Licence to Kill (1989)


Dave’s 3-Word Revew:
Purpose driven Bond.

I can’t believe Timothy Dalton was only in two films…he was one of the best Bonds! I guess he was originally going to be in three 007 films, the third being Goldeneye, but so much time passed, I guess, and he went on to other projects and wouldn’t return to the role. Such a shame too, because he was such a shocking but good change in the franchise. Licence, of course, is the British spelling of license, which is why they used that spelling in Licence to Kill. There was actually some debate on which spelling to ultimately use, but that’s the one they settled on. I couldn’t really care less if my Microsoft Word doesn’t think it’s spelled right, because I am more focused on this film – the first in the series (in my opinion) to really have purpose.

So Felix is this American CIA agent that has been in the series time and time again…pretty much every time Bond travels to America, Felix is his go-to guy. Well, Felix gets married as this film begins, and Bond is his best man. But you should know…where there is a wedding in a James Bond film, there must be death. His wife is immediately killed and he is fed to the sharks! That’s what I call pulling-a-Whedon. He doesn’t exactly die, but he’s one or two limbs short, and Bond is pissed. Going completely Rogue, James Bond heads after one of the biggest villains in the series, Franz Sanchez – a very dangerous drug lord.

For the first time, I feel like I know James Bond personally. Before, he was this very professional and cool, smooth…spy that can get through anything to get the job done. The one thing we never really sensed was his emotions…I mean is he human, does he have a life outside of MI6? That question was more or less answered here. Now, Dalton has a ways to go before he can master expressing certain emotions, but you get it because you’re feeling the same thing. If you’re a Bond fan, what happens to Felix is an outrage. So Bond goes on a personal mission of revenge and justice, something that surprisingly fits Bond like a glove.

The shots in this film aren’t really over-the-top memorable, or are the scenes, but the story is one of the best I’ve ever seen in the entire franchise…it’s really hard to ignore. The spy-gear that Q eventually gets to Bond may seem similar to something Bond was given in Skyfall, a signature gun that only works for Bond because his hands were scanned for it exclusively. Same thing in Skyfall, I thought that was really nice, but the rest of the gear is not as noticeably iconic. So when it comes to memorable things, this isn’t the best Bond flick, but in general…you can’t miss it.

Another thing I wanted to point out for the Timothy Dalton era. He kind of redefined “Bond girl”. No longer does a Bond girl have to be an easy bimbo robot, and no more is Bond this womanizing pig that can confusingly get any woman he ever wanted. Dalton’s Bond has more on his mind than sleeping with any girl with two legs. Heck, he barely even sleeps with anyone in this era. Dalton taught us that meaningless sex doesn’t define a “Bond girl”, but instead…importance defines them. If they have something important to seriously contribute to the story, they are a Bond girl. That’s a smarter and more respectful way to go about it, and I love it. I love it because I can actually appreciate and care about the girl and her background, and what she’s ultimately trying to do.

Ladies and gentlemen, Licence to Kill introduced us to a Bond that cares, and will go rogue as an agent for something he believes in. This humanized him in a way that I’m sure redefined the series. However, Goldeneye wasn’t released for another six years, the longest wait time between Bonds…let’s hope it’s every good as I wish it is.

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