LICENCE TO KILL, 1989
The first PG-13 rated Bond proves closer to an R rating with the most extreme graphic violence in any bond film. Sanchez (Robert Davi) a Colombian drug smuggler kills Felix Leiter's (Hedison) wife and feeds Leiter to a shark, but Leiter survives. Bond goes ballistic in an ultimate revenge action adventure, chasing Sanchez and his men down and quitting MI6 in the process to achieve his objective. A bloody action packed, dark and disturbing bond film.
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No Bond film has dared to tread the line with an R rating, but Licence to Kill definitely does. Director Glen's best film in my opinion and the riskiest Bond film ever made. Bloody and gritty dealing with the Colombian drug trade in southern Florida and Colombia. Sanchez who is extremely dangerous uses his wealth and power to buy his freedom, his men alongside him are equally as dangerous with a young Benicio Del Toro playing Dario, ready to kill anyone. Bond is charging with the soul purpose of revenging his friend Felix Leiter and his wife. It is hinted that he is profoundly affected by Felix's wife's death, because of his own wife's death a long time ago which propels Bond in a dark territory and vengeful feelings.
The film is exciting and fast paced with a slew of bad guys and two Bond girls both fighting over Bond's affections. This film has a larger role for Q which is fun to see. The brutal violence is determined by Sanchez and his men's violent natures emulating the drug trade and the history of the cocaine cowboy war stories in Miami. Known in real life as violent people the drug trade here is used as a thrilling nemesis and something Bond has never before tackled. He is mainly used to megalomaniacs, which Sanchez is, but in drug control. Sanchez's power is unnerving right from the beginning of the film in the opening sequence, which blends into the film nicely. Most Bond films separate the opening sequence and the film altogether. Sanchez Cuts his girlfriend's lover's heart out to prove a point that she cannot be with anybody else. This action provides the tone of the film.
What strikes me in Licence to Kill is the lack of cheesiness. Dalton delivers the lines continually in his dark tone, which to me is very funny, but the way he portrays Bond you're not sure to laugh or not. Another interesting twist in the film, compared to other Bond films is how Bond's vendetta forces him to make enemies with his own department MI6. This ups the ante on who to trust, because at this point Bond has to act completely alone in order not to have that trust breached, and they portray this wonderfully in the film, for example Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) is helping Bond and Bond tries to send her home trying to push her away owning up to his own vendetta and his own vendetta alone. He succumbs to her charm and keeps a watchful eye until they absolutely need each other in the end. The story between Pam and Bond is a strong through line. It unfolds due to the actions of the film and when Bond is tempted by Lupe Lamora, (Talisa Soto) Sanchez's girl who falls for Bond, Bond goes through great emotions to realize the right girl is Pam. Never has Bond ever had to fall in the trap between two women so dangerously and in the end he proves to be the better man, which is good to see and shows Dalton's Bond as an honest, deep hearted Bond doing a job where he can't always be himself.
The final show down and tanker scene at the end of the movie is great. It reminds me of the Raiders of the Lost Ark truck chase scene. At the end of the action scene the final showdown with Sanchez and Bond is extremely satisfying proving that the Bond films do always give what the audience wants: the end of a villain and victory for the hero.
Licence to Kill, although not successful at the time, was a daring portrayal of Bond. It took some major risks and I applaud the grittiness of the film. It is John Glen's most emotional, clearest and mature Bond film out of the five he directed. Unfortunately Bond spent 5 years in legal issues forcing Dalton to resign as the title character. I would have liked to see where Dalton could of taken the role next, but due to the unsuccessful monetary earnings of the film, Bond took another direction in the Nineties. I am glad that this film was made. It is a one of a kind Bond film and it remains very unique to this day as I re watch all the films.