Ranking the Bond Movies: #12 – Licence to Kill (1989)
It took Timothy Dalton two tries to get it right, but that’s okay. I actually don’t feel bad admitting he’s my least favorite Bond. Mostly because I don’t like the way they handled the character during his two films. But this time, unlike with The Living Daylights, they got it right. To the point where it makes me wonder what would have happened if legal problems didn’t derail the franchise for six years after this (though they kind of needed to happen, since the franchise needed that period to catch up to the times).
Anyway — I really like Licence to Kill. The first time I watched these films, I came out of them really liking this, and thinking, “Well, it’s Timothy Dalton, so I bet most people just consider his two films as “whatever.” Just two forgettable entries between the three more prominent Bonds (and everyone just forgets Lazenby entirely). But when I watched it, I went, “Wow, this is actually really good. And then two years passed, and all I really remembered about it was that I enjoyed the film and that it had that awesome Sorcerer ending to it. I thought that maybe I was overrating the rest of the film purely because of the end sequence. But actually — the rest of the film holds up.
I like how grounded the film is. This film might be one of the closest films to the Daniel Craig era than any of the post-1970 films. The gadgets are pretty realistic, the story is definitely realistic, and for the most part, it’s grounded in an emotional story rather than action scenes. And I really liked that about it.
There are a lot of things I like about this movie, but I’ll save them for the article itself. Just know that while a lot of people might think to overlook this film, it’s actually one of the better Bond movies of all time. It’s kind of a shame I couldn’t put this as a top ten, but on the bright side, it’s actually a really solid #12. It’s better than all of the films that came before it on this list, and, while I can’t say it’s better than the next 11, it does have a very comfortable place just outside the top ten, and, to me, that’s all right.
The cold open begins as a plane is being tracked outside the Bahamas. A drug shipment.
They radio in to Key West. And who’s in Key West?
Bond and Felix Leiter. One of them is getting married. (Take a wild guess which.)
But they got some shit to do first.
Franz Sanchez, a major drug lord, is right there for the taking. Felix is going. Fuck the wedding.
Bond is coming with him.
That’s Sharkey. We’ll meet him and his ironic name later.
This is part of the reason many of those who disliked this movie called it a Miami Vice ripoff. You hear it now and again because of the tropical climate and snappily dressed Hispanics. They’re not wrong.
Meanwhile – meet Franz Sanchez.
And Lupa Lamora, his girlfriend.
This is a very Telenovela moment. He asks, “What did he promise you? His heart? Give him his heart.”
Also, that’s Dario, Sanchez’s primary henchman. (What up, Benicio?)
Apparently she’s been trying to get away from him for a while. So he beats her. (I like that he won’t kill her. It automatically makes him complex.)
Meanwhile, Sharkey has to explain to Felix’s fiancée, Della, that they’re not there yet.
Oh, it’s fucking go time.
Felix makes Bond wait at the helicopter.
So he can do this, apparently. (What the fuck?)
Yeah – if guys were running at me in slow motion like that, I’d give up too.
Oh look – they shot at Bond first. Someone knows what they’re doing.
Possibly for the first time in franchise history! Way to go, guys!
Shooting from the copter. I like it.
Of course he couldn’t stay out of it.
There are always barrels when you need them.
HE’S RIGHT THERE! SHOOT HIM!
They ran into the woods – let’s get ‘em!
I guess he selectively chooses what aspects of the mission he wants to be involved with.
Oh, that plane in the foreground is a Beechcraft 18, just like the one flown by Khan in Octopussy, only more dilapidated and with a different color scheme. Hard to believe that was only six years before this, sort of like how Casino Royale was only six years after Die Another Day. What a difference they make.
(Mike Note: Octopussy was six years after The Spy Who Loved Me. That works both ways.)
And there goes Sanchez.
Get to the choppa.
I love how Bond automatically goes for the most dangerous option possible.
Why not bring a drug dealer to your wedding?
I bet the caterer’s gonna be pissed because they only said they’d need 176 plates instead of 175.
Way to make an entrance.
I love a good lens flare.
The franchise has had a lot of crazy aerial sequences, and that was a good one. Made better that they just walk into the wedding afterwards like it was Tuesday. Good thing Sanchez was flying in the general direction of the church when they caught up to him.
This leads us into our credit sequence, set to “Licence to Kill” by Gladys Knight.
WHY MUST ALL THE GREAT SHOTS IN THIS CREDIT SEQUENCE HAVE CREDITS OVER THEM?
We open on Sanchez being arrested… in a really terrific way.
Sanchez offers $2 million to whoever springs him.
Bond makes innocent flirty flirty with the bride and goes to get Felix.
She’s way too young for Felix. The actor who played him — David Hedison — is the same guy who was in Live and Let Die, making him the first actor to play Felix twice. He was also the same age as Roger Moore, making him 62 in this movie. So yeah, the actress playing his bride being barely 30, that’s normal.
(Mike Note: Seriously? That dude seemed 50 at the oldest. I didn’t notice that at all. Plus — it’s Bond. Where else would a dude sleeping with a woman half his age not seem weird? That’s standard operating procedure.)
Felix is meeting with Pam Bouvier. She’ll be important later.
Now I see Dalton being Bond.
It turns into a sausage fest. We find out they’re taking Sanchez to Quantico. By the way, that’s Ed Killifer, the asshole who’s gonna spring Sanchez in a minute. He was really tough on him in the interrogation, I guess as stupid misdirection.
Or classic misdirection.
Aww, it’s so happy that you just know they’re gonna be dead soon.
Aww… they got Bond a gift. I wonder if he’s gonna cry when they’re dead.
Sanchez is transported. Take a fucking guess as to what happens.
I always think of Harvey Dent being transported in The Dark Knight. Armored convoys transporting a high priority suspect are always great for building tension.
(Mike Note: They never go as planned, do they? Ever. Think of any situation where a high profile prisoner was moved — has it ever gone well?)
“We have to go deeper.”
And then it turns into a submarine.
Or it just hits the bottom. (Actually how cool would it be if Bond had a car that could just drive on the ocean floor?)
Yes! This is so old school Bond.
What happened to Shark Hunter I?
Aww… everyone’s so happy. You think they can pile it on thicker?
That works too.
“No.” Just – “no.”
Oh, wait. I thought it was because he was like, “Fuck no, I ain’t getting married,” but actually it brought back memories of Tracy. So, that’s… actually better.
All yours. You’d think that being such close friends, she’d have known that he had been married and was a widower, but this is better plot-wise.
Oh, we’re so happy.
Oh… you’re so dead.
Don’t worry, it’s just a bachelor party thing.
Sanchez then pays Killifer for springing him. $2 million, all in twenties. Impossible to trace. Automatically, he’s a smart villain. Realistic too.
Right… bachelor party.
Can you really not get out of those knots?
Let’s talk about Dario now. We’ll talk about Sanchez a little later.
A-ha! Oh, wait, wrong movie. It’s Benicio Del Toro, the Puerto Rican Brad Pitt, and he’s got all his fingers in this movie. Dario is one of Sanchez’s henchmen who got kicked out of the Contras for — ready? — being too ruthless. When we meet him, he’s cutting a guy’s heart out of his chest with a switchblade. To his credit, he’s the only one who’s really up on Bond’s activities and seems to have better instincts than his boss. He meets with crushing defeat, which is too bad because I really like this character.
(Mike Note: To me, that actually says positive things about both Sanchez and Dario. To me, it says that Sanchez is so on top of his shit that he actually can start trusting people because he knows his right hand guy will be there to make sure shit’s okay. It’s acceptable complacency.)
So Sanchez feeds Felix to the shark. Felix is very melodramatic, shouting, “See you in hell!” and Sanchez is wonderfully cool about the whole thing. He’s like, “Chill out. There are worse things than death.” And then when it’s mostly over –
“Wrap it up. This bores me.” That’s a villain. Big fan of this guy.
And just as Bond is about to get the fuck out of there…
Notice that he’s about to fly Pan Am. We saw Pan Am featured in Dr. No and From Russia With Love as a symbol of the jet age, and again in Live and Let Die. Miami was a Pan Am hub, so it makes sense to see them here, but this would be the last Pan Am appearance in a Bond film before the company went bankrupt and ceased operations in 1991.
He finds out Sanchez escaped.
He goes to Felix’s house…
What’s with the wooden handle?
“I think I wanna fuck her again.”
Favorite thing about this shot: Felix is a fan of the same two teams I am. Except I still have both of my legs.
It’s a Sicilian message. It means Felix Leiter had a one night stand with the fishes.
But Felix is alive.
Sharkey knows a shark bite when he sees one.
Lotta black people in this one. I approve. Only took you twenty-five years.
Anyway, Bond is pissed and wants to go after Sanchez, even though he’s missing and is clearly in a country that doesn’t extradite.
Let’s talk about Bond’s car, since that’s the one he’s been driving from before.
Oh, yeah, this isn’t really worth talking about. In fact, my car duties are pretty light in this film because there are no good cars other than two Rolls Royces. And Rolls Royces in a Bond film are like hot cocktail waitresses — still attractive, and you look, but not what you really want to be caring about. This is supposedly Bond’s rental car, a 1987 Lincoln Mark VII. While luxurious, it wasn’t particularly sporty and wasn’t really used much in this movie, so I’ll just stop right here.
So they go to the warehouse, where the sharks are. I like how this lead is simple and makes sense.
That’s Milton Krest, one of Sanchez’s henchmen.
You think this is the right place?
What does that mean? We go back at night, of course.
Normally I’d be like, “How the fuck would you know the drugs were in there?” but actually this makes perfect sense.
Oh no! Fish in the eyes! Just like Hannibal used in the second Punic War!
Oh, that isn’t fish. That thing is a maggot incubator. Just like Hamilcar used in the first Punic War.
Well, at least you can die high.
Just like Malcolm X.
“Hey you guys, what’s going on?”
Well ain’t that a bitch.
Killifer offers to split the $2 million with Bond.
The other cop – I don’t think they’ve even given his name yet. He’s just the good black guy that’s not Sharkey. Hawkins. His name is Hawkins. I almost called him Special Agent Johnson, since him and Robert Davi (Sanchez) were both Agent Johnsons in Die Hard – so Hawkins tells Bond that the DEA wants to know what happened at the warehouse. Bond’s not supposed to be on the case. He tells him to back off, or else he’ll have to answer for shit. Bond says someone has to get shit done.
Bond is then taken to the Hemingway House, where –
Bond is supposed to be in Istanbul.
Bond doesn’t want to be in Istanbul. He’d rather hand in his papers first.
Two weeks, with pay. And his licence to kill is revoked.
World needs plenty o’ bahtendahs.
I can’t tell who’s being dumber here – Bond or M. Bond should be in Istanbul and the vengeance thing is clearly clouding his judgment, but on the other hand, what the fuck could be so important in Istanbul? His fucking friend just got half eaten by a shark, and they have an opportunity to catch a major fucking fugitive who isn’t very hard to find. Why not just give Bond a week to do it and then he can go to Istanbul? Actually, no matter how much I think about it – it’s Bond who’s being the asshole. I just naturally want to side with Bond because this isn’t Bernard Lee and I want to see Bond fuck up Sanchez (since I know that Sorcerer ending is coming). But yeah – Bond’s totally in the wrong here. This is exactly the type of shit they were talking about in Quantum.
Bond has to turn over his weapon.
Or you can just break out. (Dude, can’t you just get a gun somewhere else? Is that the only one that has the official “licence to kill” sticker on the side or something?)
He’s in America. You never know when you’ll find another gun in America. He might have to walk half a BLOCK before coming across one.
“Don’t shoot.” Why? “Too many people.” Not, “He’s my best agent,” or, “He’s not gonna kill innocent people.” No – you can kill him, just – not in public. Judi wouldn’t have let that happen.
Don’t pretend like you feel bad. You fucking did this
Meanwhile… at sea…
Like a drunken uncle staggering into a child’s room – this won’t end well.
Let’s talk about Lupe now, before the first two letters of her name get changed.
There’s really nothing about this chick in any Bond literature. She’s just kind of…there. I do prefer her to Pam, even though she’s playing second fiddle. As Sanchez’s mistress, Lupe has the rare pleasures of being beat the fuck up and leered at by this creepy bastard we see below. She takes a liking to Bond, which gets fun later on as Pam starts liking him a bit herself. She’s probably one of the best people to know after this movie ends, and you’ll find out why at the very end.
Let’s talk about this drunk fuck too.
Krest is a creepy bastard, as I mentioned previously. He’s played by Anthony Zerbe, who you might remember as one of the leaders of Zion in the second and third Matrix movies. Krest (whose first name is Milton, one of the least menacing names ever) is one of Sanchez’s lieutenants. He runs Wavekrest Marine Research, which is the operation’s legitimate front for drug smuggling, and a pretense for owning sharks. He’s a scummy dude who has a ridiculous death — and I’m betting you’ll agree with me there. No pressure.
This scene doesn’t really amount to much. He does sort of threaten her with a remote. Somehow this could only happen in the 80s.
The old manta ray disguise. (Just like how the Celtics won the championship in ’65.)
Deep Blue Seaman?
Connery wouldn’t do that.
Of course she sleeps in the nude. Because what can go wrong on a boat full of sailors?
The side boob really takes away from the intended focal point of this shot.
Was that not the poin… oh, I see what you’re talking about. Nice watch.
Uh oh. They got Sharkey. This is like Morgan Freeman in Unforgiven.
That’s pretty cool. Just walks out and shoots the guy in the fucking chest.
And dive off.
Drugs changing hands.
Bye bye drugs.
Underwater chase! (Sort of.)
Okay, now underwater chase.
Oh, this brings back some fond Thunderball memories.
I like that Sanchez hires people who can do shit. Right to the fucking air supply. These are smart henchmen. That’s bonus points for Sanchez as a villain. How many villains have henchmen who can’t do anything?
It’s like a fucking zombie movie.
I shouldn’t like this moment as much as I do, but I fucking love this moment.
Fuck, how great would it be to be hanging from that plane right now? Because you know if you fall, you can just straighten out and shoot straight down into the water again.
Never let go.
YOU’RE SHOOTING AT MONEY!
He’s beating a man with money. I repeat – he’s beating a man. With money.
You just fucked up the entire ocean economy, man. A sudden influx of money is gonna wreak havoc down there. Sperm whales buying gold teeth and shit. Dolphins be getting twenty inch fins. Do you know how much money the barracuda will be losing at dice games?
As an econ major, I both love and resent this joke.
I love how he gets control of the plane, then throws the guy out.
What the fuck kind of monopoly money is that?
Would they really police tape an entire house like that? (This is how I imagine the aftermath of horror movies looks.)
So you tape up the fence and the windows? Like some trespasser’s gonna ignore the first and then be like, “Oh, I guess I shouldn’t go and break in this place too.”
Oh yeah, Bond saw Felix put that there earlier. (Really hoping it’s a Milli Vanilli album.)
Oh, shit, they got Snow Leopard?
You think it was dysentery or snake bite?
One person’s still alive. (Why couldn’t it be Jeffrey Giggins?)
So these CDs are updated every time an informant has another meeting, are they? Does he really have to reboot the fucking thing every time he forgets when he’s meeting his contacts? Shouldn’t he have a day planner or something?
That’s cool. A bar you can pull up to in boat. (What do you think the valet situation is like?)
Just like West Egg.
Let’s break this image down by its parts, because it fascinates me. First, we have Evander Holyfield in the foreground, and Flashdance behind him. Then Handlebar in the back. Handlebar is wearing powder blue shoes. It takes a special person to pull that off. Unfortunately, he seems more like the old guy that sits at the meet store looking at a racing form all day type. Behind him – some sort of gay, S&M Indian. Whips with Beaver Pelt. Then – the bartender. Look at that shirt, look at his hair. He looks like he just got kicked out of the Fabulous Freebirds. Now, the thing in the shot that I’m most interested in – what is that dude whispering to that white woman? Honestly, you can stop the movie right now and just show me that conversation and I wouldn’t care at all. This image – that conversation most of all – fascinates me.
Anyway – here we meet Pam Bouvier. Our Bond girl. Who apparently doesn’t like sleeves.
Let’s talk about her.
Ah, Pam. Everyone should be nicer to her. I’m not a huge fan of this Bond girl, even though I probably should be. She’s not prickly and she serves purposes in this movie, which is great. All the same, I find myself trying too hard to really care about her. Maybe it’s just because Dalton doesn’t have chemistry with her.
Pam Bouvier is a pilot who works undercover as a CIA informer while doing work for Sanchez. She’s good, but she’s not Bond good. She takes a bullet (nothing serious, don’t worry) and dishes one out, too. She also gets to be extremely jealous of Lupe for winning a bit of Bond’s attention and going off to cry like a seventh grader. So that’s good.
On a side note, the actress Carey Lowell has the honor of being the last ever Bond girl to have been born before the franchise began, which is some pretty heady stuff. Quantum of Solace‘s Gemma Arterton wasn’t even born until after A View to a Kill, which really demonstrates how old this franchise is now.
(Mike Note: Or how we all have a chance, age-wise, with Gemma Arterton.)
Look at this shot.
“Are you carrying?”
I bet this one ain’t loaded with fucking rock salt. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Stacey Sutton. Do something.)
So Benicio and apparently Michael Shannon sit down at the table.
I don’t think you should be smiling about that.
Pop quiz: Who is the most dangerous person at this table right now?
Well, it’s not him.
All guns seem to shoot sparks in this movie. (Pretty sure the only movie that could feasibly pull that off and I wouldn’t say anything is Moonraker. That movie is allowed to have sparkle.)
Interesting way to get a knife out.
Interesting way to get clocked across the fucking face.
Oh, Handlebar… you’re going to ruin those shoes.
I want to meet the person who can pull off that suit today.
We need more barfights in movies. I miss those.
Holy shit, that’s the greatest idea ever. One million points for that guy.
He’s not even a henchman, he just wants to stab somebody with a fucking Marlin.
Bond should not be looking like Macaulay Culkin on the fucking Home Alone poster.
WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT??!!
These might be my favorite two screenshots in the article.
I don’t think he might retire to here.
Look at his face.
Oh yeah, Benicio. That’s how you plug a bitch.
How do you miss?
BUT YOU HIT HIM??!!
“My mama said these were my magic shoes.”
She had on Kevlar. Because apparently she kept getting hit hard on draw plays.
Bond is pissed for some reason. She could have been killed. (Why the fuck do you care? Aren’t you the same guy who fucks women and gets them to give up information for you, which gets them killed?)
She yells right back. Either because she’s a badass or an annoying cunt. I’ll get back to you about which it is.
They’re out of gas. (Nice sunrise, by the way.)
Bond needs her to tell him about Sanchez’s operation. And he needs her to fly him (she’s a pilot) to his place in Isthmus City.
He actually bargains money with her. One of the downsides to the Timothy Dalton Bond. You never saw any other Bond haggling over money. I get that he has to do this shit because he’s rogue, but you’re James Bond – your currency is always the magic dick.
Moneypenny’s off her game because of Bond. He’s missing.
“Damn it, woman, we both know where the fuck he’s going. It’s not like he’s going to fuck you anyway.”
“… yeah, well, you didn’t have to come right out and say it like that. … hurts my feelings.”
But she’s so worried, she calls in help.
That’s the weird thing about this Moneypenny. I totally would sleep with her, while Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny was a military woman you could flirt with but wouldn’t actually sleep with.
(Mike Note: Well… maybe in the 60s. On a bender.)
Why the fuck do you have so much luggage?
Bond introduces Pam as his “executive secretary.” (Not too many women narrow their eyes at Bond. I like it.)
He’s tipping them with drug money.
Pam wants to know why he couldn’t be her executive secretary. (Oh… she’s a feminist. That’s not fun.)
Pam doesn’t want the money. She wants to stay. She’s not safe until Sanchez is dead. Plus, she says, he can use her “help.”
Again, nothing really to say. This is a 1978 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II that pretty much just demonstrates that this movie doesn’t give a shit about cars. Let’s just get chauffeured.
Awesome cars aren’t a prerequisite for a great Bond movie – From Russia With Love didn’t even have one — but it really helps when everything else isn’t perfect.
(Mike Note: Damn… this worked every other time. Usually I can just stop and say, “Look, a car,” and there’s something to say about it. Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.)
I’ll ignore them stealing the line from Scarface that they do in this scene. The Japanese don’t know movies.
And there’s Pam, coming in as Bond’s personal secretary. (P.S. Same name. How does no one ever know who he is?)
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate everything in this shot.
And this one.
This is Professor Joe Butcher, and he’s played by Wayne Newton. Let’s talk about him now.
Wayne Newton always wanted to be in a Bond movie, and here he’s the phony televangelist (is there any other kind?) who uses his TV programs to send coded messages about drug sales. I like that he tries to get with Pam and how sleazy he is. That’s pretty nice.
(P.S. I also like how he’s sleazy and kind of a decent dude. How she pulls a gun on him and he’s like, “Oh, bless your heart.” And then she takes a shitload of money from him, and he says the same thing. Either that’s his way of saying, “Fuck you, you whore,” or is generally like, “Good for you, accomplishing your goals.” I feel like it’s the latter. Either that or Newton mandated that they don’t make him a complete prick. Whichever it is, I enjoy that he just sort of leaves the really illegal shit to everyone else. He’s just a dude starting a phony religion/movement for money and sex. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. (Ain’t that right, Christianity?))
He has an iguana that’s wearing jewelry. Game, set, match.
What Sanchez does is use Newton’s phony guru as a front to tell his pushers what the prices are going to be. It’s a really nice scheme. (Imagine if they cast Jerry Lewis instead.)
Meanwhile, Bond drops 250k on purpose so he can play no limit and get Sanchez’s attention.
And look what happens.
Now he’s up 250k.
These fucking iguanas, right?
And look who the new dealer is.
Bitch, go get me a drink.
Shaken, not stirred. (Why the fuck was he so angry about it? Also, doesn’t he look like he’s gonna cry again here too?)
I don’t think he’s ever actually going to cry, I think Dalton just has a face that’s always trying to be melodramatic. He’s a Shakespearean actor, for shit’s sake.
(Mike Note: Yeah, but now that I went off about it, it’s a thing. So I have to play it up. To weep or not to weep.)
They both looking.
Who the fuck taught you to order a drink?
Where the fuck did those women get those dresses? The curtain at Cirque do Soleil?
I agree with him. I’d much rather fuck her than Pam.
Bond wants to know where Sanchez is. Apparently he’s “planning a big party for some Orientals tomorrow night.”
I forgot how much fun the word Orientals is. Almost as good as Chinaman. (Because seriously – how much fun is the word Chinaman? You can use it any time. How interesting would it be if, in a Bond villain, when they saw Bond was getting too close to their operation, just said, “Bring in the Chinaman,” and then we cut away, wondering who the Chinaman is and when he’s going to strike? And then Oriental – it’s just so dated. I love it. It’s a borderline slur that’s also not because it’s technically a correct term.)
It comes from the old nautical navigation methods of “orienting” oneself by finding due East. This is why I always laugh at the word “orientation” because that’s what happens to Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice.
A ha ha. Ten to one she hate fucks a stranger tonight.
Goddamn. One gulp. A few more of those this bitch will be done for the freaky shit before 10 o’clock.
Speaking of freaky shit – is the line for the restroom always like this?
Oh. I get it. The iguana’s got security. That makes sense.
Nice place to shoot the fuck from.
Sing it, Shirley.
How do you miss a handshake that badly?
(P.S. That was Bond. James Bond.)
Bond pretends to be a hitman, who is “temporarily unemployed.”
Sanchez admires his “cojones” (that means balls), but doesn’t really see the need to hire him. Plus he wants to check him out first.
Meanwhile, Bond goes back to fuck the only one he has left.
The last time I saw creepy Asian people like this, Bette Davis got shanked.
It’s Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa! Yeah! He was Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat and the Baron in Memoirs of a Geisha.
(Mike Note: Guarantee everyone else just went, “Ohh…”, and are feigning interest, because they all saw him and went, “Oh, he’s just a random Asian dude I may have seen before but would never remember because they all look alike. Don’t pretend. I know.)
Turns out, Bond’s “uncle” has arrived.
You could have gotten the gun without that.
I like how he’s always making her wait places.
Time to meet Uncle.
Moneypenny called him in. He’s the help.
I love how Q has always just been 80.
I was gonna mention this myself. He’s already pretty old in From Russia With Love and then from the 70s through the early 90s, he’s the same age. Only really got crickety old for his last two movies.
He also says, “If it hadn’t been for Q branch, you’d have been dead long ago.” Which is really fucking true. Think of how many times Bond survives an impossible situation because of something Q gave him.
I’m hoping they don’t mess up Q in Skyfall.
Explosive alarm clock.
Plastic explosive toothpaste.
Sure, just barge in like that. See where that gets you.
He looks shocked that Bond would be fucking a woman.
He introduces Q to her as his uncle and her as his cousin, and Q says, “Ah, we must be related.”
Q wins at everything.
Especially at slot machines.
(Mike Note: There’s a ‘slut machine’ joke in here somewhere. Probably in Bond’s pants.)
I love how, every time he says, “Now, pay attention, 007…”, it sounds exactly the same.
He’s got a camera that shoots .22s.
That only fires when Bond uses it. Nice.
He’s got that too.
Ha ha. Q’s sharing the room with him.
He finally gets out in the field, and this is what he’s reduced to.
Part of me likes that Q drives the Rolls, because it’s stereotypically old British man. At the same time, you have to remember that Q is always on that cutting-edge stuff, outfitting Bond with the latest in sexy sports cars with wild styling. You see in some of the movies that it’s not just his job; he actually likes that stuff at home, too. Remember his retirement boat?
Bond tells her to get the fuck out, and pays her. (This is basically prostitution, no?)
Sneaky sneaky time.
This is a nice shot:
Bond and Q pull away…
And all we see is that car pull away too.
Bond sends Q away as well.
“What? No! Don’t make me go back to Moneypenny. She does nothing but watch An Officer and a Gentleman all day and cry.”
“You’re a hell of a field operative.”
At least he shows him some proper appreciation.
They got the Orientals some white women.
So many camera jokes, so little time.
“Bitch, what the fuck are you doing?”
Of course it sparkles.
Henchman out of nowhere!
It’s The Oriental!
Oh shit, it’s a tag team! The Oriental Express!
Of course he gets knocked the fuck out. (Foreign object.)
No, but you can see her as May 1988′s Playmate of the Month. Google is a lovely thing, go take a look.
(Mike Note: At her tits, not Google. Try not to get web everywhere.)
White man’s from MI6. Orders to take Bond back.
Orientals are Hong Kong narcotics.
The army’s got something to say about that.
“Don’t let them take you alive.”
Guys, get the fuck out of there right now. You don’t fuck with a crazy Oriental bitch.
She’s shooting with her eyes closed!
(Mike Note: Her eyes are closed?)
Her daughter went the same way.
I should have started counting how many times Bond is knocked unconscious in this franchise.
“Oh no, not the bees!”
And I just lost my shit. What the FUCK is that thing?
(Mike Note: I’m pretty sure it’s Harvey Fierstein as a fish.)
“Where the fuck am I? Oz?”
“I think the Lollipop Guild lives around here somewhere.”
You’re making a very appealing case for dealing drugs, Licence to Kill.
Bond says he used to work for the British government.
And there, we see Sanchez trusts him. Finally, for once, Bond being Bond actually pays off. Maybe that’s why I like this movie so much. They find out who he is quickly enough, but here, he’s actually not working for them at the moment, so his “cover” is legitimate.
Bond feeds Sanchez false information to make it seem like Krest was the one that tried to kill him, and Sanchez goes off to meetings, telling Bond to stay at his place. I love how he gets to stay at these places. It’s great.
Oh, now that’s fucking cool. Roger Moore could’ve used one of those.
Bond thinks Pam is working for them.
Pam says Sanchez bought some missiles from the Contras and is gonna use them. The DEA offered his right hand man a deal, which he was about to accept until Bond almost killed Sanchez. “There’s more to this than just your personal vendetta,” she says.
That’s the look of a man who’s gonna forget all about what just happened in about ten minutes.
He’s so dejected.
But Bond’s come around.
And that’s our Q to end the scene.
(Mike Note: The Moneypenny shot?)
Krest is there.
And so is Bond. And Q’s the captain.
Technically, he’s a major.
I actually kind of like the Spanish accent she puts on.
I like how he gets the melodramatic Spanish guitar riff every time he shows up.
She has detailed notes about how to do shit.
Glad to know they helped.
I’d get distracted too.
“How you expect me to concentrate? Throwin’ them titties in my face like that…”
Oh, he’s so dead.
Okay, I don’t really dislike her. She slipped out of those clothes and into my good graces.
(Mike Note: Great title for a song, or a subtitle to the article: “She Slipped out of Those Clothes and into My Heart.” Or Pants.)
Krest explains Bond’s actions from earlier (not knowing it’s Bond), and, having been established as a drunk (and possibly untrustworthy, via Bond’s false information), it seems like he’s clearly full of shit.
I don’t know why she’s wearing only that, but I’m not complaining.
Bond set him up.
For the record – Bond steals almost $5 million from Sanchez. He uses some of it to get suits and a hotel and shit. Which is fine. He deposits the rest in Sanchez’s bank. He plays with it at the casino and wins about $100,000, let’s say. Then he basically gives the money back, and sets up a henchman in the process, thereby making Sanchez trust him more. That’s pretty great.
And that’s the end of Krest.
Remember when I said Krest had a ridiculous ending? “No pressure”? ZING. Sanchez cranks up the pressure and allows Krest to acclimate before cutting it to zero. This doesn’t work like this in real life. And I’m pretty sure that’s raspberry jelly on the porthole. Just how Pam likes it.
(Mike Note: Then again, “Raspberry Jelly on the Porthole” is a pretty good subtitle too.)
Sorry, Q. Pam. That joke was inappropriate.
And now he’s making them leave again. Time to go hop back on the BiPolar Express.
“So, baby, you wanna go get a drink or something?”
And then Sanchez just walks into Bond’s room when he’s sleeping and gives him money.
I always imagined the Tooth Fairy looking more like Dwayne Johnson.
(Mike Note: Or that fish.)
Bond then hints that it may have been more than one person, since, “No one would be stupid enough to try to take you on on their own.” (Get it?)
Ah shit, it’s that creepy thing again. It’s gonna haunt my dreams.
She want the dick.
I’m sure this’ll end well.
She ain’t wearing white no more.
She says that Bond is in danger. Pam says Bond is out of the country. Lupe’s like, “No he’s not. I just fucked him last night.”
Crazy eyes. Never let a white bitch get the crazy eyes.
Reaction shots are the key to comedy.
I like how Q keeps getting reasons to stay, and how he’s so excited about them. I’m so happy that he gets to be a field agent in this movie. This might be Q’s finest moment.
I still probably wouldn’t say that, although it’s the most Q we get in a movie other than Octopussy. I’ll have to go through and think about my favorite Q sequences and lines. GoldenEye is actually way up on that list.
“I love James, so much.”
What are you doing, Lupe? She’s gonna cut out your ovaries and feed them to you.
Caviar is a very Bond movie type of food.
“Calm down. He fucks everyone.”
Nice camera placement.
Q as a Mexican!
Ok, no, this may well be Q’s finest appearance.
I love Q.
And then he just fucking tosses it. All that money and time on R&D and, “Oh, well, we got our use out of it.”
I thought this was a bit out of character, actually. His thing is always about returning equipment in “pristine order” after field use. And we can assume he’s gonna go change out of that Mexican get-up, so he’d have a chance to bring it back. I was confused here.
They’re going to check the warehouse. The front for which is Professor Butcher’s fake movement thing. That’s pretty cool.
The way they make their drugs is by dissolving them in gasoline.
Benicio recognizes Bond.
Meanwhile, Pam goes to meet Professor Butcher. She pretends to be some small town innocent to get close to him. He, naturally, wants to “show her around.”
He got his room “soundproofed.”
Bet you’re reconsidering that one, huh?
I like this method of death. I actually thought for a second while watching this, “man, he’s fucked.”
Could this be the end for James Bond? No, just for Dalton. Who knew, it wasn’t the drug pulverizer that got him, it was a legal battle.
Deux ex Pam.
Bye bye, Benicio.
Oh, you tried to fuck him over.
Sorcerer ending. (Which technically makes it a Wages of Fear ending.)
Holy shit! I just had two realizations. First, these trucks are the same trucks as the one from Smokey and the Bandit, and second, Sanchez has a sweet car. That’s a 1987 Maserati Biturbo 425i. I’d take one of those in a heartbeat. Nice taste, sir.
Random dirt pile!
Imagine how much better this would have been with Burt Reynolds driving.
That’s the henchman who only cares about money.
About time. Yuppie prick.
I was actually on his side. You know, cause I’m a yuppie prick.
Burning rubber, indeed.
Amazing how well these things react to bullets.
You know, it’s funny you say that because even during the Connery years, a lot of things reacted well to bullets. Remember the boat chase in From Russia With Love? Those fuel drums get hit with machine gun fire and nothing happens. I’ve grown up with the laws of video games which is that no matter what’s in a barrel, it will explode when you shoot it. Unless it’s Donkey Kong and a monkey’s in it, in which case, sorry Diddy.
Sure, let’s cruise control down a mountain so you can climb out of the fucking windshield. I don’t see anything that can go wrong there.
Oh, don’t worry. You’re almost there.
HOW CAN YOU MISS HIM??!!
Oh, you sly devil, you.
Is it really that easy to just let the gas out? Could some asshole blow up an entire truck stop by opening the valve on a tanker while the driver’s taking a dump? You don’t need a key or something like that?
I’m not the only one who was hoping, right?
Ju-st a bit outside.
Those were the breaks.
(Kurtis Blow Note: I could have told you that.)
Ju-st a bit inside.
(Mike Note: Inside or not, the people who got that can come to my birthday party.)
You gotta be fucking kidding me.
Of course it doesn’t explode. No, that would make sense.
If I ever had problems with Sanchez, they were all gone the second I saw him get ready to chop Bond with a machete.
“You could have had everything.”
“Don’t you want to know why?”
And that’s the end of Sanchez.
She know she getting the dick.
Still would’ve taken Lupe.
Oh look… Nordberg’s alive.
Did you notice how happy he is in this scene? It felt wrong, considering he’s missing a leg and was hardly alive not long ago. I guess one long distance call has made him forget all about the fact that his brand new bride who was hot and young enough to be his daughter was brutally raped and then murdered just days before. So he was horrifically and permanently maimed and the love of his life was tortured and killed. Collect call from James Bond? Yes, I’ll accept the charges!
Told you I’d have taken her.
“Anyway Felix, good to talk to you. But I’ve gotta run. Oh. Sorry. What I meant to say was, there’s this chick, you should see her, she’d remind you of– oh. Yeah, I’ll talk to you later.”
Why would you leave an iguana unattended to like that? Do you WANT to run out of liquor?
I want to say that I’m just dying at the thought of an iguana getting shitfaced.
There you go. Let her fuck Q. Q could use a main bitch.
Go get a booth and take her for a royd.
I don’t know who’s more upset, Pam or Q.
Q’s gonna get back to the lab to get started on a vibrator for Pam. Or her own Aston Martin with an erector seat.
(Mike Note: Or some virtual reality glasses?)
(I’m that guy that deliberately reminds you of shit you don’t want to remember.)
“You could stay here with me.”
STAY THERE WITH HER, MOTHERFUCKER!
Only in the 80s.
You left her to the president of the country? You idiot.
She’s cool with it. And this is why I said she’d be a good person to know at the end of the film. She’ll marry him, and she’ll probably have at least six weeks of being First Lady before the next military coup unseats him. Ah, South America.
(Mike Note: How do you think he likes his beer?)
I fucking love Q.
“Now pay attention, 007. This is how you throw back a drink.”
Not exactly Hitchcock, is it?
Final Thoughts on Licence to Kill:
So that was a lot of fun in spite of the issues I have with it. Those issues are mainly that I still haven’t gotten used to Dalton completely (although he’s infinitely better here than in The Living Daylights) and the Bond girls were only so-so. That said, it was a rather refreshing departure from the usual formula in Bond, even if the whole vendetta thing did come on just a bit heavy for me. There were no really good cars and most of the really good action is saved up for that last scene. And of course, we can’t forget that Bond is probably going to have to quit the MI6 rugby team after sustaining all those head injuries.
But let’s focus on the good parts. Sanchez is a great villain after all, as is Dario. I actually think that if he’d been given a little more love, he’d have been a top-tier henchman. Still have to give him credit. Lupe and Pam were both pretty good looking, and we got more Q action than we’re used to, so points there. Then there’s the final truck scene, which is excellent. Not nearly as good as Wages of Fear, and still not involving nice cars, but it was a cool, extended chase that broke from the Bond convention of a showdown at the bad guy’s lair.
I’m not sure I rank it quite as high as this, but then again, I probably do. There’s more here that I like than what I dislike, and we’ve finally crossed over into the realm of quality films that I will watch repeatedly for sheer amusement. It’s not on the same level as the stuff that’s coming up over the next week and a half, but it’s getting there and we like it.
My Final Thoughts:
I’m still not crazy about Dalton as Bond, and, as I said, he’s still my least favorite Bond. I’d rather Roger Moore’s playfulness over his seriousness. The way he so seriously said, “Shaken, not stirred,” made me want to be like, “I don’t want to be around you anymore.” I can’t stand Bond being so serious. But this film is one I like a lot. I can’t see not putting it here, since there aren’t any films below it I enjoy more than this, and it’s clearly not above any of the other ones, so this seems to fit nice and snug right where it is. I just like a lot of things about it, to the point where I almost don’t remember the things that are weird/are not good. But most of that stuff is pretty minor, anyway. I think this fits where it is. It’ll make a perfect #13 after Skyfall. (I’m really setting myself up for… skyfall… aren’t I, if this thing isn’t good?)
- – - – -
Official Bond Number: #16
Release Date: June 13, 1989
Run Time: 133 minutes
Budget: $32 million
Box Office: $34.7 million domestically, $156.2 million worldwide
Title Song: ”Licence to Kill,” by Gladys Knight
Music By: Michael Kamen
Based On: Just Bond. It’s mostly original.
Director: John Glen
Writer: Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum
First Lines: ”We have a mid-course deviation. Target heading 036, 126 miles, bearing 062, Havana VOR.” “He’s landing at Cray Key. Advise Key West Drug Enforcement.” “Roger, sir. AWACS to Key West. Key West Drug Enforcement, please come in.” “If they hurry, they just might be able to grab the bastard.”
Last Lines: ”Why don’t you wait until you’re asked?” “So why don’t you ask me?”
- – - – -
- – – – -
- Franz Sanchez
- Pam Bouvier
Secondary Bond Girl:
- Lupe Lamora
Bond Villain Chick:
- Milton Krest
- Felix Leiter
Other Important Characters:
- Della Churchill Leiter
- Professor Joe Butcher
- Ed Killifer
- – – – -
- Key West
- Bimini Islands
- Isthmus City (which is basically Panama)
Hmm… no London at all here. That’s interesting.
- – – – -
- The tanker trucks, of course
- Maserati Biturbo
- Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
- Lincoln Mark VII LSC
- Mercury Grand Marquis stretch limousine
- Jeep CJ-7
- – – – -
- Toothpaste tube with plastic explosive in it and fake cigarettes that are detonators.
- The camera gun that can only fire when Bond uses it.
- The Polaroid camera that’s also a laser.
- The alarm clock that explodes.
- Q’s broom that has a radio transmitter in it.
- The lighter Felix (Leiter) gives to Bond shoots out kind of like a flamethrower.
- Bond has the manta ray disguise underwater.
- – – – -
- After this film, there were a bunch of legal battles that led to a six-year delay between films. That made it the final Bond film of Timothy Dalton, Robert Brown, Caroline Bliss, Richard Maibaum and Maurice Binder. And then other people, like editors and DPs and stuff, and also Albert Broccoli, who did consult on GoldenEye before he died, but wasn’t ias involved as he was here.
- After The Living Daylights, Albert Broccoli and the writers (Wilson and Maibaum) started figuring out what to do next. They wanted to keep with the darker and more realistic style they’d developed. So they took various elements from the books and pieced together what would become this film.
- John Glen, who directed all the Bond films of the 80s, considers this his best one. (I don’t think anyone would argue with that, considering his other four are For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights, which would pretty much be four of everyone’s bottom six.)
- The role of Lupe was originally offered to Maria Conchita Alonso, who was also in The Running Man and also sang that song “Vamos a Bailar” from Scarface. Mostly I just wanted to get that in there.
- Title translations: (Italy, France) Personal Revenge, (Sweden) Time for Revenge, (Japan) The Cancelled Licence, (Norway) With a Right to Kill.
- Benicio Del Toro became the third actor to win an Oscar after appearing in a Bond movie, the other two are Judi Dench and Sean Connery. He’s the first henchman to win an Oscar.
- David Hedison became the first actor to play Felix Leiter twice in this movie. Every other time before this Felix was shown, it was a different actor. Strangely, they picked the Felix from Live and Let Die. Granted, only one other Felix was shown between the two appearances, but it seems weird that they’d randomly pick him to come back. There wasn’t ever really stabilization in that role, and it’s not like everyone would remember him specifically in it.