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LICENCE TO KILL: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
James Bondís (Timothy Dalton) good friend and CIA connection Felix Leiter (David Hedison) is thrown to the sharks on his wedding day by drug kingpin Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), who has also murdered Leiter's bride. This time it's personal and despite being ordered to stop his personal vendetta and being stripped of his licence to kill by M (Robert Brown), Bond turns rogue and pursues Sanchez on his own.

Of all the Bond films Licence To Kill is the most fascinating. It's the only one that failed to make a profit on its initial release, it marked the second and final appearance of Timothy Dalton as 007 and was the last of five films in the franchise directed by John Glen.

For my money this is also the best post-Connery Bond film because it's the closest the series ever came to capturing the character as written by Ian Fleming. There's a brooding, ruthless quality to Bond in this film that opens with his good friend and CIA connection Felix Leiter (David Hedison) being thrown to the sharks on his wedding day by drug kingpin Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), who has also murdered Leiter's bride. This time it's personal and despite being ordered to stop his personal vendetta and being stripped of his licence to kill by M (Robert Brown), Bond turns rogue and pursues Sanchez on his own.

There's little comic flippancy and only perfunctory bedroom encounters as Bond's obsession with vengeance finds him infiltrating Sanchez's headquarters with the help of American agent Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). In their place is a steely resolve and a previously hidden sadistic side to the character as he dispatches human obstacles on his way to the big prize. He has worthy villains in the form of Davi and a young and very sinister Benicio Del Toro as his henchman Dario. There's also a fanciful yet somehow believable sub-plot involving a Christian televangelist played by Wayne Newton (!) and some breathtaking action that climaxes in a truly awesome showpiece featuring petrol tankers and guided missiles. This also makes the best use of gadget man Q (Desmond Llewellyn) in any Bond film - he's in it all the way and is great company.

Despite all these terrific elements audiences didn't go for this tougher approach at the time and many probably still won't - but if you want to see a down and dirty 007, here it is. The supplementary material is outstanding and John Glen has every right to lament the fact that his best effort didn't click at the box office. The writing was on the wall from the beginning when the film's title was changed from Licence Revoked because it was felt that not enough Americans knew what revoked meant. Sad but true, viewers.
Richard Kuipers

Published July 5, 2001

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LICENCE TO KILL (M)
U.K. (1989)

CAST: Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Cary Lowell, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe,
Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, David Hedison, Desmond LLewellyn.
DIRECTOR: John Glen
RUNNING TIME: 127 min

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: May 2, 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES: Widescreen 2.35:1, Audio Commentary by John Glen and Producer Michael G. Wilson, "Inside License To Kill" Documentary, Behind the Scenes Stunt Featurette, Stills Gallery, Theatrical Trailers, Music Videos: "License To Kill" by Gladys Knight, "If You Wanted Me To" by Patti Labelle, "Making Of" Booklet. Language: English. Subtitles: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Hungarian, English (H.O.H.)






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