No Time to Die just yet, so let’s look back at the 80s Bond action classic ‘Licence to Kill‘!
It was recently announced that No Time to Die would be delayed until November due to world health concerns. It would have been the first James Bond film not released in the fall since Licence to Kill.
Let’s take a look back this 007 entry which debuted in the United States on July 14th 1989. Despite its mixed quality James Bond never stood a chance in the summer getting unceremoniously crushed by Tim Burton’s Batman.
Timothy Dalton’s Most Ultimate Performance
The second and ultimately last Timothy Dalton film took the fun, quippy style of his first outing and traded it in for something much darker and crueler. Gone is Bond’s sense of fun. He no longer rides on the back of cellos or battles headphone wearing villains. Instead he wears a constant glower and does everything he can not to enjoy his job. This attempt at such a bland, incomprehensible devotion to idea of revenge wasn’t revisited with any ernest again until the lackluster film The Quantum of Solace.
Licence to Kill centers around Bond’s attempt to annihilate, Franz Sanchez, a vicious drug lord and dole out some vengeance for his good friend and longtime Bond ally Felix Leiter. Despite its masterfully dark tone, slow pace and bland locations the movie does know how have fun once in a while. Sharks eat people, pressurized chambers explode people and then there’s Benicio Del Toro, who just enjoys killing people.
Incredibly Brutal and Strangely Unique
These may not be the perfect ingredients for an action movie but they definitely don’t hurt. It’s all incredibly brutal but it’s also strangely unique. I defy you to list any number of movies that killed anyone using a pressurized chamber. It’s the kind of thing that puts Licence to Kill on the map.
Del Toro is a treasure unto himself and as always he manages to stand out here. He’s creepy, suave and sports the kind of bravado that Bond relishes destroying with little thought for anyone else’s pain and suffering. His bone-crushing death is one of the movie’s more memorable moments. Looking away is expected but impossible.
Gladys Knight’s Licence to Kill song that opens the film is a hidden gem among the many James Bond theme songs. A throaty, iconic number gave Knight some terrific high notes along with her first British top-ten hit since 1977.
How Ultimate of a Bond Movie is it?
Not everything stays rosey in Licence to Kill country. Eventually, Wayne Newton makes a cameo appearance as a phony TV evangelist. He’s the kind of actor who would need to say a prayer just to make it through a scene. Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier doesn’t do much more to help the film stay above water. She’s about as flat and dry as almost everything else in the movie. Lowell struggles to overcome the movie’s tepid script and slow moving plot.
The end of the film finally ratchets up the action including a harrowing oil tanker chase and an explosion that reminds the audience Bond is not to be trifled with. Bond himself retains a personality that is never trifled with or all that terribly interesting. His dial is set to anger or really angry and no one and nothing changes that.
Licence to Kill may be an average Bond film but it still manages to let its hair down once in a while. If only those man-eating sharks got a few one-liners of their own.