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Friday, September 2, 2011

License to Kill


Timothy Dalton's second and final outing as 007 holds up better than I remember from 20+ years ago. A much more realistic and personal adventure, Bond embarks on a vendetta against a Panamanian drug lord who feeds his old friend Felix Leiter to a shark and kills Leiter's bride (Priscilla Barnes from Three's Company). Bond's licence to kill is revoked by M so he goes rogue, yet inexplicably gets old man Q as a sidekick. (Q is "on holiday". Sure.) Q brings a satchel of bulky, goofy looking 80's style spy gadgets with him. The action involving Leiter being fed to fish and Bond's shoot out in a fish warehouse is a direct lift from the Ian Fleming novel "Live and Let Die." Dalton is effective as a serious and ruthless 007 but eyes roll when he's called upon to play Bond as a loverboy. Dalton trades Bond's charm for steely glints and humorless rasps. As the Bond Girls, Carey Lowell and Talisa Soto bring two continents worth of hotness but nary an ounce of acting ability between them. Some of their line readings are beyond embarrassing. Still, there's a cool cast of characters here including Robert Davi as the villainous Sanchez, a young Benicio Del Toro as his killer henchman (though Del Toro disappears for half the movie), Anthony Zerbe as a smarmy American businessman/smuggler, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as a Chinese secret agent, and Wayne Newton(!). A great truck chase action sequence closes the picture and the terrific song "License to Kill" by Gladys Knight opens it. Plus Bond gets ambushed by ninjas in Panama. No one expected that, least of all 007.