Licence to Kill

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The 16th official Bond film features the 2nd and final appearance of Timothy Dalton in the title roll. Pity he didn’t have more opportunities to play the character as I enjoyed his interpretation. This is the first in the series to carry the PG-13 rating instead of the PG. The language is a little coarser and the violence is a bit more graphic this time around. Virtually absent are the double entendre or veiled sexual references. Bond is becoming more of a straightforward action series.

While I liked the premise and plot of Licence to Kill, The Living Daylights seemed like a better overall film. Here, Bond is after revenge when a drug lord and weapons smuggler kills the bride of Bond’s CIA pal Felix on their wedding day, kidnaps Felix and then feeds the bottom half of Felix to a shark. MI-6 pulls Bond’s “licence to kill” and Bond goes rogue, bent on revenge. At least that’s what we’re supposed to think. The movie never fully explores the character’s motivations and the film basically uses that as a plot device to move the action forward. Ultimately, there seem to be few consequences for Bond, “M” sends unofficial help in the form of “Q” and his gadgets and Bond teams up with one of the better all around Bond girl’s – Agent Pan Bouvier (Carey Lowell). She’s tough, talented and stunningly sexy, everything a Bond heroine should be. licence-to-kill-516b862211942

Once it’s over though, Bond and Felix- now without legs- seem emotionally unfazed by the events. Although they reference Bond’s deceased wife, the film makers never really explore the character in a way that would have made this a truly interesting and unique film. We may have to wait for Daniel Craig for that or go back and watch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service again.

Director John Glen has gotten better with the action pieces since he directed his first Bond film, 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, but that was a better film overall than Licence to Kill.

Licence to Kill is a serviceable action movie and the increased grittiness of the action serves Bond, particularly the Dalton Bond well. However, there’s just too much silliness left to make this a good film (How many times can you say “vendetta”)? Dalton’s run as Bond may have been brief, but I don’t think it’s his fault neither film succeeds fully. Let’s blame that on the producers and on John Glen, who directed 5 Bond films but only managed to produce one really good one: FYEO, his first and one of the best in the series.

The Bond Theme Song is sung by Gladys Knight. She sounds good, but this is not even close to the best Bond song.