“Licence to Kill”
Bond: Timothy Dalton
Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: Cheese
This one is easy. If your movie has Wayne Newton in it? It’s cheese.
When Felix Leiter is tortured (and his new wife killed) by drug mogul Franz Sanchez, Bond goes rogue and infiltrates Sanchez’s organization in order to exact revenge. MI6 disavows him, and takes away his license to kill.
Doesn’t stop him for a second.
“Licence to Kill” was the second outing for Timothy Dalton as Bond. It has the same overall sort of “serious Bond” tone – there’s no tongue in cheek here as with the Moore films – in fact, if anything, they go overboard with the “Dark Tone”. The villain whips his girlfriend. Leiter gets fed to a shark. A henchman’s head explodes. That’s some heavy stuff…
But the cheese is there, too. Hell, Robert Davi alone should qualify the flick as cheestastic. But wait, there’s more! The villain sports an iguana. Bond parachutes in to a wedding (not his). He gets into a bar brawl. Felix Leiter can’t pronounce “Sanchez” LOL. I find the presence of a young Benecio Del Toro to be cheesy, and of course, Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas himself, has a prominent role.
Adding to the Cheese was Q’s longest outing ever. Even though Bond was rogue from MI6 at the time, Q shows up to give him gear anyways. He then sticks around and helps Bond out in the field! I’ve always suspected that Desmond Llewelyn’s extended appearance in this film was an attempt to appease Bond fans who were having trouble making the leap from Moore to Dalton (The Living Daylights was not very successful financially compared to its predecessors). So I’ve always felt as if they were basically saying, “we hear you, so… how about more Q?”
There are decent arguments to be made for all three classifications on this one I think, but I think I would be more prone to listen to points from the “Classic” camp than the “Crap” side of things.
To begin with, the stunt work and special effects in this film are incredible. Aside from multiple airborne stunts involving small engine aircraft, there’s a ski-less water skiing sequence and of course… the climactic “Tanker Chase”. I realize that there’s a certain amount of disagreement out there in Bond fandom as to this sequence (with the naysayers complaining its obnoxiously over the top), but I love it. I think its a great action sequence from back in the days when they still smashed real things up.
The crapsters will have their points as well, including the “dark tone”, two attractive, yet bland Bond Girls in Talisa Soto and Carey Lowell, and of course, Dalton – who I personally liked as Bond - but have to concede he’s not the series’ most popular actor by a longshot.
All said and done though, I get a lot of chuckles from various sources here, and I definitely enjoy watching it. In the upper half of Bond films for me.