The James Bond Film Festival. Part 16: License to Kill

The James Bond Film Festival. Part 1: Dr. No
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 2: From Russia with Love
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 3: Goldfinger
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 4: Thunderball
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 5: You Only Live Twice
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 6: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 7: Diamonds are Forever
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 8: Live and Let Die
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 9: The Man with the Golden Gun
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 10: The Spy Who Loved Me
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 11: Moonraker
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 12: For Your Eyes Only
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 13: Octopussy
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 14: A View to a Kill
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 15: The Living Daylights

"He disagreed with something that ate him"

I don’t remember in which book Felix Leiter lost his leg, but the story shows up in License to Kill. Timothy Dalton makes his second, and final, appearance as Agent 007.

In the pre-title sequence Felix Leiter (David Hedison) is on his way to get married, and Bond is riding along as the Best Man. The trip is interrupted when DEA agents require Leiter to help them arrest drug kingpin Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). In the melee that follows, Sanchez makes his escape in a Cessna 172. In one of the more incredible stunts, Bond is lowered on the Coast Guard Dolphin’s hoist and secures a cable to the empennage of the Skyhawk and the villain is left hanging. Bond and Leiter parachute to the wedding below.

Sanchez escapes custody through the good offices of corrupt agent Killifer (Everett McGill). Killifer butts the driver of the police van and drives off the edge of that big-ass bridge they have in the Florida Keys. They are picked up with an underwater sled courtesy of Sanchez’s smuggling partner Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe).

Sanchez is a little peeved at the inconvenience of his brief incarceration, so he goes after the man responsible. Right after Felix Leiter carries his wife Della (Priscilla Barnes) across the threshhold after the reception, he is kidnapped by Sanchez’s men. Felix is only worried about his wife. “Don’t worry,” says a henchman, “We gave her a good honeymoon.” Sanchez tells Leiter that it’s nothing personal; just business. He sends Leiter to the sharks. Bond is about to leave for his next assignment when he finds out that Sanchez has escaped. He goes to Leiter’s house and finds Della’s body. There’s a body bag on the couch. It’s Felix, with a note that says “He disagreed with something that ate him”. Bond blows off his next assignment to go after Sanchez. He finds Krest’s cover operation and after a brief fight with henchmen, throws Killifer to the same shark that got Felix.

This has not gone unnoticed by the American spooks. Bond is taken to see M (Robert Brown) who informs him that he is to leave immediately for his next assignment in Istanbul. He revokes Bond’s “license to kill” and demands his gun. Bond scuffles with the security men and gets away. He is now acting under no authority but he righteous indignation. He steals aboard Krest’s ship, Wavekrest in search of Sanchez. There he meets Sanchez’s squeeze Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto). What does Lupe bring to the table? Not much. But what’s a Bond film without a pretty girl?

So what’s Wavekrest doing out there anyway? Krest is making a transfer. He is taking on Sanchez’s cocaine and sending Sanchez bales of money in return. The opertion is carried out with a remotely controlled sled, to a waiting floatplane. Bond escapes the ship and intercepts the sled. He slices open the kilos of coke, no doubt contributing to the delinquency of many fish. Krest sends men after him, and Bond manages to spear one of the airplane floats. After scrambling aboard the flying aircraft and dispatching the crew, he escapes.

He sneaks back to Leiter’s house and finds a CD with the name of Leiter’s next contact, Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). He meets her at a waterfront dive to warn her that she is in danger because Sanchez’s men have found a disc containing the identities of Felix’s contacts. After a barroom brawl with Henchmen and Dario (Benicio Del Toro), they escape and Bond tells Bouvier that he needs to go to Isthsmus City to get Sanchez. He needs a pilot. Fortunately, Bouvier is a pilot-for-hire. They fly to Isthsmus City where Bond poses as a hitman. He is accepted into Sanchez’s ranks and is about to kill him (with some unauthorized help from “Q”, Desmond Llewelyn) when he is jumped by Asians who were about to make a $100 million drug deal with Sanchez. Turns out the Asians are agents who have been working for a long time to infiltrate Sanchez’s organisation. They have Bond tied to a table and are about to put him to sleep for a quick trip back to London. But Bond lucks out. When the army (under Sanchez’s orders) attack their hideout, Bond gets his bona fides in Sanchez’s eyes.

Bond hints to Sanchez that Krest plans to kill him. He sneaks the money that was in the airplane he escaped on earlier onto Krest’s ship. Sanchez finds the money and puts Krest into the decompression chamber. When the pressure reaches its zenith, he chops the line and Krest’s head explodes. “What should we do with the money?” “Launder it.”

One aspect of Sanchez’s operation is a televangelist program whereby he announces prices and accepts contracts through the preacher Professor Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton). Sanchez takes his investors to see his drug factory. The cocaine is dissolved in gasoline for shipment. Unfortunately for Bond, he is recognized by Dario. Bond starts a fire in the lab and soon the whole place is about to blow up. Tankers filled with the coke/gas mixture take to the road. Bond is going to be fed into the crusher, but Bouvier (going under the alias “Ms. Kennedy”) shoots Dario. He falls alive into the rotating teeth.

And the chase is on! Bouvier flies a Piper Super Cub over the tankers and Bond hops down onto one. This is the formula “Bond fights the bad guys on a dangerous moving vehicle” sequence. Inevitably, it’s down to Bond and the now-gasoline-soaked Sanchez. Sanchez is about to dispatch Bond with a machete when Bond asks, “Don’t you want to know why?” Bond displays his present that Felix and Della gave him: an engraved silver cigarette lighter. Bond torches Sanchez. (Heh. “Felix Lighter”. Get it?)

Right. How was License to Kill? Not bad. Not exceptional, but not bad. I liked the scenes with David Hedison. But I like Bond films about espionage. The drug stories don’t interest me as much. I want to see Bond as a spy; not as a pissed-off tough guy. It held my interest, but I didn’t like it as much as Dalton’s previous outing.

Carey Lowell was cute. I liked her with the short hair. Nice bod. But she wasn’t an exceptional actress. The scene on the boat where she is arguing with Bond and then falling in lust with him was wooden. Talisa Soto didn’t do much in the film. She passed information to Bond, but she was clearly there only as eye candy. I like Anthony Zerbe, but he just didn’t seem to pull off the role of Krest as well as he could have.

I found a few things to nitpick, but the only one that comes to mind at the moment is Bouvier’s Super Cub. In an inflight scene you can clearly see “Catarinna 1” on the cowl, but in the next scene it is not there. A small detail, and a minor continuity error that meant nothing.

License to Kill was a decent movie, and was much better than many of the Roger Moore offerings; but as I said, I want to see spies.

Love this movie! The hottest Bond babes, coolest stunts, and bits & pieces of ‘The Hildenbrandt Rarity’.

I believe the shark-bite idea came from Fleming’s second Bond adventure, Live and Let Die.

SEMI-HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE: The original U.S. home video release of Licence to Kill, released in 1990 by CBS/FOX Home Video, features an interesting piece of Bondiana: a unique, Bond-themed commercial for Schweppes Tonic Water starring John Cleese-who, less than a decade later, would become the replacement for Desmond Llewelyn’s Q in the Bond film series!

Timothy Dalton’s second and last outing as Bond – and the last Bond movie for several years. The last opening montage by Maurice Binder .

I liked the “Bond goes Rogue” elemen (re-used in the latest Bond film), and the active role played by Q. Again, a well-done flick with far fewer puerilities than the Moore films ad.

David Hedison showed up as Felix Leiter, a role he had played way back in 1973’s Live and Let Die. He’s the only guy to play Leiter twice. He also acted in Leiter doing one of the fw things he’s actually described as doing in a Fleming book – getting tortured by being se down into an alligator tank, and losing parts (in the book he lost his hand. In later books, Leiter had a hook). The incident happened in Live and Let Die, interestingly nough. It’s also the last time a Bond movie actually used an incident from one of the books. Ever since, the Bond films have had all original materials. (material from Live and Let Die also showed up in LALD the movie, of course, and in For Your Eyes Only).

It was the first time since Moonraker that they wrote a novelization of the movie. John Gardner, who’d ben writing new Bond books since 1982’s “License Renewed”, wrote the book. Since then, every new Bond film has had its own novelization to accompany it.

As for the film, I liked it. Bond wa tough and resourceful.

I can’t believe I didn’t see this thread sooner.

I thought License to Kill was the better of the two Dalton films, if only because Q’s larger-than-usual role balanced out Dalton’s humorlessness. The villains were also less ridiculous and more sadistic and cool (I’ll always remember how flippantly Sanchez responds to the agent who declares he can’t be bought for a million, “two.”). Carey Lowell didn’t wow me in the movie, but in the liner notes that accompanied the DVD, there’s a picture of her that I can’t take my eyes off. I also enjoyed Wayne Newton, he played very well off Lowell in their big scene toward the end.

I know alot of people didn’t care for the movie, but I enjoyed it alot, and Gladys Knights singing of the title song is one of the best Bond Songs ever (only second to Carly Simons turn).

This film stood out as the absolute worst of all the Bond flicks, until Die another Day came out.

It’s just another sinister-drug-lord movie. Pinched story, bad writing, bad acting, basically a two-part Miami Vice episode starring Dalton as Crockett and Lowell as Tibbs. Davi phones it in. Newton is a joke, which works until they stretch it out another half hour.

I remember seeing this movie around the same time as one of the Lethal Weapon episodes, 2 I think. Both have the drug kingpin story line and I liked 'em both. The bad guys werw just evil evil evil and the good guys get to kick butt. Which always makes for a satisfying movie-going experience in my book, cause who doesn’t like bad guys getting what they deserve?

I used to look forward to Bond films, now I couldn’t care less. I’ll watch 'em on video, maybe. This was one of the good ones though. Carey Lowell and Talisa Soto are smoking hot and I watched the movie on tape just to see them again (I worked in a video store at the time so I saw them for free). I think Dalton was a great Bond and I don’t undestand people who didn’t care for him.

Bah… put me in the “it sucked” camp. Compared to Dalton’s previous outing, which marked a return to actual espionage stories, this one is just Bond chasing drug lords on a personal vendetta. Most of the past movies have stressed that what Bond does, he does for Queen and country, not for himself. Of course, maybe people were tired of that and just wanted to see, as DTT put it, good guys kicking ass.

On the good side, the chase in the teaser is very well done, though I am curious if a USCG Dauphin helicopter can really do that to a 172. The stunt pilots they had for that sequence had to have been very good, as when the 172 is first taking off, it makes a turn so steep it nearly plants a wingtip in the ground. That takes some brass ones.

I was also none too impressed with Carey Lowell or Talisa Soto, either in terms of beauty or acting ability.

Interesting trivia, courtesy IMDb: This was the only Bond movie not filmed at Pinewood Studios in London. Also the first movie not to take its title from the Fleming stories, and the last to include Felix Leiter.
President Hector Lopez was played by Pedro Armendariz, Jr., whose father played Kerim Bey all the way back in From Russia With Love.
The set for Fox’s show “Paradise Island” is the same location used for Sanchez’ mansion. Who’d have thought?

av8rmike:

Actually, the thought occurred to me that these might be connected…since they’ve run out of Fleming material, they decided to actively remove certain Fleming elements from the remainder of the movie series.

Also, another thought: it can’t have been a total coincidence that Della Leiter’s death echoed Tracy Bond’s in On her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Chaim Mattis Keller

Not true, I’m afraid. As I indicated above, this is the last film to raw major incidents from Fleming stories and the openin bit comes from the Fleming story “The Living Daylights”. If you got this from the IMDB, they’re wrong. (As I note, another bit came from the Fleming novel “Lve and Let Die”.)

The title proved to be a hassle for foreign versions of the film. “THe Living Daylights” isn’ really translatable, so the film acquired very different titles in other countries.

Oh please, compared to A View to a Kill? That stands to this day as the worst Bond movie ever made, and that’s including Casino Royale (the Woody Allen/Peter Sellers/David Niven one).

Sorry about that. It was late and I thopught i was posting to the "Living Daylights"thread. See my earlier ciomments above.

Whereas I can sit down and watch an hour of View, although it’s not very good, I cannot sit down and watch 10 minutes of License, because it is very bad. That’s the standard here.

View has better locations, better villains, better story, better chase & fight scenes, better jokes, better gadgets, and better music. All License has is better looking babes.