Film Review: Licence To Kill

Bond goes rogue and I absolutely love it. Timothy Dalton has completely destroyed any effects Roger Moore has had on my love for James Bond. He’s essentially done what Daniel Craig was Lorded for doing and revitalized Bond in stunning fashion. It’s just beyond a crying shame that as quickly as he appeared and we’re parting ways because, for me, until Daniel Crag arrives, Timothy Dalton is James Bond!

Licence To Kill sees Bond turn rogue to capture a Cuban drug dealer and avenge the attack on his friend Felix Leiter. It should be pointed out at this point that to start with it’s the first Bond film not to take its title from an Ian Flemming novel, but instead, and almost bizzarely, borrows source material from its plot from a number of short stories and most noticeably the 2nd Bond novel “Live and Let Die”. This meant that when the film started I actually got slightly confused. I sat there watching the action unfold thinking “I know all of this – I’ve read this book, but if I’ve read the book why didn’t I watch the film” which was annoying because it was an unwarranted distraction to the movie.

Thankfully, just as Bond goes rogue so does the film making. They have thankfully thrown off the paint by numbers routine that dogged and destroyed so much of the Roger Moore era and made this film gritty and determined and strong. It has a sense of purpose, a sense of revenge and it just works perfectly.

As a result of the tone of the movie, the plot has been written in a way that gives strength and depth to all its characters. Even the Bond girls come across not as nonsensical, throwaways but rather as almost, an equal. And the one or two moments where the romance and swooning does come out, you almost feel as if it’s portrayed in such a way that the film is apologising for having to do.

And things just get better and better, not only are the stunts that pepper the film throughout absolutely stunning. Gone are the over the top antics and unbelievable feats of man over realism, and instead they’ve replaced them with tense, edge of your seat reality that are not only realistic but also a joy to watch. The final lorry chase is case in point; a no point do you think “oh come on that couldn’t happen” but rather “bloody hell…”. It’s perfect.

The other major plus point for the film is the use of Q. This is a serious Bond film and the usual use of Q and his over the top gadgets just wouldn’t fit. A rocket launching ghetto blaster or underwater Lotus would just be out of place and spoil the film not only in tone but also in context. But that doesn’t mean you can’t involve Q, you just need to think outside the box and they have brilliantly. As I have said, Licence To Kill is a serious film but to keep it entertaining and enjoyable, they’ve used Q to provide brief glimpsing moments of comic relief. They’ve essentially given him a role, they’ve let the character and not the gadgets come to the foreground and struck movie gold. Desmond Llewelyn shines and brilliantly balances the film, I honestly think it’s only taken 16 films to do it but this is the way Q should have always been involved.

I think I better stop now as this review is getting more and more one sided. You’ve probably realised by now that I adore Licence To Kill, it’s was my favourite Bond film and arguably still is giving the Daniel Craig films a serious run for their money. It’s been 2 days since I watched it and I can’t wait till I get to see it again!

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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