LICENSE TO KILL

(1989)
With Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, David Hedison, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Caroline Bliss
Directed by John Glen
Reviewed by JL and JB

Q's "sex tape" ended tragically when his camera turned into a laser     LICENCE TO KILL, featuring Timothy Dalton's second and last outing as James Bond, is one of the most controversial films in the Bond series.  No other Bond film had ever been so firmly grounded in reality nor so graphic in its depiction of violence.  Rather than chasing megalomaniacs through exotic locales, LICENCE TO KILL finds Bond on a personal revenge mission, determined to redress the horrific maiming of longtime CIA pal Felix Leiter and the murder of Leiter's wife by a sadistic drug lord.  Bond is not even officially "007" for most of the film, having been stripped of his rank when his superiors determine his actions to be outside the interests of the British Secret Service.  Bond films can be violent, but never so disturbingly as in this film, where we are treated to such delights as people being set aflame and heads blowing up in pressure chambers.  Still, if one can excuse (or even appreciate) such moments, the film has much to offer in terms of thrills, adventure, and even a bit more character study than is the norm for the Bond series.  Robert Davi is one of the most memorable and truly evil of all Bond villains; and the always-delightful Desmond Llewelyn has his largest role as Q, who in this film works alongside Bond in the field.  Although not among the best Bond films, LICENCE TO KILL is certainly the most unique of them all, and for that the producers should be given credit for attempting a fresh approach. 3½ - JL


    The film that made Bond fans all over the word say "Hey, I remember that Felix Leiter guy!".  David Hedison (famous as the poor schmoe scientist who screws himself up so royally in the first version of THE FLY) has a second go-round as Bond's CIA buddy (his first was in LIVE AND LET DIE), and casting him was a nice touch, as was including the classic note pinned to his body after he was fed to the sharks ("He disagreed with something that ate him"), taken from the Fleming novel Live and Let Die.  As for Bond... yes, Bond has a licence to kill and uses it freely in this film.  Everywhere he goes, somebody dies a horrible death.  This is hardly a Bond film at all, but that's not a complaint. The most interesting Bond films happen when the makers forget about the formula for a while and attempt something new.  THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS was a huge Bondian romp in the tradition of ON HER MAJERSTY'S SECRET SERVICE or THE SPY WHO LOVED ME with Dalton going along for the ride as the stand-in for George Lazenby and Roger Moore.  LICENCE TO KILL, however, is Dalton's statement of who he is as James Bond.  And he's a tough son-of-a-bitch who will not only kill you, but kill you in the most gruesome way he can think of using whatever is at hand.  Perhaps it was all too much for casual Bond fans, who wanted girls, gadgets and gags, because this the last Bond film for nearly a decade.   But I loved it, and though I am a big Pierce Brosnan fan, I still miss Tim Dalton. 4 - JB

007 Page    Prev. Film: The Living Daylights    Next Film: Goldeneye
The Secret Vortex

HOW TO TALK LIKE A BOND VILLAIN

"When it gets up to your ankles, you're going to beg to tell me everything. When it gets up to your knees, you'll kiss my ass to kill you. "


"M" IS FOR THE MISSONS THAT HE GAVE ME

Robert Brown     Robert Brown, who had appeared as Admiral Hargreaves in the film The Spy Who Loved Me, took over the role of M from the late Bernard Lee in Octopussy.  There is some conjecture by Bond scholars that M was actually Admiral Hargreaves promoted to the position of head of MI6, and therefore a new M.  Brown continued the role through the final Moore film A View to Kill and into the two Timothy Dalton films, The Living Daylights and License to Kill.  While a fine actor, Brown never had the opportunity to develop the character into anything more than an expositionary one, telling Bond his mission near the beginning of each film.  Perhaps his finest moment in the series comes in License to Kill, when M strips Bond of his Double-0 status.

    Brown's non-Bond films included Ben-Hur (1959) and One Million Years B.C. (1966).  In a quirk of fate, his first film appearance was an uncredited military policeman in The Third Man (1949), which also featured Bernard Lee, the  man he would later replace as M.  Brown died in 2003.