Licence-To-Kill-1-DI
1989 Running time: 128 Certificate: 15 Not yet rated
Licence-To-Kill-KA

Synopsis

Following the twists and globe-trotting turns of The Living Daylights, the second and final outing for Timothy Dalton's Bond is a more straightforward and surprisingly bloodthirsty affair. This time it's personal as 007 crosses Central America by land, sea and air to bring down the gloatingly sadistic druglord (Robert Davi) who ruined his CIA buddy Felix Leiter's wedding day. May the best man win.

Director

  • John Glen

Cast

  • Timothy Dalton

  • Robert Davi

  • Cary Lowell

  • Talisa Soto

  • Anthony Zerbe

Review

With Ian Fleming's last Bond title used for The Living Daylights, Dalton's swansong was all set to go as Licence Revoked. The name change was necessary because 50% of Americans don't know the meaning of 'revoked'.

So, Idaho, how does Quantum of Solace grab ya?

Whatever the reason, perhaps pandering to US audiences is the reason Licence to Kill plays like a very long and predictable episode of MacGyver.

Putting the '00' into snooze, it sends our man in the Bahamas on an unauthorised mission to bring down Davi's Sanchez, a cocaine kingpin of indeterminate South American extraction who keeps a pet iguana to emphasise his cold-bloodedness.

Bond is miffed because Sanchez has just put a dampener on Felix Leiter's nuptials by killing his bride and feeding him to Great White sharks (cue traditional Latino send-off: "Eez nothing poorson-al; eez juss... biznuss").

Since Leiter is the dullest recurring character in Bond-lore, this should have been cause for celebration. Sadly, it merely sets in (horribly slow) motion a series of TV movie-ish events during which Dalton spends too much time underwater and Davi ends every sentence with a rubbish one-liner.

The fact that Bond must eventually choose between Talisa Soto as Sanchez's mistreated squeeze Lupe and Carey Lowell as plucky pilot Pam Bouvier adds little pina to the tepid colada.

Still, at least these Bond girls managed to stay in the public eye; Lowell as Mrs Richard Gere - and as a regular on TV's Law & Order, obviously - and Soto in, er, Mortal Kombat.

Destined for bigger things was a certain Benicio Del Toro, leering effectively as the Sanchez henchman who almost does for Bond. Of course, he fails. As does Anthony Zerbe's greasy mariner Milton Krest.

But their gruesome failures are among the few memorable moments in what has to be the most perfunctory entry in the series.

From the 'original' theme song (Gladys Knight doing a lazy rehash of 'Goldfinger') to Q's why-bother gadgets, this is just Bond treading water.

Director John Glen does eventually pick up the pace, building to a pleasingly explosive climax involving stinger missiles and a quartet of speeding oil tankers.

But despite the fancy truckwork, it's no surprise that this was to be the last of Glen's five Bond assignments.

It also marked the end for screenwriter Richard Maibaum, as well as Caroline Bliss's sparingly used Moneypenny and 'M' actor Robert Brown, whose final screen act was to strip Bond of his '00' privileges.

Yet after restoring Bond's professionalism (even when he's been fired) and manliness (not least by adding the head-butt to his armoury), Dalton was to be Licence To Kill's most notable casualty.

Maybe he already knew it, but the Dracula hairstyle certainly didn't help.