s history of driving a car on two wheels to doing just that with a petrol tanker. The fact this act avoids collision with a rocket adds another level to this already spectacular moment.
Both Bond Girls in this film tough are powerful in their own way. Soto is an abused woman who over the course of the film finds her strength to finally double cross Sanchez, whom treats his pet iguana better than he does her. Lowell’s Pam Bouvier is also a fantastic Bond Girl, herself a former army pilot, whom gets right into the action alongside with Bond. Rather than being a damsel that needs saving, she is sassy and right there in the thick of it… a very real ally.
It almost seems defunct to comment now on what Blu-ray has done for this film. We are in the late 80s with the release of this film, and the quality of what was put on camera was already very high. So the upgrade is beautiful here in cleaning up the image, and highlighting more minor details quite well.
Licence to Kill may divide audiences, but I am a fan. Dalton leads a (for once uniformly) outstanding cast, in a dramatic, dark story very worth telling.
4 stars out of 5
The Cocaine recipe
0.5 parts Grand Marnier
0.5 parts 152 proof rum
Shake ingredients on ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass.