Licence To Kill (1989) - REVIEWS ONLY

DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
edited December 2022 in Reviews Posts: 23,356
Please write your fan reviews of LTK here.


  • edited March 2013 Posts: 12,828
    After I'd seen TLD at the cinema, I became a big Bond fan. The moment I got home I watched GF and TSWLM on VHS. But as cool as these were, Dalton was still my favourite, I wanted another Dalton film. Which is why I was heart broken when I found out this was a 15, so I couldn't get into the cinema to see it.

    I got the VHS for Christmas one year, and after I'd seen it, I knew straight away that it had overtaken TLD as my favourite Bond film.

    Everything about the film impresses me. From the epic PTS to the final tanker chase, there's never a dull moment. And I didn't realise it when I first watched it as a kid, but it really explores the character of Bond. Dalton takes his portrayal to the extreme. In TLD we get hints of Bond being unhappy with his job (the whole stuff my orders bit), and Felix being attacked seems be the straw that broke the camels back. Bond is rogue and Dalton really shows his brutal, more sadistic side. It's still the Bond we know but he's been tipped over the edge and the darker side which was always evident in films before is fully realised, as well as the human side. Bond really cares about Felix and Della and he's at his most human here since OHMSS.

    The film manages to feel dark and gritty without going too far from the Bond formula. All the regular Bond elements are there, but they're used in new intresting ways, like Q, who goes out of his way to help Bond and gets stuck in, something we don't normally see.

    The action is brilliant. People say that LTK doesn't feel like a Bond movie, but how can you say that when it's full of epic stunts like plane fishing, plane water skiing, and the final tanker chase, all done for real. Dalton is the best part of the film, he really gives it his all and he does something new and original with the character. I also heard that Dalton helped the other actors while Glen just wanted to plan the next big action scene, shows he really cared about Bond.

    The story is great. Bond at first tries to kill Sanchez, but then after being attacked and becoming friends with Sanchez he decides a better revenge would be destroying his operation from the inside. He does this, and things get really tense, especially as Sanchez is so keen on loyalty, you don't want Bond to get found out. Dario is a great, memorable and threatening henchman, Lupe is hot and Pam is a great character who is just as hot as Lupe. Then there's Robert Davi as Sanchez. IMO the best villian of the entire series, threatening, brutal, great lines, a memorable gimmick, you know he's a man that you wouldn't want to be on the bad side of.

    LTK is my favourite Bond film and it contains my favourite scene of the series. When James Bond, covered in blood, sand and coke, after having his cover blown, escaping an exploding drug lab, leaping onto a moving plane while being shot at and surviving an explosive tanker chase, finally ends up facing a machete wielding Sanchez.

    Sanchez is about to kill him when Bond says "don't you want to know why?" and draws a lighter, the one Felix gave him. Sanchez looks at him in shock then Bond sets fire to him, Bond stumbles off into the desert as Sanchez blows himself up via the tanker.

    Bond collapses onto a rock and stares back at the burning wreckage and breaths a sigh of relief. He's got his revenge and it's finally all over.

    I can't think of another moment where Bond has earned his victory more. It's a great moment, brilliantly acted that shows just how badass and resilient Bond is.

    And it sums up the franchise in a wierd, unintentional sort of way. It doesn't matter how many legal issues there are, how many other spy series' claim to be the best, it doesn't matter if there's a writers strike or a bad movie: Bond will carry on and will always come out on top.

    Sadly though, even though it was pretty successful in most places, for some reason Licence To Kill didn't do too well in America. And this was the last Dalton film :( But we'll always have this one and TLD to remember how brilliant and ahead of his time the man was.
  • M16_CartM16_Cart Craig fanboy?
    edited December 2014 Posts: 538
    License to Kill

    Timothy Dalton's second and final entry in the franchise is more violent, more intense and more astray from the standard Bond formula than The Living Daylights. It also, unfortunately, was one of the lowest-selling films since the audience didn't warmly respond to the series becoming darker. Some, of course, felt like this was more of a Miami Vice film than a James Bond film. Plot-wise, perhaps. But this portrayal of the Bond character as a troubled stressed brooding killer is more accurate than Connery and Moore's portrayal which has glamorized the gravity of Bond's work. The emphasis on womanizing is toned down here as well, even though Bond is a little more promiscuous than in TLD.

    LTK is a fast-paced movie that relentlessly feeds the viewer intense action scene after intense action scene. Even the slow scenes are enthralling since they build up suspense. With lots of gunshots, explosions, chases and brawls, it's a roller coaster ride that never lets up. But even with all of that, it still established that Bond as a stealthy spy. An underrated gem overall.

    Theme Song: (Gladys Knight) A good song in itself, but doesn't quite fit with the tone of the movie.
    "Bond Girl": (Pam Bouvier) She's tough as nail and every bit as strong as Bond, strapped with a shotgun and kevlar. One of Bond's better companions.
    The Villain: (Franz Sanchez) A no-nonsense drug lord who is razor-sharp and lacks the naivety present in many other villains. Pretty good villain overall.
    One-Liners: "I'll do anything for a woman with a knife." & "I'm more of a problem eliminator"

    Overall Rating: 8/10 (Great)
  • ThomasCrown76ThomasCrown76 Augusta, ks
    Posts: 757
    It's a great James Bond film. Unfortunately, coming on the heels of twelve years of Roger Moore, some people were still expecting the silly jokes and wondering when Sanchez would unveil his secret space station or waiting anxiously for Bond to shag his 5th conquest of the movie.
    As I have gotten older, I have grown to like Dalton, Connery, and Craig a lot more, and have grown to despise the Roger Moore Bonds. Brosnan is a good actor when given the right material and people to work with. He was just not served well at all by the directors and writers of his films, with the exception of Campbell. I still enjoy Tomorrow Never Dies for what it is.
    Back to Licence to's James Bond at his most James Bondy-est. That's right. I just typed that;)
  • Daniel316Daniel316 United States
    Posts: 210
    That was Licence To Kill. Final Thoughts? Amazing

    So to begin with, we have a really good gunbarrel to kick off the film. Now unlike The Living Daylights, we get a really good cast of characters. We have Sanchez the main baddie played by Robert Davi and he is just the perfect blend of evil, sinister, cocky, classy and badass and Davi does it amazingly. We also have probably my favorite Bond girl with Pam Bouvier, who is pretty skilled and badass but also adds lots of fun humor and moments to the film such as when she reacts to the Vodka Martini, the Camera Laser and of course the famous scene of her mocking Lupe.

    This film also has imo Desmond's best performance as Q in the film series, not only is he more involved here but he's also up to his usual humorous self here and I very much appreciate it. I also think Dario and Milton Krest were pretty decent henchmen and played their roles well. And of course we get the return of David Hedison as Felix and he's as great as ever. This film also has imo a pretty good and underappreciated score that works really well with each scene.

    There's also great action, Great Humor filled moments and Tension. I also quite liked the more serious and dark tone, this movie pulled it off very well imo because while it was more dark it kept the signature bond elements that make Bond what it is, and imo it's the only time Bond going rouge was done correctly. And last but not least I wanna mention that the plot is very simple but effective which is a star contrast from the previous film, oh and we get a good performance by Dalton as Bond here.

    Now This movie isn't flawless I'm afraid. For starters I think that Bond often overacts and argues with people far to much, I get that Felix nearly died but him constantly bickering with Pam when she's right and telling her to go home so many times is just tiring to see. Speaking of Pam that love scene between her and Bond on the boat made 0 sense and felt incredibly forced, I feel their moment should've been saved for the end of the film.

    Another flaw was up with those Ninjas and that MI6 agent working for sanchez? They weren't exactly explained very well which is not exactly a good thing. Another thing with this film is that well sometimes the movie looks cheaply made, granted it doesn't take me out of the film or ruin it but it is something worth noting. I also feel as if the character of Lupe is just plain bad and feels like a parody of a typical bond girl, like her love for James is so ridiculous and just stupid, she feels like she's there for Eye candy alone but she isn't a total waste I suppose.

    And last but not least I need to say this, whoever was the hair stylist for Dalton in the Casino needs to be fired, that count Dracula haircut is awful plain and simple.

    But in the end, Licence To Kill is a fantastic Bond film and it's a lot of fun to watch, sure it has its issues but I don't think they overshadow the overall greatness of this one, and imo they finally got Dalton right with this one, just a shame this would be his last

    My final rating is a 9/10
  • LocqueLocque Escaped from a Namur prison
    edited July 2020 Posts: 262
    I've always preferred Bond movies that deviate from the formula, that dare to take the franchise down new paths.
    The madman-with-a-bomb plot was fun in Goldfinger, but after a dozen or so movies that end with Bond disarming a nuclear device in the nick of time, it gets pretty stale.

    Licence to Kill is probably the film that veers the furthest from what you'd expect a Bond movie to be. Bond disobeying orders and going rogue to avenge a friend, it is a gritty, violent tale of revenge, with few of the winks and nods you'd find in the previous films. But just when you think it starts to feel like a generic eighties action flick, out of nowhere the writers throw in a bunch of ninjas to remind you that, yes, you are indeed watching a Bond movie.

    While Bond girl Talisa Soto clearly wasn't cast for her thespian abilities, there are some great performances here: Robert Davi creates one of the best villains of the series: charming, yet menacing; intelligent yet unpredictable. While he may be more grounded in reality than some of the over-the-top bad guys of the past, he's just as memorable, if not more so.
    Anthony Zerbe and a very young Benicio del Toro are also very good as henchmen/underlings and Timothy Dalton himself is a lot better here than in The Living Daylights: he's more confident, more at ease in the role and it helps that the writers have figured out they shouldn't give him Roger Moore style one-liners.

    The movie culminates in a meticulously planned, choreographed, and executed chase sequence, a mechanical ballet starring four trucks, two cars, and an aeroplane. It is truly one of the best chases in the series, if not movie history.

    While I consider Licence to Kill a franchise highlight, general audience didn't seem to take to the new direction and it was, and still is, the least profitable Bond movie in the series.
    So, after six years of legal battles resulting from the bankruptcy of MGM, Eon would cast a new Bond; a funnier, more lighthearted Bond, who could do Roger Moore style one-liners and who'd once again be up against madmen-with-a-bomb.
  • SeveSeve The island of Lemoy
    edited November 2021 Posts: 357
    As time passes the more I seem to enjoy LTK, which eliminates the silly moments that often spoilt my enjoyment of the Moore era, and were still somewhat in evidence during TLD. Overall the action is still not entirely "realistic", because that's not what James Bond movies are about, but it does contain some more "gritty" moments, which are a welcome addition in my opinion.

    This time around I watched the Dalton movies with my Mum and now she rates him second only to Connery, although she loves Roger, from his days as the Saint, and also likes PB (Lazenby not so much).

    I enjoyed the whole wedding related opening, which ends with a very James Bond flourish, triumphally parachuting into the ceremony after capturing the villain

    Some decent action around the research centre, although I think they could have added a few actual living larvae/maggots into the food draw mix, as the fake ones looked very fake, all moving up and down in unison like popcorn, rather than wriggling independently in that way which makes your skin crawl. I mean, how expensive can real larvae/maggots be?

    Then (shock, horror) Bond goes rogue... but not so rogue that he doesn't still get support from Moneypenny and Q. In fact this must be the high water mark of Desmond Llewelyn's incarnation of Q, as he helps out on the mission as well as supplying equipment.

    More good work in and around the Wavecrest, where rogue Bond acquires a bankroll to fund his operations, and even the battle in the Florida bar seemed better to me this time around.

    Suitably luxurious bank and hotel in Isthmus City. Bond tries his hand at Blackjack? Why not, it's quite similar to Baccarrat in it's basic principles. Bond the sniper makes another appearance, Dalton seemed keen to put more emphasis on this aspect of the character.

    The villains mansion is spectacular (Villa Arabesque in Acapulco) and his main lair (Otomi Ceremonial Centre in Mexico) is also outstanding, if somewhat under used? Also it was destroyed way too easily, I mean, Bond throws a couple of beakers of petrol about and the whole place goes up? I know it's a Bond movie, but even so, it should take a little bit more than that?

    Great final truck chase, apart from one spell breaking moment of silliness worthy of "Rog Bond", namely the truck wheelie through the fire.

    IMO Robert Davi is one of the better Bond villains and gets plenty of scope to demonstrate the depths of his evil and cruelty, so we don't have to take it on faith, and he meets a suitably gruesome end.

    This time I didn't feel Benicio del Toro was underused after all (considering he was virtually unknown at the time). It had already been demonstrated several times that physically he was no match for Bond in a fair fight, so he went out the right way.

    Anthony Zerbe is always a dependable sleazy villain and Everett McGill always dependable as an unlikeable punk.

    David Hedison does well as the first 2 time Felix Leiter, but finally pays the price for being a friend of James Bond... however Felix the character recovered remarkably well and continues to appear in subsequent editions, something which gives me hope that he will rise again following his most recent setback in NTTD.

    Frank McRae also brings the necessary instant likeability needed in a Bond sidekick who doesn't get a lot of face time, so that the audience can still feel a degree of sadness at his demise.

    Cary Suzuki is charismatic as usual, and sadly under used. IMO he would have made a great reincarnation of Tiger Tanaka, or main villain in his own right in some alternative universe Bond film.

    I never warmed to Carey Lowell, and found Talisa Soto much more appealing. I like Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny. Unfortunately my subconscious remembered Pricilla Barnes from "Threes Company" which was a nagging distraction.

    Edging ahead of TLD on my Dalton ranking dues to having a more convincing ending
  • Licence to Kill (1989);

    As a kid, I absolutely hated Licence to Kill. To me, it was the complete opposite of everything that I came to love about the James Bond films. Bond wasn’t the cool, unflappable hero, but instead dark, vicious, and brooding. The villains weren’t over the top wackos bent on world domination, but evil men who certainly exist in our real world. The film lacked the bombastic feel/Bondian flavor of other entries, but felt more like a Generic American Action film. It was for these reasons that I had such a disdain for this movie growing up. But like many other Bond films, my appreciation for this one only grew as I had gotten older. LTK ended up being one of the very first Bond films that I owned on DVD, and I can remember watching this movie and slowly walking away from each viewing liking it more than previous sessions. But what sparked this change? Why did this Bond film that I hated so much as a child grow to be one of my most watched entries in the series? What makes Licence to Kill so intriguing not just to myself, but to other Bond fans?

    For starters, one of the films biggest positives is Timothy Dalton as Bond. As a kid, Dalton was admittedly amongst my least favorite of the Bond actors, and that isn’t because I thought he was bad. For me, there was much more Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan Bond films to watch, and we got to see how each one of them evolved as their films kept going on. Of coarse I hold the opposite opinion now, and despite Dalton only have 2 films as Bond, he continues to enlighten every single moment that he’s on screen. In LTK, Dalton perhaps gives the most brutal take on the character in the franchise’s history. Bond in this film is cold blooded, brooding, and driven by a desire to claim revenge. His actions actively interfere with other organizations trying to bring down Sanchez’s operation, such as Hong Kong Narcotics, and a US District Attorney’s office. On the other side of that coin, here we see Bond at his most cunning yet. His plot of turning Sanchez against his men leading to their deaths one by one is a very unique element of this film, and allows Bond to inch his way closer to his objective without actually getting his hands dirty. I’ll talk more about this point when I review The Living Daylights, but one of my most appreciated elements about Dalton’s Bond is how he always remains 10 steps ahead of his enemies, and LTK shows this type of cunning behavior at its best.

    Personally, I find myself to be a little bit mixed on the Bond girls for this film. On one hand, you have Carey Lowell playing CIA Agent Pam Bouvier, to which her performance is fairly decent. On the other hand, you have Talisa Soto playing Lupe Lamora, the abused girlfriend of Franz Sanchez. Soto unfortunately can come across as a big wooden at times, but that’s something I’m willing to overlook for this film. What I find interesting is how the film creates a love triangle between Bond and the two women, as this type of dynamic hasn’t been really explored in any of the previous Bond films beforehand, or really any of the films since. My only wish was that perhaps these characters were a bit more memorable. Carey Lowell has several great scenes in the film, but it’s hard to compare Lowell to the great Bond girls of the past and future, and not be a bit disappointed on the whole with how little memorable Lowell is in the film. As for Soto, needless to say I think they definitely could’ve gone with a stronger actress in the part.

    Where the film truly excels is in its villains. Franz Sanchez, and his group of heavies, are perhaps the most terrifying set of rogues the franchise has ever seen before, or since. They’re vicious and vile, and they all do such a great job of making us despise them in every single moment they’re on screen. While villains like Goldfinger, and Blofeld (certain interpretations) are perhaps more memorable, they lack the frightening qualities that the Sanchez Cartel has. Even as a child, the villains of this film absolutely terrified me, especially Dario. I really love the performances that Robert Davi and Benicio Del Toro give in this film, and even Anthony Zerbe is quite memorable in the film as the slimy Milton Krest (he’s certainly gets a memorable death scene that’s for sure.) One element of the character of Franz Sanchez that shouldn’t be overlooked are his views on loyalty. It’s often noted that several of the deaths in this film can be attributed directly to Sanchez killing them for believing they’ve betrayed his trust, which plays perfectly into Bond’s overall plan to bring down these thugs. I think the idea of having the villain killing off his own thugs due to his own paranoia is quite well executed. It should also be noted that Sanchez’s view on Loyality is ultimately a mirror image to that of Bond’s, and in the end, Bond brilliantly uses the villains own code of honor against him.

    If I did have to criticize elements of the film, I think the overly graphic nature of the deaths would be one of those elements. Scenes like Leiter’s maiming (even though it’s lifted from Fleming), the death of Milton Krest, the death of Dario, and several other scenes highlight how jarring the change of tone in the film was. We’ve seen similar deaths in Bond before, but none of them seemed as gratuitous and over the top as in Licence to Kill. It’s especially jarring when you take into account that beforehand, the entire 80’s decade of Bond never seemed to get this dark with his handling of the deaths (aside from the death of Klotkoff, the Russian Agent who gets shredded to death in AVTAK.) I’ll also add that the lack of a bigger budget, and the fact that shooting at Pinewood studios wasn’t an option this time around hurts the film as well. Licence to Kill just lacks the flair and style that other Bond films have had in the past, and in a summer where movies like Batman, and The Last Crusade had audiences flocking to the theaters, these elements hold Licence to Kill back quite a bit. It actually astonishes me that even though all those films came out the same year, Batman and The Last Crusade feel much more modern in their filmmaking techniques than Licence to Kill does.

    On the whole, I really enjoy Licence to Kill. It’s perhaps one of my most rewatched films of the franchise, and I always find more elements to enjoy about it with each viewing. I don’t think it’s Top 10 material for me, but solid Middle Tier Bond. My final rating is 7/10.

    On a final note, I’d like to mention a few things going forward with these reviews. Beginning with this specific review, I began to find it quite difficult to find elements to write about, which has always been an issue with these reviews since I first embarked on this journey earlier this year. The writing for this one in particular took many months, as unfortunately I do work constantly, and in any of the spare time I’ve had, I haven’t found myself particularly enthusiastic about writing these reviews. I still desire to keep these reviews going on, there’s still another 16 Bond films to discuss, and the option of reviewing the 3 unofficial films are certainly on the table as well. Going forward, I’ll try my best to get these reviews written and posted quicker than the length of time it took to work on this specific review, and it’s my goal to have these all finished by the end of the year, if not by February 20th (the anniversary of my QOS review, the 1st one I’ve written up), so stay tuned for the next review! I’ll very excited to discuss my thoughts and opinions on what may be considered one of the best Bond films of the last 20 years, 2012’s Skyfall.
  • DwayneDwayne New York City
    Posts: 2,569
    Thanks for posting this @007ClassicBondFan. I really enjoyed the write-up and look forward to reading your reviews in the future.

    While I generally prefer LTD to LTK (LTD is a more “traditionally structured Bond film, and I’ve always found the violence in LTK a bit off putting), the latter is not without its’ merits. I especially, like your point about Dalton’s Bond always being several steps ahead of the villains.

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