Licence to Kill
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FAQ Contents

A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Licence to Kill can be found here.

When, on his wedding night, ex-CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) (now with the Drug Enforcement Administration) is fed to a great white shark and his wife Della (Priscilla Barnes) is raped and murdered by thugs working for Latin American drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), 007 agent James Bond (Timothy Dalton) defies direct orders from MI6 chief M (Robert Brown), surrenders his gun and license to kill, and goes rogue in order to infiltrate the drug organization and seek revenge against Sanchez. Aided by Leiter's CIA friend Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) along with Sanchez' mistress Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), Bond soon learns that there is much more to it than his personal vendetta.

All of the James Bond movies from 1962 until 1990, and again from 2006 onward, are based, in some part, upon novels or stories by British author Ian Fleming [1908-1964]. Although Licence to Kill is the first Bond film not to take its title or overall storyline from an original James Bond story, there are some elements of Fleming's works in the movie. The scenes with Felix Leiter being fed to a shark, Bond's revenge against the man most directly responsible for maiming Felix, and Franz Sanchez and his minions hiding smuggled drugs inside fish tanks were taken from the original novel of Live And Let Die (1954). In the book, however, Leiter loses his arm as well as parts of his leg, and in subsequent books, he has a prosthesis. Also, in the original novel, the villain (an Afro-Caribbean spymaster working for the Russians) is smuggling recovered pirate treasure instead of drugs. The character of Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) and his yacht the Wavekrest was featured in "The Hildebrand Rarity", a short story in For Your Eyes Only (1960), a collection of five James Bond short stories. Krest's weapon of choice - a stingray tail used as a whip - was given to the film's villain, Sanchez. The remainder of the film is from an original screenplay crafted by American screenwriters Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum. The screenplay was subsequently novelized by John Gardner.

Who sings the title song?

The title song, Licence to Kill, is performed by American soul singer Gladys Knight. The song that plays during the closing credits is If You Asked Me To, performed by American R&B singer Patti LaBelle.

The movie starts with Bond, Felix Leiter, and Sharkey (Frank McRae) driving across Hwy 1 from the Florida mainland to the West Keys where Bond is going to be best man at Felix's wedding. After Felix is severely wounded by Sanchez, Bond vows to avenge him. His vendetta takes him to the Bahamas, first to Cay Sal Bank where he boards the Wavekrest looking for Sanchez, then to the Barrelhead Bar on the island of Bimini where he links up with Felix's informant Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). From there, Bond and Pam travel to the fictitious Isthmus City (said to be patterned after Panama) where they wreck havoc on Sanchez's drug trade.

Earlier in the movie, during the wedding scenes, Felix asks Bond to hand him Della's framed photo. As Bond watches, Felix slips the disk behind it.

Bond and Sharkey visit every shipping firm in the Keys. At the firm run by Milton Krest, he notices the flowers from Felix' wedding boutonniere on the floor. It's certainly not enough evidence to implicate anyone but Bond knows it belonged to his friend. Additionally, one of the employees at the Ocean Exotica fails to recognize the Latin term for a great white shark.

At the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Bond married Tracy Di Vincenzo (Diana Rigg), but she was shot by Blofeld as they were stopped along the highway on their way to their honeymoon. (Many fans have noted that if Bond's Aston-Martin, supplied to him by Q, had included a bulletproof windscreen (windshield), Tracy would have been protected and lived.) As it stands, Bond feels tremendous guilt for Tracy's death. See the pre-title teaser of For Your Eyes Only for another reference to Tracy.

Sanchez increases the pressure inside the chamber to perhaps nine times normal air pressure. The human body can take that pressure - and has to when deep diving, which is why the Wavekrest has such a device onboard. However, under such circumstances, the body breathes in air which is strongly compressed (containing substantially more oxygen and nitrogen molecules than air under normal pressure). When Sanchez cuts the pipe with an axe, the sudden release of air pressure - the sudden drop from nine atmospheres to one - causes all the gasses that have been taken in the lungs and the blood to start expanding violently. This results in the body exploding from its own internal pressure.

What does OMI stand for?

The Olympatec Meditation Institute (OMI), a cover for Sanchez's cocaine manufacturing plant.

How does the movie end?

As Bond and Sanchez battle it out on the back of the oil tanker, now rolling out of control, it runs off the road and down a hillside. Bond crawls away from the truck, but Sanchez suddenly appears soaked in gasoline and wielding a machete. As Sanchez prepares to swing the machete, Bond slips from his pocket the engraved cigarette lighter presented to him by Felix and Della on their wedding day and asks, 'Don't you want to know why?' Sanchez pauses mid-swing, noticing the engraving. Bond suddenly flicks the lighter toward Sanchez, and the flame ignites his gasoline-soaked clothes. On fire, Sanchez stumbles into the wrecked truck, blowing up both it and himself. Just then, Pam drives by in Bond's abandoned cab and gives Bond a ride back to the city. Several days later, while at a party being hosted by Lupe Lamora, Bond is seen in a brief phone conversation with Felix, who tells him that he's soon to be discharged from the hospital and informs Bond that M called, saying he may have a job for Bond (hinting that M wants him to return to 00 status.). After kissing Bond for all his help, Lupe suggests that he stay there with her, but Bond excuses himself when he sees Pam run off in tears after witnessing their kiss. He follows Pam to the swimming pool and jumps in the water, pulling her in with him. In the final scene, after they've kissed, Pam asks 'Why don't you wait until you're asked?' (echoing what he said in their first encounter after the fight at the Barrelhead Bar.) Bond replies with what she said at the time, 'Well, why don't you ask me?' and they continue kissing.

To obtain a PG-13 rating some scenes of Licence to Kill had been altered. This version was later on published on VHS as well and you couldn't find an uncensored version of this movie. Even the first DVD editions were cut and for years, only some LaserDisc releases were completely uncensored. With the Ultimate Edition reissues on DVD the uncut version finally made its way to DVD as well. A detailed comparison between both versions can be found here.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 4 months ago
Top 5 Contributors: !!!deleted!!! (2721437), hankeegle, beauclerc, bj_kuehl, Field78


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