Licence to Kill

Licence to KillSynopsis: James Bond turns renegade to hunt down a master criminal in this pulse-pounding thrill ride that’s packed with awesome stunts, subtle humor and explosive confrontations. Timothy Dalton brings urgency, charm and deadly determination to his portrayal of the superagent. Who leaves the British secret service and begins a fierce vendetta after his friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison) is brutally attacked by drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi).

***********************************************************************

Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

Licence to Kill

Date of viewing: December 18, 2013

1-
Opening sequence
The Thorn: 6.0 – I like the idea of Bond and Leiter disrupting Leiter’s wedding to do a last minute job, but the action has no oomph (not that it prevented Christopher Nolan from stealing the plane idea for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’) and the James Bond theme is lacking edge. The opening credits are lame, uninspired, as all get out and the theme song sucks so bad it’s beyond words.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Boring and irrelevant to the movie.

***

2-
Story
The Thorn: 7.0 – I like the basic premise, which is that Bond flies off the handle after his friends are assaulted by a crime lord and goes off to seek revenge. For the first time in a long time it makes it personal, makes Bond more human. And it’s grittier (it was the first PG-13 007 film). But it’s developed very poorly and lacks the punch it should have had.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Bond goes on a personal vendetta. Its interesting to see a little bit of Bond’s personal life and how he decide to embark on a personal mission. Unfortunately, the story involve less interesting characters…

***

3-
Banter
The Thorn: 6.5 – There isn’t much banter, and what there is falls flat. The worst is Sanchez’ poor jokes – he tries to be funny and fails miserably. Personally, I write it off as a character flaw, not as a writing flaw, because it’s consistent with his character. There is this one line by Q which I really love, though. It’s when he and Pam are introduced by Bond as his cousin and his uncle: “Ah, we must be related!”, he says. Ha! His delivery was perfect!
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Unfortunately the villain tries and fails to be funny. Fortunately, Bond is able to take advantage of the villain limited intelligence. The jealousy fight between the girls leads to some funny moments, but in the end its pretty childish.

***

4-
Villains
The Thorn: 6.5 – I love the actors and the characters and yet I can’t seem to enjoy the way they gelled together. Davi is perfectly creepy as Sanchez, but lacks the grandeur of previous Bond villains; he’s too “real”. As for Benicio del Toro’s Dario, he’s perfectly psychotic, but doesn’t feel credible. It was his second film appearance (he is the youngest Bond villain thus far), so he likely didn’t have his chops down yet. Oh well.
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Franz Sanchez is a dumb godfather wannabe. He says he value loyalty and yet everyone around him are trying to run away or are ready to betray him. The only cool thing about the villain is his pet iguana. Dario the henchmen is way more interesting: dangerous and a little loco.

***

5-
Bond Girls
The Thorn: 6.5 – It’s funny because both Carey Lowell and Talisa Soto are very beautiful women, and I very much like their characters (contextually-speaking), but both leave me indifferent: Lowell’s Bouvier wants to be tough, and that’s super commendable, but she comes off as a wannabe, and Soto simply can’t act herself out of bag, so her Lupe is never more than a cardboard character. At least there’s Priscilla Barnes as Della. Yum!
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Lupe Lamora is a cute but useless trophy wife. Pam Bouvier is also cute but has a horrible haircut. She supposedly plays a though independent pilot and yet keep nagging Bond in helping with his mission. She’s not a useless Bond girl, but not as independent as she claims to be.

***

6-
Gadgets
The Thorn: 6.0 – It’s strange, but the gadgets in this film are counter to the spirit of the picture, which is edgier; they, on the other hand, are cornier than in the last film. There’s plastic explosive toothpaste, a walkie-talkie broom, an exploding time clock, and a camera gun. The gun is the worst because it’s no more practical than Scaramanga’s was in ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’: it’s concealed as a professional camera, but comes in a case with a barrel, a sight, bullet cartridge, …etc. Um… thereby negating its disguise. Doh!
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Ugliest gadget: the camera rifle. Uglier than the man with the golden gun! Why cant Bond had the same sniper rifle he had in “The Living Daylights” instead!

***

7-
Vehicles
The Thorn: 5.0 – They’re mostly all very average: plain old cars, planes, jeeps, and 18-wheeler tankers (yes, you read THAT right!). It’s realistic, but dull.
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Lots of common vehicles.

***

8-
Locales
The Thorn: 6.0 – Here’s another way in which the film lacks inspiration: many of the locations are plain or déjà vu, with the main exception of the Olympiatec Meditation Institute, which is rather impressive from outside. Much of the film was shot in South America, as well as Florida, so you’d think they’d get some nice shots in. Alas: not so. And the sets are frankly terrible. It was originally meant to be shot in China, but production difficulties prevented it from happening. Too bad.
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – The most impressive is the “Olympatec Meditation Institute”.

***

9-
Stunts
The Thorn: 6.5 – Dalton continues to do much of his own stuntwork, which is nice, but none of it is really that notable: there’s waterskiing without skis, skydiving, jumping off of moving vehicles, …etc. And surely he had stuntmen for those bits to keep the insurance people at bay.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The stunts made with the semi trucks are impressive but obviously fake and useless.

***

10-
Soundtrack
The Thorn: 3.0 – There’s a severe misuse of the James Bond Theme here and the general orchestration sucked. I know that Michael Kamen was hot shit at the time, but he didn’t get it all, serving up a slick but generic score. Barry was terribly missed. And don’t get me started on the theme song. To make matters worse, the soundtrack LP mostly consists of pop songs – not of the score.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Ok but edited badly; music seems to play at the wrong moment.

***

11-
Best Bond moment
The Thorn: My favourite part is when the flaming truck flies off the cliff right past the Bouvier’s plane, barely missing it. It sounds meaningless, but it was one of the few moments where I felt excited and was impressed by what I saw; they really had to time that one – after all, there was no CGI back then.
The Horrible Dr. B: When bond infiltrate Sanchez’s casino and setup explosive in order to assassinate Sanchez. This setup is the only sequence in the movie that feels like a spy movie.

***

12-
Worst Bond moment
The Thorn: By far my worst moment is when Bond does a wheely with his tanker truck. Those things don’t bend, so it’s literally not possible for it to happen – it’s not even a question of skill and/or luck (unlike the stunt where the tanker is riding on its side). What were the filmmakers thinking? Did they think we were idiots? I remember how my heart sank when I saw it at the big screen back then.
The Horrible Dr. B: Bond trying to convince Pam and Q to leave him alone repeatedly throughout the story. How come Bond is able to defy dead, outsmart international villains, withstand torture but isn’t able to lose these 2 clowns?

***

13-
Overall impression
The Thorn: 6.5 – ‘Licence to Kill’ is commendable for wanting to make Bond more realistic, but it’s marred by weak writing and uninspired direction. And there are very few moment when anyone actually seems to be having fun – aside from Desmond Llewelyn who finally gets more screen time as Q (he’s one of the film’s only bright spots). It’s one of the least corny Bond movies, but also, ironically, one of the least exciting. Too bad it was Dalton’s last, because he should have been the best of the Bonds. Instead he got saddled with a flagging franchise.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The story starts well: the friendship that Bond has with Felix and Della feels very genuine. However we have to suffer the schemes of a dumb villain, and Bond has to endure Pam’s nagging. It’s sad but this ain’t the best Bond movie, and even Dalton phenomenal presence doesn’t save it. The movie feels too much american: lots of action but no brain.

James Bond Will Return inGoldenEye

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s