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How does Licence to Kill stack up now?


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#1 AngusMcLean

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 09:11 PM

I just re-watched Licence to Kill last night, for the first time in several years.

 

Dalton has always been a favourite, mainly I think because I see him as rebooting the movie franchise from Moore's era. The movie has it all according to the formula-exotic locales, the girls, action, one liners etc. But does it still stack up 27 years later?

 

The fashion is definitely from the era-a main bad guy in a pink polo shirt! The action is good and typical Dalton; edgy, no soft options here, a real killer doing his job. The scene where he throws the suitcase of $2 million cash to the crooked DEA agent, and knocks him into the shark tank to get eaten reminded me of Moore's scene with the killer in FYEO, where he nudges the car over the edge of the cliff with a bit of a push. There is no doubt Dalton's Bond wanted to kill this guy and had no qualms about it.

 

The girls? Talisa Soto's character as the main bad guy's girlfriend who helps Bond out was pretty good, believable enough. Carey Lowell's character Pam Bouvier was a modern Bond girl-she could fly a plane, hold her own in a bar fight and handle a gun as good as the next guy. Some weak acting aside, she reminded me of Pussy Galore and Jinx.

 

The bad guys were great bad guys-Robert Davi and Anthony Zerbe nailed their roles. And cool to see Desmond Llewellyn as Q again, although it was a bit of a stretch to have him deployed in the field.

 

All in all, a pretty decent installment in the series, and a shame that Dalton didn't get to do another one.

 

What d'you reckon?

 



#2 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 10:16 PM

I just watched this the other day too in my Bond marathon.

 

One fashion statement that sticks out to me is Dalton's hair, it is so of the time like Connery in DAF or Brosnan in GE.

 

As for the characters Carey Lowell/Pam Bouvier was always charming to me, bless her heart and Wayne Newton as Professor Joe Butcher is hilarious. Robert Davi / Franz S├ínchez does a great job and I like when he kinda starts to lose control near the end, "Then I guess it's time to start cutting overhead." This guy seems like someone you want on your side but you have to walk around on egg shells to do so. Q's role in this IMO is a lot of fun, I laughed out loud when I saw him in that fake mustage. 

 

The action is great and fresh. Bond crashing that drug deal was one of the best action sequences in the series. I love it when he is water skiing and the Bond theme starts up. The ending action sequence seemed to also have been well thought out. 

 

I just love the ending credits song, "If you ask me to" probably even more then the title song. 

 

Still holds up to me.



#3 hoagy

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 12:53 AM

Can't summons the love for this film that so many folks on here describe.  I watched the films (and read all the Fleming novels) from the beginning, as they came out.  YOLT was distressing, though still fun. The Moore era started weakly, but hit its stride in the 3rd film (TSWLM), and then became too cartoon--ish, and buffoon-ish, but they reeled it in.  Oops, a bit overdone in that regard and then OP, like DAF, was grand fun with a mature, experienced Bond with whom the audience was very familiar and regarded very fondly.  It should have ended Moore's run, but one more:  VTAK and it was quite a letdown and it definitely was time for a new actor and bringing the films back to a hard edge.  TLD did not enjoy the anticipation of a new Bond that benefitted GE and CR, perhaps because they'd gone on just too long with Moore, and the series might have benefitted from an additional year off and build-up of audience anticipation.  But LTK was too much of another rogue-cop-vs-drug-lord film, a movie of the week in appearance.  The jealous Pam bit was absolutely ridiculous and childish.  Fine actors were wasted playing TV-movie-of-the-week villains.  This was not the first time this sort of villain-and-plot contributed to some blandness -- LALD suffered, too, from having a criminal who'd be prosecuted by US DEA presented, instead, as Bond's adversary. In this regard, it was yet another occasion of wondering, awash in disappointment:  "Don't the producers learn from their errors ???"  And then that was it.  No more Dalton as Bond.  It was quite a wasted opportunity.  They should have realized the story and villain were too familiar, far too ordinary and just pretended it had been made, and made, instead, what would have been Dalton's third, as his second.



#4 Hockey Mask

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 02:10 AM

It was bad then and keeps getting worse. That said, if it's on TV I'm still watching.

#5 billy007

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 06:18 AM

I attended the Daniel Craig/New Yorker interview last Friday. Meeting the man face to face and realizing again what he's done for the 007 role.

I still believe he owes something to T. Dalton's concept of going back to Fleming. I will repeat a previous post by stating that if Dalton had done a third movie he would have made it his own.  Like Sir Sean in GOLDFINGER, like Sir Roger in TSWLM, like PB in TWINE, like DC in SKYFALL.



#6 New Digs

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 08:32 PM

Very good film. Repeated viewings make it easy to forget how different it was at the time and how gripping the revenge angle was: every scene between Bond & Sanchez was electric. I think there was a lot of effort behind the camera amongst the key production team so it was a shame the film didn't do better business on release, particularly in the US. The tank chase is superb and a fitting end to John Glen's stellar contribution to the Bond series. 



#7 DaveBond21

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 06:44 AM

Amazing film and reached my Top 5 when I did a recent marathon. It has slowly crept up as the year's pass. It has a Shakespearian style plot, and some great stunts and Bond moments. Sanchez is one of the very best villains.

 

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#8 Professor Pi

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 12:00 PM

I haven't seen LTK in a long time, but have always defended it.  Yes, the fashion and haircuts are dated.  But if you filmed this script today--Latin American drug lords, corrupt politicians--it'd still be up to date.  Those stories could happen now.  And the action scenes are terrific.  The plot is quite logical too, especially if you read the novelisation explaining how Professor Joe Butcher sets the cocaine prices on his televangelist show while he's friggin' on TV!

 

But it really misses John Barry.  Kamen did a serviceable job, especially with the 9 minutes "Licence Revoked" track.  And the title track should have tied in to the plot and theme more.  How about a Gloria Estefan song for Miami and  Key West?  Gladys Knight?  She was uncomfortable with the lyrics.  Too bad we never heard the Eric Clapton theme.  Imagine if Sting and he collaborated as they did on "It's Probably Me" for Lethal Weapon? 

 

That summer, 007 was out Bonded by Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana's Last Crusade, and Batman.  But it's the only movie EON made that felt like a Fleming novel, from when he finds Felix and Della all the way right down to Bond's exhaustion at the end of the truck chase.  They didn't get close to that again until CR and QoS nearly two decades later.

 

There is also a lot of symbolism with fallen angels and dark vengeful angels in this movie ("You're dead."  Bond parachuting from the sky in the PTS, then rising from the depths to water ski and take over the cartel's plane, Pam saving him, and Bond jumping into the pool with her at the finale's end.)

 

And I want TWO more Dalton films, '91 and '93, not just a third!



#9 Tiin007

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 02:01 PM

Of all the films in the canon (barring perhaps GE), LTK is the one that has had the biggest turnaround in terms of my thoughts on it.

 

When I was younger, I had bunched LTK with LALD at the bottom of the barrel (LALD has remained there, now enjoying the company of TMWTGG). I found LTK to lack the Bond flair that basically every other entry provides. It wasn't the down-to-Earth villain which irked me (I've always loved Sanchez as a character), but some combination of the villain's scheme (or lack thereof), the cheap looking aesthetics, and a lack of real panache. It just didn't feel Bondian.

 

Now Licence To Kill probably sits just outside my top five Bond movies. Dalton is on fire (as is basically the rest of the cast), the plot is incredibly engaging, and the down-to-Earth aesthetics fit the film wonderfully. (In fact, had it looked less cheap and more Bondian, I'd probably rank the film lower.) There is a sense of realism to this film which, in my opinion, every other entry in the canon lacks. 

 

In fact, I'd love it if more Bond films were made in this vein (albeit without the revenge / rogue plot, which has since been used to death). A real thriller. And I think Craig would be perfect for this type of stripped back Bond film. 



#10 hilly

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 02:27 PM

It hasn't aged well. As others have mentioned, the fashions date it far more than most other Bond films. Kamen's score sounds suspiciously similar to his music for Lethal Weapon 2 (was he doing them simultaneously?) and it feels a little tired. John Glen was on his 5th Bond film by this stage and I think it shows. Aside from Sanchez, the characterisation is a bit dull and Talisa Soto is woeful as is the token Moneypenny scene which actually FEELS like a token scene. The fight scenes are lacklustre and the bad guys are faceless and bland.  Even the title sequence is uninspired.Everyone, bar Dalton and Davi just seems to be going through the motions a bit

 

Having said all that, the story is engaging and the tanker chase is one of the best sequences in the entire series. Desmond Llewellyn is given an opportunity to play a more active role and really rises to the occasion. EON should have had more credit in 1989 for trying something new. Maybe a change of director after The Living Daylights would have completed that fresh perspective.

Although it felt like an eternity, I think Bond, rather like Doctor Who, which was cancelled the same year, really benefited from having a rest for a few years..


Edited by hilly, 20 October 2016 - 02:54 PM.


#11 thecasinoroyale

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 08:26 AM

This will always be my favourite 007 movie. The first Bond film I ever saw and my first Bond in the guise of Timothy Dalton.

 

I love how it's still Bond, but Bond on the edge. Everything about the series that makes it good is there; great locations, a wonderfully dangerous villain, spunky Bond girls and some dangerous gadgets. But for me it's the action, story and Bond himself that make this a winner. From the gun-barrel sequence to the tanker truck chase, it's a very real Bond and so dangerous.

 

Dalton is perfect as a rogue secret agent but doing it right; not broody and emotionally attached as Craig's Bond, but with more precision to do wider damage than just kill the man responsible. 

 

I can't fault it; it's just my perfect Bond film. :)



#12 sharpshooter

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 02:45 PM

I think LTK is great, and it still holds up to this day. All the movies are going to reflect the era in which they were made anyway, so that's not a problem for me whatsoever.

#13 Tiin007

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 04:02 PM

I actually like the fact that each Bond film is representative of the era in which it was made-- both stylistically and tonally. I think it adds variety to the series, and means there will probably be at least one Bond movie I'm in the mood for at any given time. 



#14 Dustin

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 04:25 PM

I recently caught LTK on the telly. For me it marks the end of what I privately consider the 'classic' days of the series, with nothing else supporting the sentiment other than my personal feelings about it. For me, everything that came after feels significantly different.

The really odd thing is, I seem to remember LTK to me had an air of farewell about it even back then, when I had no earthly reason to believe the return of James Bond would take much longer than just 24 months.

I always had a soft spot for the film, but watching it today I can't help feeling like looking at a surrealist painting. Several things stick out like a sore thumb, the weird slo-mo attack in the pts, the temple scenes that should have been magnificent but hardly have any atmosphere, the lack of a proper scheme for the villain, the TV auction that to me comes across cheap and unexciting, the strange phone conversation at the end...

And still, it's one of the Bond films I nearly always watch from beginning to end. Contrast to this for example TND, a film I mostly watch in slices. Does it hold up? Well, LTK still entertains, in spite of its weaker parts. That's all I really ask for and not all Bond films manage to do this.

#15 plankattack

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 12:45 AM

And still, it's one of the Bond films I nearly always watch from beginning to end. Contrast to this for example TND, a film I mostly watch in slices. Does it hold up? Well, LTK still entertains, in spite of its weaker parts. That's all I really ask for and not all Bond films manage to do this.


Agreed - it is a film that, as it has aged, has highlighted that it is sort of all over the place. But as a fan of the film, I prefer to dwell on what I love about it. The tanker climax is one of the best in the series, I find Davi's portrayal of Sanchez far more compelling than any of the previous half-dozen plus villains; and at the centre of it all TD's Bond. I favour his second performance over his debut, though I'll admit, TLD slots more neatly into the EON canon.

And to Dustin's point, it moves and holds the attention in a way that the half-dozen films either side of it do not (maybe GE excepted). As a marker of 80s Bond and the end of EON version 1.0, I get why so many are averse to it, but as a forerunner of what we have now, it has a value that perspective provides it.

No, it's not the classic that I wished it was, but as a Bond that showed moments of trying to be more than just another entry, it deserves a tad more respect than it seems to get.

#16 Major Tallon

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 02:12 AM

Agree, plankattack, well said.



#17 Navy007Fan

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 04:40 PM

LTK is one of my favorite Bond films not only for the film itself, but for the memories it evokes.  That summer, I graduated from Ohio State, received my commission as a newly minted U.S. Navy Ensign, bought my first car, attended my first navy school at the summer tourist mecca of Newport, Rhode Island, and made several life long friends.  LTK was part of that summer as I drove around listening to the film's soundtrack on cassette (yes I am old) as I enjoyed an amazing New England summer.



#18 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 11:45 PM

LTK is the end of the classic Bond, version 1.0 or Chubby's Bond. PB is like version 1.1 and Craig 2.0. 

 

So I'm not the only one who thinks that phone call at the end with Felix is strangely positive for a guy who lost his wife and leg?...



#19 hilly

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 10:39 AM

 

"So I'm not the only one who thinks that phone call at the end with Felix is strangely positive for a guy who lost his wife and leg?..."

 

Agreed. To me it is as corny as the KGB, MI6 and the Taliban all turning up at the concert recital at the end of The Living Daylights



#20 Major Tallon

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 11:25 AM

I have a different opinion.  They needed to do something with Leiter at the end of the film, not just forget about him, and did we really want to see him in tears, morose and depressed beyond belief?  Wouldn't that have been a great way to end the movie?  Instead, we're given a Leiter who's intent on going forward, getting his life back after a tragedy, making the best of his circumstances.  Sure, all of that could have been developed more, but they were making a movie about Bond, not about Leiter, so they gave us a little snippet about Leiter's attitude and moved on with Bond.  I don't find it jarring, and I don't fault them nearly as harshly as most fans do.



#21 Pierceuhhh

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 05:46 PM

The whole movie has the panache and atmosphere of an Unsolved Mysteries or America's Most Wanted reeneactment. Soto, Hedison and Lowell are dreadful beyond measure. The whole thing drags and induces the mother of all headaches. Bottom tier Bond.

You've got Dalton, Del Toro and an incredible tanker chase that belongs in a wittier movie, but otherwise it's a dispiriting washout.

#22 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 05:59 PM

 

 

 

"So I'm not the only one who thinks that phone call at the end with Felix is strangely positive for a guy who lost his wife and leg?..."

 

Agreed. To me it is as corny as the KGB, MI6 and the Taliban all turning up at the concert recital at the end of The Living Daylights

 

I actually always thought that was hilarious, 'Sorry we're late, we had trouble at the airport.' Then M says, "Couldn't imagine why."


#23 Tiin007

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 02:03 AM

 

 

 

 

"So I'm not the only one who thinks that phone call at the end with Felix is strangely positive for a guy who lost his wife and leg?..."

 

Agreed. To me it is as corny as the KGB, MI6 and the Taliban all turning up at the concert recital at the end of The Living Daylights

 

I actually always thought that was hilarious, 'Sorry we're late, we had trouble at the airport.' Then M says, "Couldn't imagine why."

 

 

One of the funniest lines in the series. Such a line would never make it into a Bond film nowadays (although that's not necessarily a bad thing, considering that many of Bond's actions in the 60s would rightly qualify as sexual assault in this day and age). 



#24 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 05:33 AM

 

 

 

 

 

"So I'm not the only one who thinks that phone call at the end with Felix is strangely positive for a guy who lost his wife and leg?..."

 

Agreed. To me it is as corny as the KGB, MI6 and the Taliban all turning up at the concert recital at the end of The Living Daylights

 

I actually always thought that was hilarious, 'Sorry we're late, we had trouble at the airport.' Then M says, "Couldn't imagine why."

 

 

One of the funniest lines in the series. Such a line would never make it into a Bond film nowadays (although that's not necessarily a bad thing, considering that many of Bond's actions in the 60s would rightly qualify as sexual assault in this day and age). 

 

 

Now and days Bond wouldn't be friends with the Taliban that is for sure. 

 

I've wondered if the reboot was a result of EON wanting to separate themselves from the 'sexism' or what not of the early films. Personally the only relationship that comes to mind that Bond sexually harasses is the poor woman from Thunderball who sleeps with Bond to keep him from getting her fired. Even then I feel a bit of remorse for Bond because he was almost killed. Besides that and Bond steeling Solitaire's powers, I never had a problem with Bond's treatment of woman. I hope that does not make people think less of me but I just don't see it. I suppose the names are the worst part. 



#25 hilly

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 08:03 AM

 

 


 

I've wondered if the reboot was a result of EON wanting to separate themselves from the 'sexism' or what not of the early films.

 

Hmmm. Quite a few eyebrows were raised over his treatment of Severine in Skyfall. After identifying her as being exploited by the sex trade in her youth, he promptly sleeps with her in order to get to Silva.



#26 sharpshooter

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 09:30 AM

Bond is a cold man. Always has been.

#27 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 11:15 AM

Even that, what he did to Severine doesn't bug me. 

 

"My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?"



#28 sharpshooter

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 11:52 AM

I think his reaction to Silva killing Severine is perfect, too. Being flippant about death is his armour, as Vesper would say. He probably cares to some extent but doesn't let his enemies see him bleed.

#29 David_M

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 06:58 PM

My overall impression of LTK at the time was that it was low-budget.  From Bond's off-the-rack wardrobe to Kamen's lackluster score, the down-to-earth plot, Glen's workmanlike direction, one guy's "death by a drawer full of cold, cooked pasta" and the almost complete lack of marketing here in the states, it just felt like "Bond on the cheap."  It was the first Bond I ever relegated to "also-ran" status when listing the event movies of its year.

 

I think the film suffers from being too derivative of the glut of "revenge" and "drug war" movies of the era, as typified by Steven Segal (it even has a three-word title like every Segal film).  And while Dalton does "lethal and angry" better than any Bond actor, that's still not what I crave in a Bond film.  Guys like Segal and Chuck Norris are perfect for testosterone-driven alpha-male fantasy films, but couldn't fake sophistication and class on a bet.  Bond, on the flip side, oozes class but is ill-suited to the "gorilla with a machine gun" genre.  If I want to see a guy getting sweaty and dirty and spattered with his enemies' blood, I'll go somewhere other than a 007 film. (They try to have it both ways when Sanchez says he "knew" Bond was a British agent because "you have class."  What he based that judgement on, I couldn't say.  Also, this almost counts as a "meta" reference.  Why would anyone imagine a British spy should necessarily have class, unless they'd seen a Bond movie?)

 

On the plus side, I love the "farewell to arms" scene.  I'm a sucker for any scene with tension between Bond and M.  We got some great ones with Dalton, plus a couple with Laz and at least one, for a second or two, with Connery, but this one's arguably the best. And for all my griping about "revenge" and bloodlust, Bond's murder of Killifer is awesome, especially when Sharkey looks away but Bond keeps looking, with an expression that says, "Hmm...rough way to go.  But not rough enough."  The stunt work is uniformly great and it helps that Dalton did as many of his own stunts as they'd let him (and a couple they didn't want him to!). Also, even if this plot doesn't fit my preferred approach to Bond, I have to admit it does at least have a real sense of momentum and occasional suspense, which is more than I can say about a lot of entries in the series.  Sanchez is a strong villain and Davi makes him genuinely scary at points.  His demise is one of the better in the series, with the "poetic justice" of the (Felix) lighter thrown in.

 

My wife enjoyed it a lot better than I did, I gather because it largely chucked the formula, moved quickly and made the stakes very human and relatable.  She was alternately bored with and exasperated by a lot of the earlier Bonds. At the time, I saw it as the beginning of a shift to a new approach to the series, and I was okay with that if my wife was an example of the new audience it might bring in.  As it turned out, we instead got a 6-year hiatus and then an overly cautious, 4-film retreat to formula that made me appreciate LTK's risk-taking much more.

 

Overall, entertaining enough, but usually not one I choose to pop in the player.



#30 Dustin

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 07:33 PM

Very relatable summary there, especially with regard to the violence and the Norris/Segal sub genre.

I found it interesting that the producers - at the time of LALD - took a look at a Jamaican sugar cane mill as a possible setting for some action scenes where Kananga throws Bond into the works. When Cain and Hamilton took a look at such a real device they decided it was too big and dangerous a set for use in their film; probably also because you had to use at least a degree of gore there. From what I gather the cocaine cruncher in LTK must have been pretty close to just this thing - and its only good use was of course just that degree of gore. It's not the most blatant example of violence-for-violence's-sake, but it's an indicator the film sidestepped into territory that wasn't by definition its natural habitat.