Silent J’s review published on Letterboxd :
Continuing my journey to see every single 007 film before the release of Skyfall, I just got finished watching the sixteenth Bond film, License to Kill which would mark the end to the Dalton Era.
While this film is a bit of a step down compared to it's predecessor, The Living Daylights, but it's Timothy Dalton's performance that is a huge step up. Timothy Dalton is just excellent as James Bond. He brings back the charisma and intensity that made his performance so amazing in the last film and kicks it up to 11. He's intense in his action scenes, charming in other scenes, and kicks major ass. Hell, this is the first Bond where you really got a feeling that Bond was a badass. Bond had always been awesome, but that look in Dalton's eyes made Bond a badass. It's really a shame that this was his last Bond film not only because of his excellent performance but because this is the intense, hard edged Bond Ian Fleming envisioned in his novel and is more faithful to those novels.
The main Bond villain Franz Sanchez played by Robert Davi. This Bond villain just did'nt work for me. He came of as nothing but a stereotypical drug smuggler. He did'nt do anything big to truly stand out from other Bond villains or any of the dozens of drug smugglers in cinema history. On top of that, he never struck me as a huge threat to James Bond and I never thought Bond was in any real danger. That's not to say he's a bad villain; just did'nt do much. Though, it's pretty cool seeing a young Benicio Del Toro play a henchman and for one of his earlier performances, he's not half bad.
The main Bond Girl is CIA informant Pam Bouvier played by Carey Lowell. Performance wise, not bad. As a character, Bouvier is a pretty good character and while she's not as memorable as Bond Girls, she's a joy to watch. She has convincing chemistry with Dalton and she has fun chemistry with Q, who gets more screen time in this than usual and since I love the character, I'm not complaining. Speaking of Bond's ally, Felix Leiter, played by David Hedison, has a bit of a bigger role in this but he's forgettable in this. I don't know if it's the actor playing him or how he's never been written properly until Casino Royale but he does'nt work very well here. Like past films, you never get a sense that Felix and Bond have this genuine friendship and when the stakes get higher, you forget Bond is doing this for Felix. If you ask anyone what they remember about this film, there's little chance they'll ever say Felix's name because Felix was never a memorable character until Casino Royale (and maybe in Never Say Never Again).
The film as a whole is a mixed bag. It kinda tries to hard to be gritty and violent. I'm all down for a gritty Bond, afterall it worked so well in The Living Daylights, but it feels like the filmmakers bloat this with so much grit and violence that they forgot to create a good memorable story. Still, you get some great and exciting action sequences and even some amazing music. Some of the best songs (specifically the opening) that the series has ever offered.
Still, in only two films Dalton still managed to leave an impression and a massive contribution to what was to come for future films. He gave Bond the look, the voice, and the prescence that felt like Fleming's Bond and I really wish the studio gave him just a few more films. With what little I've seen of him, he will be missed and I honestly think if he did more films, we'd be calling him one of the best actors to play the role. Next stop, The Brosnon Era...