James Bond: From Worst to Best – Licence to Kill

Licence to Kill


Great shot of Bond here. Dalton really went back to Fleming’s novels for his portrayal

In my earlier post of Moonraker, I mentioned the “Bond Formula.” Where Bond gets his mission, gets his gadgets, confronts the villain while finding his Bond girl, and leads a raid on the villains lair. This is true for a lot of the films; however, there is a turn that other Bond films take to make it a little more interesting…and that’s James Bond gone rogue. In this case, something big happens, Bond is told to leave it alone, he obviously doesn’t and goes AWOL to usually get revenge, then confronts the villain, gets the girl, and leads a raid/chases down the bad guy. This didn’t often happen until Licence to Kill, but then we saw it again in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and SPECTRE. It’s in this film that it’s actually presented as a little more intense due to the fact that MI6 and M himself actually take Bond’s gun, his license to kill, and try to arrest him. Makes for a good action sequence and for much more tension in contrast to the later films where is basically like “oh, Bond you’re disobeying orders! You’re doing a great job here but my superior doesn’t like it so I have to yell at you!” Judi Dench was great, but this was really the extent of what she had to do in Casino Royale and Quantum. 

Now that I’ve touched on that, I can get to the actual movie. This is Timothy Dalton’s second and last appearance as James Bond, and I feel the guy got a bad wrap. Sure, he was much more serious and violent than Roger Moore (I mean, who wasn’t?), but he had the tough job of bringing these films into the 80s and upping the action. For this, Dalton obviously studied Ian Fleming’s novels pretty closely and went back to the direct and brutal agent Bond was in the first place. This is something we really hadn’t seen since From Russia with Love. Sure, he can deliver a good one-liner once in awhile, but he definitely took the mission seriously, and Dalton does a great job here.

Licence To Kill 3

Robert Davi & Benicio Del Toro are fantastic here

Special effects wizard, Chris Corbould (who has been with the series since The Spy Who Loved Me) really did some great work on this film. The opening scene with Bond jumping from a helicopter onto a small commuter airplane, hooking onto it, and then having the helicopter tow it vertically is fantastic. Corbould later got to drastically up the ante with a similar stunt for the opening of The Dark Knight Rises. That sequence along with the semi-truck chase at the end are terrific. In between the two, you get a young and evil Benicio Del Toro, a number of violent sequences including a man exploding, and even Q in the field! This is a great Bond movie. It’s got a great Bond girl in Carey Lowell and the tag team villains of Del Toro & Robert Davi. While at times it feels like a Stallone/Schwarzenegger action flick people were used to in the 80s, I don’t see that as a bad thing. Upping the action was just something that was going to happen with the times. Every decade these films get updated to suit the times, and Dalton’s were just right.

Worst to Best so far:
24. Live & Let Die
23. The Man with the Golden Gun
22. A View to a Kill
21. Die Another Day
20. Octopussy
19. Moonraker
18. Diamonds are Forever
17. Quantum of Solace

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