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Bond: Licence to Kill

Nov. 12, 2008by: Chris Bumbray
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When THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS came out in the summer of 1987, it was a modest financial success- but clearly, audiences were not flocking to Bond films the way they used to. Obviously, the formula needed to be shaken up somewhat.

In the eighties, North American audiences were action crazy- with films like DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON, PREDATOR, and RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, raking up tons of dough. Obviously, the Bond producers wanted to cash in on this new hardcore action trend- and the decision was made to make the next Bond instalment, the grittiest and most violent entry in the series thus far.

LICENCE TO KILL

PLOT: When Bonds friend and ally, Felix Leiter is violently attacked and left widowed on his wedding day, Bond goes on the warpath- vowing to kill the Columbian drug lord responsible for the attack.

REVIEW: I write this having just seen QUANTUM OF SOLACE. My full review of that film will not be up until Friday, but one of the things that struck me most about it was how incredibly similar it is to LICENCE TO KILL. Both films feature a newly gritty and timely Bond in his second outing, and both films depart vastly from the Bond formula. While LICENCE TO KILL was panned when it came out, so far the response to QUANTUM is positive enough to indicate that audiences are more responsive to a dark, violent, angst ridden Bond than they were almost twenty years ago.

While QUANTUM is obviously heavily inspired by the BOURNE films, LICENCE TO KILL is probably the result of Cubby Broccoli, & Michael G. Wilson having watched a bunch of Joel Silver films. Every frame of this film screams late eighties action flick- from the Michael Kamen score, to the violent action sequences, to the Columbian drug dealer villain. Heck- it even has an eighties style bar fight that looks like it came right out of ROAD HOUSE!

Despite the considerable change of pace, I still really like LICENCE TO KILL, and like Daltons other entry, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS- its an underrated flick. While its not particularly faithful to the established formula of the franchise, its still quite faithful to the character of Bond himself- and more than any of the other actors (Craig included), Dalton really embodies the literary Bond of the original Ian Fleming novels.

Obviously at some point, the producers went back to the novels for inspiration. Heck, even the whole attack on Leiter, from the pack of sharks devouring one of his arms and legs- to the note he disagreed with something that ate him, was actually lifted right out of the book LIVE AND LET DIE. In the novels, Bond was more of a flawed hero, prone to embarking on mad quests for vengeance, and Dalton- who supposedly studied the novels closely, seems to really understand what makes the character tick.

For me, the best part of the film is really the first half, where Bond investigates one of Sanchezs associates, Milton Krest. At this point, another of Bonds friends- Sharkey (a very Quarrel-esque character played by eighties action mainstay Frank McRae) gets killed by some of Krests henchmen. Once Bond sees Sharkeys lifeless body, he flies into a blind rage and, in one of the most bad ass sequences in the franchises history, calmly takes a harpoon gun- walks up to the man responsible, and shoots the guy point blank in the chest- telling him: compliments of Sharkey! Totally awesome stuff, although the film slows down a bit once he hits Mexico City, and begins infiltrating Sanchezs cartel- which is a little too Joel Silver for a Bond flick. Happily, Q gets a much larger than usual role, going AWOL in order to help Bond out on his mission. Awesome stuff- making an already solid Bond film all the better.

BOND

Once again, Dalton does a great job as Bond. Its a pity he never got a third film, as I truly think he would have won more people over had he been given some time. Still, both of Daltons films are excellent- even though everyone seems to enjoy beating up on the guy due to the fact that his films did not break box office records. Id love to see Dalton make a comeback someday. His scene stealing turn in HOT FUZZ proves how versatile the guy is, and it would be nice to see him get some more decent roles. As hes now in his early sixties, I could easily see him as a supporting actor in the Brian Cox mold.

VILLAIN

Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez is EASILY the best Bond villain of the eighties. I love the fact that Sanchez is not a raving lunatic like some other Bond villains, and its actually believable that the charismatic, somewhat personable Sanchez could inspire loyalty from his men and build a drug empire. He also has a mean sadistic streak (which includes whipping his beautiful girlfriend with a riding crop) thats pretty brutal for a Bond film. Watching the film now, Im amazed how violent it is, and Im shocked that it managed to squeeze by the MPAA with a PG-13, while something like LETHAL WEAPON 2, which is much less violent, got an R.

BOND GIRL

We get two great ones in this outing, led by Carey Lowell (aka Mrs. Richard Gere- lucky bastard!) as ex- CIA pilot Pam Bouvier- whos one of the toughest (but still smoking hot) Bond girls in the series. In many ways, her tough as nails action heroine was ahead of its time- as Bouvier is definitely the type of role Id see someone like Angelina Jolie playing nowadays.


We also get the stunning Talisa Soto as Lupe, Sanchezs abused ex-model girlfriend- who inspires an early violent scene where Sanchez has her lovers heart cut out (by Benicio Del Toro)- that really establishes the films gritty tone.

BOND MUSIC: John Barry had quit the franchise by this point, and Michael Kamen, who scored DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON, & ROAD HOUSE was brought in to provide the music. While it doesnt sound particularly Bondian- its still a great action score the fits the movie like a glove. Not too keen on the Gladys Knight theme song...

BODY COUNT: Bond himself only kills ten, but its still a very violent outing. At one point, Bouvier sends a henchman to a violent death by knocking him into an industrial shredder. At another point- Sanchez locks someone in a decompression chamber, and watches as their head explodes.

NUMBER OF WOMEN BOND SLEEPS WITH: As Bond is on a mission of vengeance, he doesnt have that much time to sleep around, but he still manages to bed both Pam & Lupe.

BEST ONE- LINER: [Killifer- the traitor CIA agent that sold Leiter out, is dangling on a rope over shark-infested water]
Killifer: There's $2 million in that suitcase. I'll split it with you.
Bond: You earned it. You keep it, Old Buddy!
[Bond then chucks the case at him, knocking him into the water, and to a very violent death]

BEST DOUBLE ENTENDRE: [After Bond has introduced Pam as his executive secretary Miss Kennedy]
Bouvier: It's Ms. Kennedy. And why can't you be my executive secretary?
Bond: We're south of the border. It's a man's world.

BEST GADGET: : Bond rocks an awesome signature gun supplied by Q that can only be fired by him.

RECEPTION: Despite its reputation as a box office dud, LICENCE TO KILL actually made $156 Million worldwide- which was more than the $140 Million made by THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. However, it was a major box office bomb in the U.S, only pulling in $33 Million- although bear in mind, it had to compete against BATMAN & LETHAL WEAPON 2.

GRADE: 8/10- another very solid Dalton outing.

Previous reviews: DR. NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE , GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER , LIVE AND LET DIE, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, MOONRAKER, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, OCTOPUSSY, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, A VIEW TO A KILL, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS

Source: JoBlo.com

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4:54AM on 11/13/2008

They weren't bad films

The problem with these Bonds was timing. In the late 80s people still wanted the schlock camp Bond. They didn't want the Bond of the books, and of Ian Fleming's self indulgent image of himself as a younger man. They wanted the camp Bond that was born of the 70's movies.

If they'd have had "reboots" back then, they would have been far more successful. The problem was they didn't fit in the late Connery and Moore Bond films.
The problem with these Bonds was timing. In the late 80s people still wanted the schlock camp Bond. They didn't want the Bond of the books, and of Ian Fleming's self indulgent image of himself as a younger man. They wanted the camp Bond that was born of the 70's movies.

If they'd have had "reboots" back then, they would have been far more successful. The problem was they didn't fit in the late Connery and Moore Bond films.
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5:37PM on 11/12/2008

Wow....

Again, as I mentioned in my post for 'The Living Daylights'...Dalton's films have the best openings and endings...(Opening theme by Gladys Knight and the ending by Patti LaBelle).

There is so much going for this film; and YOU CAN EVEN FOLLOW THE PLOT!!! You know, with each and every scene, why Bond is doing what he is doing.

Dalton left the series too early. At least he should have been able to do one more....(A strong trilogy is always good).

Talisa Soto and Carey Lowell were lovely
Again, as I mentioned in my post for 'The Living Daylights'...Dalton's films have the best openings and endings...(Opening theme by Gladys Knight and the ending by Patti LaBelle).

There is so much going for this film; and YOU CAN EVEN FOLLOW THE PLOT!!! You know, with each and every scene, why Bond is doing what he is doing.

Dalton left the series too early. At least he should have been able to do one more....(A strong trilogy is always good).

Talisa Soto and Carey Lowell were lovely women with class....and it was cool seeing Q in action.

Robert Davi was brilliant as Sanchez, as was Anthony Zerbe, and Benicio del Toro...

This came out during the year of Batman (as did Indiana Jones), so anything that was not Batman related was brushed over.

Too, this Bond was nearly R-rated...

I think my only gripe was the score by the late Michael Kamen, which came off a bit generic. (He is not one of my favorite composers).

Still, the movie kicks ass...

7.5/10
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5:32PM on 11/12/2008
Great review Im glad Im not the only person who really enjoys this one. Dalton shouldve done more Bonds, I love seeing Benicio in one of his first roles, and Davi was an excellent bad guy. One of my top 10 Bonds
Great review Im glad Im not the only person who really enjoys this one. Dalton shouldve done more Bonds, I love seeing Benicio in one of his first roles, and Davi was an excellent bad guy. One of my top 10 Bonds
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1:50PM on 11/12/2008

DALTON'S A BADASS BOND

Surprisingly its Timothy Dalton who was my first cinema exposure to Bond. Like most reviews here I agree he make a great but underrated Bond. He was equally badass as Connery tho less humorous than Moore; but I always preferred him to both Lazenby and Brosnan.
Surprisingly its Timothy Dalton who was my first cinema exposure to Bond. Like most reviews here I agree he make a great but underrated Bond. He was equally badass as Connery tho less humorous than Moore; but I always preferred him to both Lazenby and Brosnan.
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12:39PM on 11/12/2008
Though I prefer The Living Daylights more, License to Kill is another solid entry to Bond franchise and Dalton proved he can be real-world Bond. Too bad he was very underrated as Bond. And Robert Davi was a very convincing villain.
Though I prefer The Living Daylights more, License to Kill is another solid entry to Bond franchise and Dalton proved he can be real-world Bond. Too bad he was very underrated as Bond. And Robert Davi was a very convincing villain.
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12:17PM on 11/12/2008

another solid outing

dalton should have got more of a chance but they wanted brosnan all along

a good flick and i love the young benicio as a henchman

great villian too

8.5/10
dalton should have got more of a chance but they wanted brosnan all along

a good flick and i love the young benicio as a henchman

great villian too

8.5/10
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12:10PM on 11/12/2008
One of my favorite Bonds.

9/10
One of my favorite Bonds.

9/10
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11:43AM on 11/12/2008

Ode to Dalton!

Couldn't agree more with this review - tight film - great Bond. NOTE: I couldn't help myself - An ode to Dalton:
[link]
Couldn't agree more with this review - tight film - great Bond. NOTE: I couldn't help myself - An ode to Dalton:
[link]
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8:06AM on 11/12/2008
Like ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, this was one that people "just didn't get" back in the day. It had a darker tone and was pretty blood thirsty for a Bond film, so it's easy to understand why audiences responded poorly. Also, I think EON made a mistake releasing it in the summer of '89, which was a HUGE summer for movies. Still, it is definitely one of the best of the series, and it's tough attitude makes it a refreshing departure. Dalton was a Bond ahead of his time.

8/10
Like ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, this was one that people "just didn't get" back in the day. It had a darker tone and was pretty blood thirsty for a Bond film, so it's easy to understand why audiences responded poorly. Also, I think EON made a mistake releasing it in the summer of '89, which was a HUGE summer for movies. Still, it is definitely one of the best of the series, and it's tough attitude makes it a refreshing departure. Dalton was a Bond ahead of his time.

8/10
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