Rewatched Jul 08, 2012
Steve Grzesiak’s review:
It seems to me, watching Licence To Kill, that there are so many things about it that should have made me dislike it - yet despite them, it hangs together better than any Bond film since The Spy Who Loved Me.
For instance, it's almost as if, from the outset, they had decided that this one is going to be more violent and adult and have a lot more swearing. It is, at times, pretty bracing and very forced and you do find yourself thinking, "Hang on. You can't say "bullshit" in a Bond film, this just isn't on!" Additionally, people get whacked in faces with shotgun barrels and graphically set on fire - and Carey Lowell shows a lot of leg. I mean, a LOT.
But after a while, you don't really notice a great deal. After all, if it was any other film you would hardly bat an eyelid. It does help matters that the film does develop really rather well as Bond loses his licence to kill as he pursues the international drag trafficker (Robert Davi) who almost did in Felix Leiter (it's David Hedison's turn this time) and succeeded in offing his new bride. Blimey, Bond and Leiter and getting married really is a recipe for success isn't it? Between them, they managed about 34 minutes of marriage.
This is clearly the best Bond cast put together to this point, though. Davi is excellent - smug, unflappable and not at all over the top, and a memorable lead Bond villain. Benicio Del Toro really deserves more screen time as the most memorable of his minions. Anthony Zerbe turns in one of his better villainous efforts, the great Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa also pops in but all too briefly with the same going for Everett McGill, while Talisa Soto smoulders nicely on secondary Bond girl duties. Even Wayne Newton makes an appearance and does okay for himself.
Lowell, however, is a revelation. A really top notch combination of humour, sex appeal, strong-headedness, a good handling of the action stuff, and some genuinely decent acting from her make her one of the very best Bond girls in history. Dalton, meanwhile, has settled in so comfortably that it now does seem a genuine shame that we saw no more of him in the role. His role in transforming the series back to more serious matters cannot be underestimated.
For me, easily one of the better Bonds - and one of the better Bond themes, too!