Sunday, October 02, 2016

Licence To Kill

Until 2006’s “reimagining” of the 007 franchise in CASINO ROYALE, LICENCE TO KILL (note the British spelling) was widely considered the most brutal and violent film of the series. The first PG-13 Bond movie offers a change-of-pace plot by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson that finds 007 (Timothy Dalton in his second and final Bond performance) resigning under protest from the British Secret Service and plotting revenge against Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), the South American druglord who fed Bond’s DEA pal Felix Leiter (David Hedison, reprising his role from 1973’s LIVE AND LET DIE) to the sharks. Literally.

Some have referred to LICENCE TO KILL as a "Joel Silver Bond movie," and that's a good description, right down to the trendy choice of villain (Central American drug dealer), supporting cast of familiar American character actors (Don Stroud, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, Benicio Del Toro), and Michael Kamen as composer. It mostly eschews the elaborate gadgetry for which the Bond movies are well known, and although it’s a first-rate action movie, it doesn’t feel much like a James Bond adventure, despite Dalton’s tough, underrated performance.

John Glen, directing his fifth consecutive and final Bond movie, handles the special effects and stunts with aplomb — the tanker truck chase that ends the film is one of the Bond series’ finest action pieces. As mentioned above, LICENCE TO KILL doesn’t feel like a James Bond movie, but it’s one heck of an action/adventure film. While Davi and the actors playing his henchmen are strong, the Bond Girls are weak. Talisa Soto (VAMPIRELLA) is quite wooden in her role of Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe, and Carey Lowell, later a regular on LAW & ORDER, is not believable as a tough-talking CIA agent, though her short hairdo makes her a visual standout among Bond girls.

Robert Brown plays M for the last time. Same for Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny, though Eon and MGM kept Desmond Llewelyn’s Q, who has his most sizable part in LICENCE TO KILL, in subsequent pictures. Speaking of, LICENCE TO KILL was not a box office smash, and various creative, financial, and legal bugaboos prevented the next Bond film from being produced until 1994. Though Dalton’s 007 films were not highly regarded by fans at the time, his portrayal is closer to that of the popular Daniel Craig than any other Bond actor.

No comments: