I’m in the process of watching every Bond movie, from the first to the most recent. I will be giving my thoughts on each film as I go along. Not many people have seen every Bond film, and so I feel that this should be an interesting journey. Let’s get started!
License to Kill is Timothy Dalton’s second and final entry in the Bond series. I write this with great sadness, as I have greatly enjoyed Dalton as Bond. Dalton brought an energized magnetism to the character, a cold danger to the man who, for so long, lacked any kind of screen command.
License to Kill stands out from the get-go because it clearly establishes itself as a non-formulaic Bond movie. The film begins with Felix Leiter’s wedding. Of course, Bond is there too, celebrating and enjoying himself. At the same time, notorious criminal Sanchez escapes from custody via Inception and captures Felix. The rest of the movie follows an alternate course for Bond. Instead of trying to save the world from a grand scheme, Bond goes out to find Sanchez, a pleasant change of pace from the usual Bond.
Dalton is still cold, though I won’t go into much detail about it because I don’t want to spoil his actions. There is genuine shock value in this movie that I wouldn’t want to deprive you of. Oh, and there is notably more blood in this installment than any Bond film prior.
Sanchez, the main villain of the film, is strikingly menacing. He walks around with a Goodfellas-esque confidence and sells it entirely. Strong villains seem to be a growing trend in Bond films as of late. I like it.
I enjoyed watching Benicio del Toro as the goon because it was like watching a young Fenster from Usual Suspects. To say that that is the sole reason why I enjoyed watching him would be misleading. Benicio del Toro was not a clear-cut goon who was sent around to do dirty work. Instead, he seemed to be like a son to Sanchez, a dynamic that gives him depth that is not attributed to many Bond goons.
Q shines in this movie, providing a warm screen presence as well as a delicate dose of humor. I feel that Q has always been a lovable character. His ceaseless scolding of Bond has always been a key component of the Bond films, and an enjoyable one at that. In License to Kill, however, Q is not reduced to a single humorous scene or two. Instead, he is a key character in the plot of this particular story. The fondness and loyalty that Q has for Bond is highlighted throughout the movie. The scene below is a fantastic representation of the spirit he contributes to License to Kill.
Bond’s other MI6 chum, Moneypenny, does not fare as well as Q, unfortunately. I have determined that the new Moneypenny is no good. The new actress just doesn’t fit the mold of the witty yet lovable secretary. I can’t tell if she’s supposed to be brainy or sexy or foolish. This Moneypenny is a bit jumbled, is all.
One thing that did fall flat in this film was the romance. Bond’s womanizing is forced. There is literally no buildup to the romance with either of the women. I don’t feel that this is the fault of Dalton, as he does a fine job on his end at appearing interested in the women he acts opposite to. Instead, I feel that it is the script that puts the romance in the backseat, as there is little opportunity to develop the motivations and the passions. This is surprising, as the Living Daylights featured one of the most natural relationships that Bond has had with a woman.
The film ends with one of the most inventive Bond chase sequences to date, which features massive explosions like I’ve never seen in a movie. The flat explosions from Transformers cannot hold a candle to those in License to Kill. I felt the heat of the fire and the shock waves of the explosions. I kid you not. And seeing a tanker truck drive like that was incredible to witness.
Timothy Dalton had an excellent run as Bond. I would have liked for him to have continued carrying the torch for a few movies more, but perhaps it is for the best that he didn’t work himself dry as did Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Of the four Bonds that have been put to screen as of this film, Dalton is my favorite. He will be missed. The next film in the series will introduce me to Pierce Brosnan, the Bond that I knew when I was growing up.