Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Licence to Kill (1989)

"There's more to this than just your personal vendetta!"

Meh. After a good Bond film we get a very late '80s action thriller, all very War On Drugs and macho, very Arnie or Sly or Bruce but not awful, if pretty average for its type- and then James Bond is crowbarred into this genre he doesn't suit, and it all gets rather awkward.

Essentially, Bond is the best man at Felix Leiter's wedding, a drug lord has Leiter's bride murdered and leaves Leiter for dead, and Bond spends the film out for revenge, in spite of the official disapproval but unofficial help from Q, and even an unofficial "good luck" from M. The whole thing feels utterly out of character, which is a shame because Timothy Dalton is outstanding here. But the whole thing stinks of '80s antihero vigilantism and the sort of depressingly uncritical view of the WR on Drugs that you would expect from 1989. Still, Robert Davi is superbly menacing as Sanchez.

This isn't a bad film, per se; as a film of its type it's perfectly decent if not great. But as a Bond film it adds nothing to the character or the franchise. Vigilantism bad; law and order good. That goes right back to Aeschylus and Bond really should know better.

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