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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 69,503 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
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Did You Know?


Desmond Llewelyn later noted that this was the first time that he'd made any real money out of the Bond films. See more »


Bond's Lincoln Mark VII has a front Florida license plate; that state only has rear plates. 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 »


Referenced in Law & Order: License to Kill (2005) See more »


Für Elise
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Arranged by Michael Kamen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Fleming's Bond is Back
1 January 1999 | by (New Hampshire, USA) – See all my reviews

This is the most underrated film in the series. It's ironic that the first of the EON films not to draw its title directly from an Ian Fleming story is also the closest in spirit to Fleming since "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Of course, the titles had long since become the ONLY connection between Fleming's original stories and the movies -- the film plots and Roger Moore's portrayal bore almost no resemblance to Fleming's Bond.

In "License to Kill" continues what he started in "The Living Daylights": he portrays a Bond that is still an ultra-suave superagent, but is also moody and reckless -- in other words, human.

Bond is driven to avenge the near murder of his friend Felix Leiter (and the murder of Leiter's wife) at the hands of drug lord Franz Sanchez. Sanchez is excellently played by Robert Davi. He ends up being assisted by CIA agent Pam Bouvier. Bouvier is played by Cary Lowell, in a performance that earns her automatic entry onto the list of top 5 all time Bond women.

Some elements of the story come from Fleming's short story "The Hildebrande Rarity." Sanchez's doomed henchmen Milton Krest is lifted directly from "The Hildebrand Rarity," and elements of the relationship between Sanchez and his girlfriend Lupe echo that of Krest and his wife Liz in the original story.

The other Fleming story drawn upon is "Live and Let Die" for the plot-driving scene in which Leiter is thrown to the sharks. (This marks the second time that Fleming's "Live and Let Die" was drawn upon for a key scene in a movie other than the film version of LALD. The other is the "dragged behind a speedboat over the reef" scene in "For Your Eyes Only." It kind of makes you wonder what the powers that be at EON were thinking when they couldn't find a place for these powerful, effective scenes in the pastiche that is LALD.)

"License to Kill" features a realistic, believable story. Add to it the equal ruthlessness of Bond and Sanchez in their respective portrayals by Dalton and Davi and you have a movie that will stand out over time as one of the best in the series.

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