The second and last picture to have Timothy Dalton as a cold as
ice James Bond is 1989's LICENCE TO KILL. If you like your 007s as dry
as a dry martini, this may be the Bond for you. Otherwise, you may
feel Dalton belongs with George Lazenby (ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET
SERVICE) as one of the actors who disgraced the Bond name.
LICENCE TO KILL features Robert Davi as a drug smuggler named
Franz Sanchez, a sadomasochist who likes to whip his women when they
don't obey. Sanchez's band of drug runners use maggots to camouflage
their stash and sharks to munch on any drug enforcement officers who
get too close. CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) reappears from
1973's LIVE AND LET DIE, and promptly gets severely munched. Bond, who
wants to go after the mutilators of his old friend Leiter, gets his
"licence to kill" revoked by M when he refuses to give up the hunt.
Although set on Key West and on a Caribbean island, the
cinematography by Alec Mills and the sets by Peter Lamont have none of
the usual lovely travelogue aspect of Bond pictures. The mundane
visuals fit right in with the bland storyline.
Where are the signature chase scenes, the sexual humor and the
romantic trysts that we come to Bond films for in the first place?
Here the chase scenes are mainly saved until the end.
In the perfect Bond setup, he runs out of gas in a speedboat on a
romantic evening with a beautiful woman, Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell).
Dalton's reaction? He is miffed about the delay. Although his Bond
finally agrees to a sexual encounter with her, it is only because she
pressures him. The old James sought out such opportunities without
being coerced. The only genuinely erotic scene occurs later when Bond
sticks his hand up Pam's skirt, but he's just going for her hidden gun.
Dalton is dead serious, having little time to waste on women or humor.
(LICENCE TO KILL is the first Bond film to be rated PG-13 - they
since have all had this rating - which is partly because of the
addition in the early 1980s of the PG-13 rating and partly because of
the increased amount of blood and profanity in LICENCE TO KILL.)
A white-suited Wayne Newton, providing some much needed humor,
appears in a cameo as a televangelist on the prowl for donations. His
real purpose is to convey the wholesale price of drugs and negotiate
drug deals on the air in secret.
After a languid and completely formulaic movie, the pace finally
picks up at the end in a long chase scene using large gasoline trucks.
When the only memorable visual is a semi doing a wheelie, you know the
picture is in trouble.
LICENCE TO KILL runs too long at 2:13. It is rated PG-13 for
profanity and violence and would be fine for kids around 9 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 9, thought the movie was just okay. He gave
it ** and complained that it was too bloody.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes