Licence To Kill
Enter a tougher Bond ...
Licence To Kill(1989)
Distributed by MGM/UA Home Video
Despite a problem with the title ( originally Licence Revoked ) and a higher censorship certificate Timothy Dalton continues in the role of British spy James Bond. The opening has James attending the wedding of his pal & ex-CIA agent Felix Leiter ( played again by Live's David Hedison ... why ? ). On the way to the church their car is stopped by Leiter's pals and told of drug lord Franz Sanchez ( Robert Davi ) making a rare trip to Florida to sort out a personal matter. With James in tow, Felix flies off in a DEA helicopter to capture Sanchez - if so important why only 3 of them armed & Bond going after him ? ... perhaps a budget cut ? After much shooting James hooks Sanchez's escaping plane in mid-air followed by James & Felix parachuting down for the waiting bride. Enter Gladys Knight ( without her Pips ) with a powerful Bond song and the opening titles. The story continues with villain Sanchez, who gets the best one-liners ( e.g. at the beginning when discovering earlier his girl-friend's new lover tells his men "Give her his heart" and near the end when asked what to do with the blood-stained money "Launder it" ), buying off the DEA agent Killifer ( played by Everett tv's Twin Peaks McGill ) with $2 million. After escaping, his men ( led by a young Benicio del Toro as Dario ) are instructed to kill Felix's wife and bring Leiter to him for torture. Poor Leiter is fed to a shark ( a scene from Fleming's Live And Let Die - the note telling 007 that He disagreed with something that ate him ) and returned almost dead to his home until James finds him. Due to their friendship James goes on a personal vendetta and during which time M has to revoke his licence to kill - "We're not a country club 007 !". With the help of Pam Bouvier ( stunning & curvy Carey Lowell ) Bond goes after Sanchez. Along the way he meets up again with Sanchez's girl-friend Lupe Lamora ( another beauty Talisa Soto ) who falls for James' charms. Desmond Q Llewelyn also sees more of the action when he flies in with more gadgets ( just how did he get through customs ? ) while M & Moneypenny ( Robert Brown & Caroline Bliss make their final appearances ) are seen briefly.
Watch out for a fun cameo by Wayne Newton as fund-raiser Professor Joe who has to "bless your heart" when seeing the money disappearing in Bouvier's arms. Michael Lethal Weapons Kamen takes over the musical side and makes good use of the James Bond Theme while adding his own style to accompany the action which includes water-skiing and hitching a lift aboard a tanker ... with a 007 difference. My only gripe with the movie is Hedison's Leiter, after losing his leg and a new wife he's still smiling and looking forward to going fishing with James at the end ... whatever happened to grief ?
Despite a harder edge Bond and a gritty script tailored for Dalton, this adventure still didn't win over the post Moore audience. With the long legal wait for the next movie, Timothy Dalton decided to hang up his 'licence' and move on with his career. It's a great shame as Tim proved a good Bond more in tune with Fleming than Moore. He was to be replaced some six years later by a more popular and media friendly 007.
Note: When first released on video in 1990 Warner Home Video introduced the 2 sided cover sleeve - side 1 ( top left ) with the series cover of gun barrel shadow 007 and side 2 ( middle left ) of the movie poster with title fonts.
First released in 2006 MGM Home Entertainment brought us James Bond Ultimate Edition 2-Disc DVD set of each of the 20 movies, now in 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment repackage the same 2 MGM discs with a cardboard copy cover ( this one with Dalton & Lowell - just passable like the whole golden theme series ) and minus the interesting eight page booklet. The format remains the same with disc one having the digitally restored movie and disc two with the extras - Declassified: MI6 Vault, 007 Mission Control, Mission Dossier, Ministry of Propaganda & Image Database. Each menu has a Bond lookalike silhouette, shooting girls, casino chips & cards and gun barrels incorporating photos & music from the movie.
Two regular features tucked away in 007 Mission Control with movie snips is a section called Exotic Locations with Samantha Moneypenny Bond narrating about the filming locations & their history and within 007 section is Opening Titles - Textless enabling you to enjoy them without wording covering the girls/images.
For this disc movie audio commentary comes mainly from director John Glen who also guides us through his deleted scenes. On the extras we get 2 pop videos - Knight's one with the movie clips and LaBelle's end song without the clips, trailers, documentaries include the making of the movie in Mexico & Florida, the Kenworth trucks, a short home video of location scouting with Peter Lamont and a montage of interviews called Bond '89. The Image Database uses a casino wheel to display the photos ( some annoyingly cut to fit ) plus a 'lost' art promotion campaign.
So another interesting insight for Bond fans, especially of Dalton as 007.