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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 67,833 users  
Reviews: 301 user | 106 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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Title: Licence to Kill (1989)

Licence to Kill (1989) on IMDb 6.6/10

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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


His bad side is a dangerous place to be. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


| |



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?


Despite being one of the least commercially successful Bond movies in the United States, it was considered by director John Glen his best "007". This opinion is shared by some fans and critics who praise the realism of Licence to Kill (1989). See more »


When Bond is breaking into Krest's laboratory, a shark comes out under the steps, knocks a platform loose, and holds its position vertically with its head above water for several seconds. Not only is the shark obviously fake, this is atypical behavior for a shark, not to mention the fact that a shark lacks the muscle balance to hold its body in a vertical position with its head above water for any period of time. 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

The Surgeon General's warning appears at the end credits, due to the characters' use of tobacco products. See more »


Followed by Die Another Day (2002) See more »


La Bamba
Arranged by Michael Kamen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A criminally underrated Bond picture
22 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Licence To Kill is one of the most underrated Bond movies since On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Slipping easily back into 007's shoes with style after his previous role as Bond, Timothy Dalton embodies the character. With a break away from the comic-book villains and fantastical locations, the filmmakers decide to focus instead on a very adult and contemporary story about drug smuggling and revenge. Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum's story is engaging and exciting, with a steadfast confidence in their leading man. This is a Bond movie that took risks -- it was the first 15-rated Bond film in the UK -- and surely deserves kudos for doing so. Make no mistake; this is not a family Bond picture. Its themes require a more mature perspective than its predecessors, and the violence is certainly stronger than anything that had come before. Unfortunately, these factors seem to be what critics of Licence To Kill call 'faults'. But why is change so bad, I ask? Casino Royale is getting major appreciation from critics for its grittiness and its darker edge. So why not Licence To Kill? After all, this is the movie that started the current trend, with Dalton's mature portrayal of Bond paving the way for Pierce Brosnan and, without doubt, Daniel Craig. It always amazes me that people do not give Dalton more respect for what he did with the character. This guy started the ball rolling. And boy did he give it a hard push.

The characters in Licence To Kill are one of it's major plus points. James Bond is the most human we have seen him in 20 years, as Dalton brings a real sense emotional depth to the character; a tortured man full of hurt and pain and vengeance, his determined and stony face almost cracking with the burning hatred that is barely contained inside of him. We also get a strong female lead with Carey Lowell, whose portrayal of Pam Bouvier is at once intelligent, sexy, and funny. On the flip side of the coin, we have a genuinely terrifying villain in the shape of Robert Davi, playing his role deadly straight with not a hint of camp. It's a rare scenario where you feel Bond has met someone of equal competence. The Sanchez character is a frightening presence, and an early role from Benicio Del Toro is just as effective; his chilling grin a fear-inducing sight.

Technically speaking, John Glen's direction is taught and assured, with the pace never really letting up for the 130+ minutes running time, save at the very end of the movie where the spectacular truck chase sequence perhaps drags just a little. The brilliant Michael Kamen also supplies us with an elegant, sensual and brooding score that is a vital player unto itself, complimenting the visuals excellently.

In spite of these pluses, there are some minor quibbles. As I said before, the truck finale is perhaps a bit long, even though the stunt work is amazing, but it does slow the pace a bit. Talisa Soto is indeed beautiful as Sanchez' girlfriend but, bless her, she isn't exactly the most talented actress on the planet. She plays her part well enough, but the role isn't exactly Oscar-worthy, and it's not helped by the fact that the script tends to relegate her to the sidelines. Everett McGill's cigar-chomping Killifer is rather too pantomime for me - he just doesn't stand up to the characters of Sanchez or Anthony Zerbe's Krest but he doesn't stick around long so doesn't get in the way too much.

With a striking leading man in Bond's shoes, Licence To Kill deserves a lot more credit than it gets. This is the film that broke the mould, opening the doors to a more adult, violent Bond world that continued briefly with some of the Brosnan films and certainly with Daniel Craig's portrayal of the character. In Timothy Dalton we have a brilliant actor in the starring role who brought us a more human and believable Bond, yet it is Daniel Craig who is currently getting the credit for these exact traits. Don't get me wrong, his characterisation is superb. But Dalton is the one who started it off, and it is a shame that he only made the two films.

John Glen says that from all of the Bond movies that he directed, Licence To Kill is the one he is most proud of. And rightly so. Not only do we get a more fleshed-out character in Bond than previous outings, we get a more believable and mature storyline, with great characters and competent direction. Definitely one of the most underrated Bond movies, this engaging film is a great piece of entertainment, and one that I hope will gather praise with time. See it.

4 stars.

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Why Did People Not Accept the 'Angry Bond' in '89 ? mistermycroft
'He was married once...' starbond8
Surprised no one noticed... phultra
Was Felix high on painkillers... scarlet_symon
Poor Caroline Bliss genuis_of_the_year2002
Why did Bond attack the Secret Service agents? sn939
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