JUMPCUT’S Favourites: License to Kill
Here at JUMPCUT we love to discuss all kinds of films, but nothing beats talking about your absolute all-time favourite! We asked our team to write a piece on their #1 film of all time to share with our readers and tell us just what makes it so great.
This is the first post of our series, which will be continuing over the next few weeks in-between our regular reviews and news posts.
License To Kill
Directed by: John Glen
Starring: Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto
In 2006, Daniel Craig arrived at the right time to re-invent James Bond as a more faithful interpretation of the darker secret agent that author Ian Fleming originally penned in 1953s ‘Casino Royale’. It was all about timing. 4 years after the fantasy mess of ‘Die Another Day’, Bond was in trouble and needed a drastic change which he certainly got. Critics heaped praise upon ‘Casino Royale’s story, cast, crew and our modern day 007, Daniel Craig.
But rewind the franchise back twenty years to 1986 and one Timothy Dalton did exactly the same thing taking over from the late, great Sir Roger Moore in ‘The Living Daylights’. But it is his second and final Bond film stands tallest. 1989’s ‘Licence To Kill’.
This is a truly excellent and refreshingly different 007 adventure, yet sadly seen as a being “too dark” as a Bond film, and many finding it hard to cope with a drastic transition of 2 very different actors. This just means the world wasn’t ready for the Fleming-esque qualities Dalton brilliantly brought to the role. It’s also sad that he bows out after just 2 films. But he does so in explosive fashion as James Bond seeks revenge with him operating outside of Her Majesty’s Secret Service and going rogue inside the heart of the drug operation fronted by the ruthless Franz Sanchez, played wonderfully by Robert Davi.
We are limited to the gadgets, one-liners and the flamboyance of super-villains and super-weapons. It’s a real-world threat of taking down a powerful drug baron and his cartel responsible for endangering the lives of millions without the need for destroying the world itself. We see the darker side to 007 as his world is turned upside down at the hands of Sanchez. The cast are grounded in their roles and not one feels out of place. Our Bond girl, Carey Lowell, is tough, resourceful and kicks as much ass as 007. It’s also nice to see David Hedison return as Felix Leiter, last seen in 1973s ‘Live And Let Die’.
This is a real dose of grown up action for the Bond series which never lets me down and boasts some of the most exciting and dangerous stunt work and action sequences in a 007 film, like the water-ski escape from the Florida Keys to the finale set around an explosive tanker truck chase down a winding mountain road. There is also a real sense of espionage to this which was often lost in previous films with lots of infiltration inside the criminal underworld, manipulation and working above the law to get the job done, just as you’d expect James Bond to do.
And as this was the first ever James Bond film I saw 23 years ago that I picked from the recorded video collection of some secret agent called James Bond that my late Grandad passed onto me, it holds a special place in my heart for that reason above all else.