Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Licence to Kill aiming straight for your heart
Year: 1989
Director: John Glen
Stars: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, David Hedison, Don Stroud, Desmond Llewelyn, Everett McGill, Don Stroud, Priscilla Barnes, Benicio Del Toro, Wayne Newton
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: On leave to serve as best man at the wedding of CIA chum, Felix Leiter (David Hedison), secret agent James Bond (Timothy Dalton) assists in capturing notorious, South American drug baron Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). Sanchez is freed by his compatriot Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) and takes revenge by maiming Leiter in a shark attack and killing his wife (Priscilla Barnes). An enraged Bond tries to settle the score, but has his license to kill suspended by cautious superiors. Going rogue, Bond trails Sanchez to his casino and goes undercover as a gambler, with help from gutsy pilot Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) and good, old “Q” (Desmond Llewelyn). He romances Sanchez’s sultry mistress Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) and infiltrates the drugs factory, before the final, breakneck truck chase across the Mexican mountains.

Probably the most controversial James Bond movie, Licence to Kill was also sadly the lowest grossing and concluded Timothy Dalton’s brief tenure as 007. Although nowhere near as bad as its detractors claim, the film suffers from John Glen’s usual sluggish pacing, some awkward detours (subplots about contras and guided missiles go nowhere), and a tendency to want to have its cake and eat it. This was supposedly a harder-edged, grittier Bond, more in tune with the action movies of the eighties/nineties. The violence certainly bears this out: a procession of shark maiming, exploding heads, human fireballs, and a young Benicio Del Toro minced up in a grinder, that until recently were severely cut from most home video releases. Yet sitting beside these grisly details (which thrilled many a schoolboy in ’89) are some lapses into silliness: a pointless barroom brawl (which at least features that “mine’s bigger than yours gag” between Pam Bouvier and Bond) and a surreal interlude with Wayne Newton as the televangelist-style head of Olimpatec.

Bond himself was so bloodied and battered at the climax he drew the ire of British tabloids who realised - gasp! - Princess Diana would be at the world premiere. Can’t let the royals see that sort of thing. Some of this “realism” undercuts the allure of Bond. Post-détente, the makers felt Russian spies and hi-tech masterminds no longer cut it as Bond villains; but once you’ve faced an evil genius plotting to wipe out all mankind, a two-bit drug lord seems rather underwhelming. Nonetheless, Robert Davi (despite being described by one critic as “an evil Ted Danson”) is a menacing presence, Anthony Zerbe is suitably slimy, and there are further, worthy villainous turns from Don Stroud, Everett McGill and the aforementioned Del Toro.

In the long, hot summer of 1989, jostled between Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Licence to Kill struggled to make an impact, but is arguably the best Bond film of the eighties. It gets a lot things right. Timothy Dalton is exemplary, perfecting his intense interpretation of Bond; a hero who is moved when bad things happen to good people. There is a nice moment between him and Priscilla Barnes as Leiter’s intended, and long term fans will appreciate it’s the death of a bride on her wedding day that spurs Bond into action. His mission is most definitely personal. The pre-credits sequence with Bond and Leiter bungee-jumping from a helicopter in wedding tuxedos kicks things off in high style and the titanic truck duel that closes the film is thrilling. Moreover, we have two very alluring, contrasted Bond girls with Cary Lowell as the feisty, yet vulnerable action gal (a far better stab at a proactive Bond girl than Jinx in Die Another Day (2002)) and Talisa Soto as the glamorous, fickle, yet abused gangster’s moll. Plus any Bond movie that features the wonderful Desmond Llewelyn doing far more than just doling out gadgets can’t be all that bad. Let’s put one rumour to rest though. The original title - Licence Revoked - was not changed because American preview audiences didn’t know what “revoked” meant, but because they associated those words with having your driver’s license annulled. Besides, what kind of theme song would that make?

Click here to watch the music video
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 7114 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (2)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: