Here’s Luke of Oracle of Film‘s review of Licence To Kill (1989)
“He disagreed with something that ate him.”
Number of Times Seen: 4
Brief Synopsis: Bond abandons MI6 to chase after a drug cartel, when their kingpin, Sanchez, hurts someone close to him.
My Take On It: While The Living Daylights might have seemed a little weak for Timothy Dalton, my favourite actor to play Bond, Licence to Kill is one of the best ones, in my book.
Bizarrely, to the general public, it is one of the worst. Why? Well, there is something very anti-Bond about it. Dalton abandons His Majesty’s Secret Service for a personal vendetta, the producers knock the Rating up to a 15 and the villain isn’t so much of a criminal mastermind, as a glorified drug lord. In a way, it blends into the rest of the action scene of the 80s, a Bond movie coming across as another tired effort in a bloated genre. Roger Moore is almost missed, his routine yet reliable sense of fun, abandoned for a misjudged crowd-pleaser. It boasts great moments: a stunning car chase finale, a scene involving a shark that is up there with the best of mafia movie executions and a water-skiing plane heist that screams ‘Bond, James Bond’. However, because it lacks that Bond spark, critics argue that few of these beats hit home.
I disagree. Licence to Kill is actually one of the most crucial Bond movies in the canon. Bond, as a character, is sadly quite hollow. The death of his wife is all but forgotten, a few quips from Moore reminding us from time to time. In truth, the character of James Bond is an excuse to make a ‘Bond’ movie. He is more of a genre or a franchise, than an actual person. Licence to Kill changes that. We get a rare peak under his armour and, for once, we feel closer to the character than ever before. He isn’t fighting out of duty, but out of anger and love. Emotion runs through this movie with such dangerous intensity, worlds away from anything Roger Moore, or even Sean Connery, gave us. Licence to Kill is a fantastic movie and Timothy Dalton is the perfect actor to carry it.
Bottom Line: Remembered poorly, despite actually exploring Bond’s emotional depth and true colours. A great Bond.