Licence to Kill (1989)
In License to Kill James Bond does not race a high-powered sports car, he races an oil tanker on a tight windy road. There are many things different about this movie in comparison to the others, first off James Bond has gone rogue so you will see M (Robert Brown) getting kicked (loved it), Miss Moneypenny (Caroline Bliss) pulling angles in order to aid him, and the villain is a simple drug lord. The driving force behind the story is one of revenge as a couple of James’ friends are murdered and maimed with the American authorities unwilling to do anything about it. While the stunts are ridiculous (A semi goes up on 9 wheels in order to dodge a missile) and the celebrity cameos are distracting, the characters themselves really made this movie.
Starting out at a wedding with 007 wearing a strange gray tuxedo and top hat, the music and look of License to Kill rings odd initially as the trade-off between Felix Leiter (David Hedison), James and Sharkey (Frank McRae) is quite forgettable as they skip out on Felix’s wedding in order to pursue Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). Upon hanging Sanchez’s airplane from a dangling helicopter hook, the two men parachute into the ceremony and the priest rushes them into the church for the vows. Pretty soon hell breaks loose as Sanchez shows that he is no easy capture and Felix’s beautiful wife Della Churchill (Priscilla Barnes) gets the short end of the stick.
There are quite a few familiar faces in this, faces of actors and celebrities that may have not been huge in 1989 but are instantly recognizable now. Benicio Del Toro does an awesome job as the ex-Guerilla thug Dario, with his sinister smile and bad boy swag. The legendary Wayne Newton is cast as Professor Joe Butcher and there are a few smaller actors scattered about that have done bigger things since. I do not understand the hate this movie receives since it offered up a pretty decent package for the Bond genre. My only annoyance was the 80’s feeling to everything and the silly things Dalton was made to do towards the end (seriously a truck popping a wheelie on command? Are you serious?). If you don’t watch this for anything, watch it for the Bond girls.
Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) is everything that I look for in a Bond girl, like Maryam d’Abo before her in The Living Daylights she is gorgeous, deadly and incredibly resourceful. Pam runs into James along the way as he pursues drug kingpin Franz Sanchez in order to exact revenge for the death of his friend. Across from Pam is another Bond girl in Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), a captive girlfriend to Franz Sanchez. While many people love Lupe over Pam due to her dark, exotic beauty, Pam displayed a killer set of legs, a shape to die for and she could handle a shotgun and pilot an aircraft. Still these two beauties lit up the screen whenever they appeared and I cannot think of many other Bond movies that featured two positively beautiful women without one being a villainess.
Bond-o-meter Score (ranges from 1-10)
James Bond/Story (6): James goes rogue but they send no 00’s after him… this was a bad setup.
Bond Girls: Pam and Lupe (10): Lupe is hot and Pam Bouvier? I wish every Bond girl was like her.
Bond Toys (8): Tricked out camera gun, C-4 tooth paste and detonator cigarettes. Definitely a Spy movie.
The Villain (6): While Franz Franchez was smooth, he lacked a dangerous edge to me…
Spicy Rating (7): If the distracting cameos and sub-par 80s kickbacks weren’t present, License to Kill would have been better. It was an unnecessary addition to the story of James but a sexy one all the same… the girls that is