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Licence To Kill (Special Edition)
Licence To Kill
Special Edition
Actors: Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe
Director: John Glen
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
PG     2002     2hr 13min

Timothy Dalton's second and last shot at playing James Bond isn't nearly as much fun as his debut, two years earlier, in the 1987 film The Living Daylights. This time Bond gets mad after a close friend (David Hedison) from...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe
Director: John Glen
Creators: Albert R. Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Tom Pevsner, Ian Fleming, Richard Maibaum
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Espionage, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: CBS/Fox Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/22/2002
Original Release Date: 07/14/1989
Theatrical Release Date: 07/14/1989
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 2hr 13min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 3
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Subtitles: English, French
See Also:

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 5/9/2022...
Timothy Dalton is the 2nd worst Bond but this movie is a must if you are a 007, James Bond fan!

Movie Reviews

Licence To Kill
Kimberly Isbister | Grand Blanc, MI United States | 04/22/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many people seem to not like Timothy Dalton as James Bond. I think he is great as bond. He shows emotion as 007 and can still hold his own in a fight. I would rather watch Timothy Dalton as Bond, James Bond, than Danial Craig. Bond has not been the same since Craig took over."
Excellent BLU RAY transfer. Excellent Bond movie.
insoc | Miami, Florida United States | 04/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is how all "old" movies should be transfered to Blu Ray. The colors are vibrant, the image is rich. This movie has a lot of sea scenes, both day a night and really, watching the sea scenes is like having a nature HD documentary starring James Bond! Tough Timothy Dalton is one of my favorite "Bonds" I would rate this movie a 3 star. I am just waiting to see The Living Daylights on BD!!"
A licence to thrill.
B. Mccann | Balckpool, England | 02/07/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Released in 1989, Licence To Kill moved well away from the comic book gadgetry that previously defined Bond films. With Timothy Dalton's debut returning the character to the darker, hard edged assassin of the Fleming novels, it was decided to consolidate this with a film more reflective of this characterisation. It proved a grittier path that has since been more successfully taken by the recent Daniel Craig films. And even now, 20 years later, Bond fans are still divided over whether it is one of 007's greatest screen adventures, or whether it is even a "real" James Bond film at all.

The personal vendetta theme is one adapted from the novel You Only Live Twice, in which a grieving 007 ends up avenging the murder of his wife when discovering that the object of his latest mission, Dr. Shatterhand, is in fact Blofeld, the man who killed her. With the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE no longer available to EON, the producers elected to have the wife of Bond's CIA buddy Felix Leiter being murdered instead, while Leiter is fed to a shark and partially mutilated; an episode adapted from a previously unfilmed scene in Fleming's Live and Let Die.

The perpetrator of these crimes is the South American drug baron, Sanchez. Again, some fans complained drug smuggling was not really Bond territory (even though it had been used in the film of Live and Let Die). The idea was lifted from an episode in the opening of the novel, Goldfinger, in which Bond has just completed a mission to eliminate a Mexican drug lord.

As played by Robert Davi, Sanchez was the most interesting villain in a Bond film since Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. Perhaps to play against Timothy Dalton's classical credentials, Sanchez was written up as a villain with Shakespearian complexity. Despite his nastier streaks, he is charismatic, charming, humorous, even likeable in some ways. He is a man of honour, who values loyalty before money and is willing to risk his operation to prove this point. But, like King Lear, Sanchez is a fool to his own vanity and impulsiveness - the latter of which is probably fuelled by sampling his own products - and this leads to his downfall.

The writers heighten this strange complexity by surrounding Sanchez with henchmen who are smaller and singularly vile. Milton Krest is a drunken loudmouth letch. Killifer has slimy written all over him even before he betrays his badge, oath and "old buddy" Felix. Dario is a repulsive piece of work, who was even kicked out by the Contras and whose loyalty to Sanchez is almost a love affair. Sanchez's finance wizard, Trueman-Lodge, is a shallow 1980s yuppie who reduces the human suffering of cocaine addiction to socio-economic group statistics for business needs.

Other critiques of the film have included the violence. It probably still remains the goriest Bond film, was the first to be given a restricted rating in this country, 15, and even then had to be censored to get that (The DVD has restored all the cut material). In some ways, it did feel like off the leash madness by the director, but the recent Daniel Craig films have, again, caught up with this.

One of the most criticised scenes, however, is the one where Bond runs out on M and is shot at by his fellow agents, many fans believing it does not make sense and was written that way to be sensational. It very probably was written up to elicit an effect; but then that is a mark of a Bond script. The scene was originally going to be a more mundane affair in which M simply visits Bond in his hotel suite to persuade him to abandon his vendetta and return to the fold. When Bond remains defiant, M basically tells him "You're on your own" and leaves. Obviously the producers decided they wanted something more dramatically punchy. However, as extrinsic as it may be, the version they ended up filming is vacuous. There is a detectable internal logic to the episode and a close adherence to the Jungian archetype of the Hero's Journey in its structure.

James Bond, having completed his previous quest with the prize of killing the traitor, Killifer, is "called to adventure" a second time by two MI6 agents. They escort him into the inner sanctum of the Hemmingway House for a meeting with the mentor (M). The sequence that follows then divides into two parts. The first is the mentor advising the hero to give up his present course and accept the mission that has been assigned to him. No weapons are drawn at this point as this is M offering Bond one last chance to abandon his personal vendetta and avoid its possible consequences. When Bond displays his continued defiance, he crosses the threshold and into the scene's second part and his first test. Weapons are now reached for by M's minions and they physically close in, having presumably been previously briefed to take Bond down should he make a break for it (and, presumably, this would be under the code of shoot to disable).

M, in his position, would have no choice but to countenance the policy. Bond is no longer at this point his top agent, but a tarnished one. He has broken ranks, disobeyed orders and possibly compromised the security of the intelligence service through an act of vigilante killing. Aware of Bond's capabilities, M would also know how dangerous he could prove to be if let out of control. He has no choice but to stop this agent going. It is only by the fact there are too many witnesses about that M orders his men to stop shooting.

Some critics also complained that the film reduced Bond to a killing machine and had become singularly humourless. Certainly this approach must have been a culture shock to the Roger Moore generation; but Bond is a licence to kill, professional assassin, not gentleman jewel thief Simon Templar. In defence of the decision to not give Dalton any humour at all this time (he did get a few quips in The Living Daylights), this is a revenge movie and, therefore, not really the place for silly jokes. Q is brought in to provide some light relief and, consequently, his scenes are a little out of synch with the main body of the film. Besides, would he not get in trouble with M for aiding a rouge agent, even if he is doing it in his spare time?

Released in the summer of 1989, Licence to Kill, fared less well in the American market than the previous Bond caper, which EON blames on a lacklustre publicity campaign by MGM/UA. The original film poster was mysteriously withdrawn by the studio and replaced by a dull photo montage which appears to partially hide the fact this is a Bond film at all. Despite this, the movie achieved an initial world wide gross in excess of $100, 000,000; certainly enough for EON to plan their third Dalton adventure, slated to shoot in Hong Kong during late 1990. A legal argument between EON and MGM/UA over the sale of Bond films to television scuppered that plan and 007 remained off air for six years.

Whether it works as a James Bond film or not, Licence to Kill is an engaging, hard edged action adventure thriller that has stood the test of time well. Not as cracking as OHMSS, which is probably why it has not reclaimed by critics in the same way that film has. But with the Daniel Craig movies putting Bond back in the site of hard edged thriller, a re evaluation of Licence to Kill is surely just around the corner.