License to Kill is the darkest Bond film to date. Effectively earning the franchise its first PG-13 rating. Despite the often violent and sexual nature of the series, every previous Bond film was rated PG. Although retrospectively speaking, they would be considered PG-13. License to Kill is the sixteenth film in the long running franchise, and the first one not titled after a book by Ian Fleming. It refers to the license all 00 agents are issued as a member of MI6. Originally titled License Revoked, the title was changed because it sounded too much like a drivers license being suspended. The movie was written with Timothy Dalton’s grittier Bond in mind. For that, it was considered too violent for a Bond film. Depicting more realistic drug use, bloodier action, gruesome deaths, and an air of vengeance.
The Mission: Get revenge on a murderous drug dealer without the aid of MI6
Gadgets & Vehicles: Lighter, Laser Polaroid Camera, Dentonite Toothpaste, Cigarette Packet, Signature Rifle
Bond Girls: Pam Bouvier, Lupe Lamora
Bond Villains: Franz Sanchez, Milton Krest, Dario, Braun, Perez, Ed Killifer
Analysis: James Bond has always been an efficient killer, but License to Kill takes things to the next level. I was curious to see how far the new rating would take things. Since the late 80’s were still figuring out the PG-13 rating. Bond is extra brutal in his quest for revenge against the man who murdered Felix Leiter’s wife. Leiter himself is nearly maimed by sharks. This sends 007 over the edge. Where his blinding revenge gets so bad that M has his license to kill revoked until further notice. It’s not all dark though. The Opening credits sequence which contains casino images, has a main theme (sung by Gladys Knight) that is unusually upbeat. The same can’t be said for the main Bond villain. Robert Davi (the villain for The Goonies) plays Franz Sanchez. The ruthless drug lord responsible for the death of Leiter’s wife. He’s actually the first Bond villain to have an already fulfilled evil plan. His most memorable henchman is Dario. Played by a very young drugged up Benicio Del Toro. My favorite part of License to Kill is that they finally gave Q the attention he deserved. Q breaks protocol in order to assist 007 on his rogue mission. Of course he brings a case full of gadgets, but Bond doesn’t use much of them. Joining them on their mission is former Army pilot Pam Bouvier. The first lead Bond girl to have a pixie cut. A bit like You Only Live Twice, License to Kill features two lead Bond girls. Only instead of one being killed off, Bond has to choice between Pam and Lupe Lamora. Sanchez’s girlfriend who forms feelings for 007. Bond ultimately choices Pam in the end, because she was always by his side. Making it one of the better romances. It’s just the excessive violence that distracts from it. The most brutal deaths are Dario and Sanchez. Dario falls into a cocaine shredder and Sanchez is set on fire by Bond. Timothy Dalton was truly the coldest Bond yet, and due to a 6 year hiatus, this was his second and final time playing the spy. I can’t help but feel License to Kill would have worked better without the Bond moniker.
James Bond will return in GoldenEye