Double O Countdown: Licence to Kill

The last of Timothy Dalton’s time as James Bond is a nice piece of revenge drama, that feels like an 80’s film starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Bond goes after the drug kingpin that mutilated his best friend and murdered his best friends wife. The British Secret Service takes a dim view of revenge and has basically disavowed Bond. The original title was to be “Licence Revoked” but someone at EON was afraid American audience would not know what revoked meant. 007 tracks down the kingpin and uses a seed of disloyalty to bring down his empire. The movie is filled with more violence and torture than the usual Bond film. This would never have been a movie that starred Roger Moore. Dalton’s more cold blooded and realistic take on Bond is a perfect match for this gritty story, with one of the best Bond villans ever, Franz Sanchez AKA Robert Davi.

This entry in the series is extremely spoiler heavy. Proceed with caution if you have not seen the film.

001  Another Plot Point from the Novel Live and Let Die, adds to a film with a different story.

Felix Leiter has been Bond’s CIA counterpart since the first Bond novel. In the movies he has been an underused character, but in this film, he gets a bigger role. Making a return to the part is David Hedison, who played Leiter in “Live and Let Die”. Temporarily assigned to the DEA, Felix is tortured by Sanchez using a shark and a pulley system.

His mangled body is returned to his home where James discovers his dead bride and finds a sarcastic note with a twisted pun attached to his barely surviving friend.

Finally, a dirty DEA agent, who took a two million dollar bribe is cornered by Bond in the same shark tank that his friend was subjected to. As he hangs over the tank, trying to make a deal with Bond, James tosses him the money and tells him to keep it, of course the suitcase full of cash causes the treacherous turncoat to fall to his doom.

002  Secondary Bad Guy gets what is coming to him.

As I said, the movie is full of sadistic moments, fortunately most of them are turned on the bad guys. Milton Krest, the diving company owner who is partners with Sanchez, is framed by Bond to appear as if he is trying to steal from his partner.

First he is tossed in the decompression chamber used for deep sea divers on his boat.

Sanchez turns up the pressure and then suddenly breaks off the safety valve, causing Krest to basically explode.

Then he tells his men to launder the money was was hidden there, and he does not mean simply run it through their dummy companies.

003  Action Scene from Act 2.

John Glen, who was the director for all of the Bond films made in the 1980s, knew his way around the action scenes. His Bond films are filled with great stunts and this film featured one of the best. Bond sneaks aboard the Wavekrest, the ship used to guide all the smuggling operations, and discovers a whole bunch of information. His companion is killed and he has to make a venge filled escape himself. As he fights Krest’s men under water, he shoots a spear-gun with a rope attached into the pontoon of a smugglers plane. It yanks him from their clutches and he performs a series of amazing stunts to get away.


He skies on the balls of his feet as he is dragged by the plane, and then whips around to grab onto the plane.

 Once the plane takes off the water, he has to get aboard still.

004  Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez

The Drug Kingpin Sanchez has basically bought himself a country to hide in, which renders him immune from extradition. Robert Davi plays Sanchez as a sadist with a smile. A smart guy who values loyalty, but who can be dragged down with suspicion.


He beats his cheating mistress with the tail of a stingray and has the heart of her lover cut out.

 He treats his pet iguana as well as most of the people who work for him, and he employs a sick murderer, played by a young Benicio DelToro, to do his dirty work.

Bond ingratiates himself into his camp and begins a campaign to take down the kingdom from the inside. Following the Godfather’s advice, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

005  Uncle Q

Q has been in almost all the Bond films before this, often supplying 007 in the field. Here he takes a much more paternalistic interest in James. Having been abandoned by the Secret Service, Bond is persona non grata , but Moneypenny tracks him down and sends Q to assist unofficially. Desmond Llewelyn gets to play spy a little and have a grad adventure with James and not just chastise him for ruining equipment.

A fun piece of extra business, maybe it is fan service, but you got to keep the fans happy, and it did that for me.

006  Revenge Death Number 3

Dario, Sanchez hired thug, recognizes Bond and blows his cover. Sanchez attempts to drop Bond into the grinder used to break up the bricks of heroin he is smuggling as liquid in gasoline.

Of course at the last minute Bond gets hooked on the conveyor belt and hangs over the grinder, Dario decides he needs to help Bond along.

Bond’s CIA Contract pilot and requisite Bond Girl comes along in time to shoot Dario and then Bond reverses their situations.

The result is a blood soaked ending, similar to the snow plow in “OHMSS”. I’m afraid I love it too much when the bad guys get the reward they deserve, This is the third villain to get his comeuppance on my list.

007  A Climax to a picture, that really is a climax.

Spoiler Warning

Bond pursues a caravan of gas trucks, loaded with liquefied heroin and mayhem results.

Taking over control of one truck, he manages to destroy or disable several others. Sanchez and his crew are alerted and wait for him with a stinger missile to end his plans. A clever piece of stunt driving defeats the aim of the stinger.

After dodging that bullet, the bad guys chase Bond but end up in a trail of fire, it is not hard to follow the trail of destruction Bond leaves at the end of a movie.

Their car flys off the road and just misses hitting the plane flown by Pam Bovier.

 At the bottom of a hill, the crashed truck that both Bond and Sanchez were on lays in ruins with gasoline poring on the ground. A soaked Sanchez raises his machete to do in Bond when 007 gets him to pause for just a second so he can explain why he has done all of this. He flashes a genuine Felix Lighter.

He flicks it engulfing Sanchez in flame.

Multiple explosions ensue.

James Bond Will return in: “Goldeneye”

2 thoughts on “Double O Countdown: Licence to Kill

  1. Really liked it from the first, but alarmed when it got castigated by so many. Ahead of its time, for sure, and I enjoy Dalton last even more today. Timothy should have been given a longer run.

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