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Licence to Kill (1989)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Adventure, Thriller  |  14 July 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 69,651 users  
Reviews: 306 user | 114 critic

James Bond goes rogue and sets off to unleash vengeance on a drug lord who tortured his best friend, a C.I.A. agent, and left him for dead and murdered his bride after he helped capture him.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
President Hector Lopez (as Pedro Armendariz)


James Bond is on possibly his most brutal mission yet. Bond's good friend, Felix Leiter, is left near death, by drug baron Franz Sanchez. Bond sets off on the hunt for Sanchez, but not everyone is happy. MI6 does not feel Sanchez is their problem and strips Bond of his license to kill making Bond more dangerous than ever. Bond gains the aid of one of Leiter's friends, known as Pam Bouvier and sneaks his way into the drug factories, which Sanchez owns. Will Bond be able to keep his identity secret, or will Sanchez see Bond's true intentions? Written by simon

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


James Bond is out on his own and out for revenge. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for action violence and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

14 July 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

License to Kill  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$32,000,000 (estimated)


$34,667,015 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was due to be shown on ITV on March 13, 1996 but it was cancelled as a result of the Dunblane school massacre. See more »


Both Truman-Lodge and Heller greet the Asian delegation in Japanese, but the delegation members speak Chinese amongst themselves. In addition, two members of the delegation are referred to as "Kwang" and "Tan," which are surnames of Chinese origin. See more »


[first lines]
AWACS radar operator: We have a mid-course deviation. Target heading 036, 126 miles, bearing 062, Havana VOR.
Voice of DEA agent: He's landing at Cray Key. Advise Key West Drug Enforcement.
AWACS radar operator: Roger, sir. AWACS to Key West. Key West Drug Enforcement, please come in.
Voice of DEA agent: If they hurry, they just might be able to grab the bastard.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the tail end of the credits: "James Bond Will Return" See more »


References On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) See more »


Music by Dick Walter
KPM Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Hard-edged Bond film. Not a great commercial success, but it has interesting points.
10 October 2003 | by (Todmorden, England) – See all my reviews

Timothy Dalton only played Bond twice, but he tried to base his interpretation of the character on the descriptions provided by Ian Fleming in the original novels. Therefore, his Bond is quite ruthless and embittered, and always ready to stick two fingers up at the establishment if he feels they've got it wrong.

Bond is vacationing in Florida, acting as best-man at his friend Felix Leiter's wedding, when the unthinkable happens. Leiter and his wife are assaulted by some Central American thugs; the wife is murdered and Leiter is crippled by sharks. Bond is obviously deeply unhappy about this, but his bosses instruct him to let the matter drop and get on with another assignment. 007 knows who is responsible for the injuries to his friend, so he revokes his licence to kill and becomes a rogue agent, tracking down the villainous drug lord Sanchez (Robert Davi) to his Latin America headquarters. Here, aided by Sanchez's unfaithful mistress Lupe (Talisa Soto) and CIA agent Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), Bond attempts to wipe out their enormous clandestine drug operation single-handedly.

There's definitely an uneasy, hard edge to the film which makes it unique among the Bond series. Whether or not this improves the film depends on your personal taste: if you like safe, humorous Roger Moore escapades, you'll probably find this too jarring, whereas if you prefer espionage stories with a bit of grit and sweat, this may be just what you're after. The action sequences are still outrageous in the tried-and-trusted Bond style, with memorable episodes featuring a daring helicopter .vs. airplane pursuit; a barefoot water-skiing sequence; and a truck chase down the side of a mountain. Some of the language, though not out-and-out "foul", is a bit stronger and more believable than in other Bond entries. The theme tune from Gladys Knight and the Pips is one of the better 007-tracks.

Licence to Kill is a new twist on the Bond theme. It isn't the best, and some of its new ideas don't fit with the usual routine (which may or may not be a good thing), but it is certainly interesting.

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