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License To Kill

Timothy Dalton's second James Bond 007 movie 16th in the series

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"Now what happened in the book was that Bond...."

  • Dec 9, 2009
Rating:
+3
James Bond's 16th film is actually not as bad as some people might think it was but much like The Living Daylights, gets ignored for a simple reason, it's Bond was Timothy Dalton.

Taking a very different approach in this movie over other Bonds, Bond is acting on his own this time where both sides of the law are out for Bond and the villian, secondly this is a VIOLENT movie, pushing an "R" for violence rating at times.  A man is maimed by a shark which is even straight out of the Live and Let Die book, another is killed in a depressurizer another is ground up in a cocaine grinder among the other more tamer, action scenes.  Third it's got a "book" feeling as far as the original books would have with Bond not coming out of his adventures smelling like a rose or the more realistic scale of the villains.  Finally as I said above it's a Timothy Dalton Bond so some people get that different "feel" for him then other actors before or since.  I still don't think Dalton is bad as every bond has that strength or element of the Bond of the books and Dalton is no exception.  He's still a little too cool and icy sometimes and his humor could be better but he has a dark and more human touch that is nice too.  

In this adventure, Bond is just finishing up attending his friend Felix Leiter's wedding just after Felix in a great pre title sequence just caught his prize catch, a druglord named Franz Sanchez who came into America for his girlfriend and got pinched.  Sanchez doesn't stay locked up long and takes his revenge on Felix.  When Bond gets the news, revenge is the only thing on his mind but his boss M has other plans for Bond.  Bond leaves the British Secret Service and goes renegade with the help of a friend of Felix's down to Mexico to infiltrate Sanchez's drug gang and kill Sanchez.

What really helps bring Bond down to Earth here is that he isn't immune to being more human then in other adventures.  In the great For Your Eyes Only, he warns the beautiful Melina about revenge but now that the shoe is on the other foot, that doesn't seem to matter much.  Bond's ego is also in the way as he continually tells his friends that he doesn't need help when he clearly does.  The villians are a smug bunch, especially Dario played by a young Benicio Del Toro as the lead henchman and you can't wait to see wiped out by Bond especially in a finale that could put Michael Bay to shame with the number of HUGE explosions on display from exploding gasoline filled tanker trucks in a chase down a Mexican highway.  The best part is that THIS is the revenge story that Diamonds Are Forever SHOULD have been.  Bond is serious as a heart attack on his quest for vengance here.

Any downspots?  Well, Bond after drugdealers isn't the most exciting theme and Live and Let Die had a lot more fun with the characters and action.  The Bond girls while very lovely as always (Carey Lowel and Talisa Soto) aren't the most memorable and the locales, short of Sanchez's mansion and the drug lab which harkens back to the older days of Bond aren't too special and really feel again like a Bond book where Bond wasn't always in the swankiest of hotels or eating cavier at every meal.  Not bad but not glamourous either.

If you've been ignoring this Bond simply because of who is playing Bond then you owe it to yourself to give this one a shot.  It still has that Classic Bond flavor with plenty of action before Pierce Brosnan's Bond came along and turned the Bond series into glorified action movies (but still fun).   If anyone out there has been wondering what those old Ian Fleming books felt like, short of the first couple of movies, this is your best bet for it's harsh and Earthly tones mixed with some glamour.  Or, if you want to see some stuff get blown up real good there is that too.

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More License To Kill (film) reviews
Quick Tip by . May 10, 2010
posted in Bond, James Bond
Bond goes it alone to avenge his best friend. Not bad but nothing spectacular. Worth a rewatch if you haven't seen it in a whle.
Quick Tip by . December 08, 2009
Hard edged James Bond movie is violent but still remains stylish and fun with Bond after a druglord. Dalton is better then people think.
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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Movies, Action Movies, Action, James Bond, Spy, Martini, 007, Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, John Glen
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