Licence to Kill (1989)

reviewed by
Robert Dorsett


                               LICENSE TO KILL
                       A film review by Robert Dorsett
                        Copyright 1989 Robert Dorsett

Timothy Dalton's back as James Bond, in what appears to be a mixture of many plot elements from the *book* LIVE AND LET DIE, the movie THUNDERBALL, and various "Miami Vice" episodes.

The plot: Tragedy strikes Felix Leiter, the CIA agent who's helped out Bond many a time (and who's undergone yet another facelift :-)). The culprit is a drug czar. Bond goes on a revenge trip, accumulating an impressive body count along the way (remember, Bond has the license to *kill*, and he uses it liberally in this one). In the process of his vendetta, the Secret Service disowns him, which makes for a renegade secret agent, and, for the first time in the series' history, a plausible cover story.

Story: mostly sound, almost even believable.

Dialogue: I saw this at a college preview. The audience appreciated some intentionally corny lines. I'm not sure how well the same lines would come across in "real life." "I love James so much"--this from a girl who barely knows him... :-) (That particular scene was a throw-away.) There are a lot of very good wisecracks, as well as self-deprecating humor.

Special effects: some pretty good ones, some very complex. Unfortunately, there are continuity problems on some of the more complex effects.

Stunts: likewise, some very complex ones....

Gore count: still cartoonland violence, but this flick has the highest casualty count in years.

Characterization: Bond's drifting closer to the "book Bond" than even Connery did. He gets really bashed up in this one (although, unlike many a Bond book, he doesn't end up in the hospital). The villain's a suitable match for him, this time around.

Product placement: didn't seem very conspicuous. Of course, a Coast Guard Dauphin II had a big "Aerospatiale" logo on the side of it, which I didn't notice when I examined one fairly closely six weeks ago.... :-)

     Cars: mostly American shit.
     Airplanes: mostly Cessna.

Gadgets: a few. I get the impression that the gadgets were only introduced to bring Q on the screen, who's an audience favorite. It isn't really a gadget movie, but they do use everyday household appliances (spear guns, lighters, airplanes, Stingers) in interesting ways...

Overall review: one of the best adventure films this summer, and the best Bond since THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. Easily on a par with INDY III, and much better than the summer disappointments (GHOSTBUSTERS II, STAR TREK V, BATMAN). 3 stars (out of four), or a 7.5/10 on the genre-sensitive scale.


The review above was posted to the rec.arts.movies.reviews newsgroup (de.rec.film.kritiken for German reviews).
The Internet Movie Database accepts no responsibility for the contents of the review and has no editorial control. Unless stated otherwise, the copyright belongs to the author.
Please direct comments/criticisms of the review to relevant newsgroups.
Broken URLs in the reviews are the responsibility of the author.
The formatting of the review is likely to differ from the original due to ASCII to HTML conversion.

Related links: index of all rec.arts.movies.reviews reviews