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License to Kill (1989) artwork

License to Kill (1989)

25th March 2001

Bond quits the British secret service in order to avenge his best friend Felix Leiter who was seriously injured by an evil drug lord.
Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, Everett McGill, Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Starke, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Desmond Llewelyn, David Hedison
Action/Adventure, Crime
2
2 Hours 7 Minutes

Felix Leiter has spent many a day tracking the evil drug lord Franz Sanchez and when the US coastguard spot him they hastily interrupt Felix's wedding day plans. Abandoning the wedding motorcade Felix and, best man, Bond board a helicopter and head for an island where Sanchez's girlfriend has been hiding out with another lover. Sanchez is intensely jealous and protective of his girlfriend and with his guard down the DEA finally get their man.

Sanchez has many friends in many places and his language, money, usually communicates well. The DEA is no exception and during Sanchez's transportation to prison the van is hijacked and Sanchez rescued in a daring underwater mission. Unfortunately for Felix, his list of informers has been comprised and Sanchez gate crashes his honeymoon to claim revenge.

With Felix seriously injured and his wife raped and murdered at the hands of Sanchez's goons, Bond takes it upon himself to go after Sanchez and dish out his own brand of revenge. Unfortunately, this is in direct disobedience of the British government and he resigns from the secret service to continue his personal mission. With his license to kill revoked he teams up with the last remaining informant and together with his "uncle" he starts to bluff his way into Sanchez's organisation.

The picture actually starts out rather poor with some hideous scratches and dust marks on the film. However, this dramatically improves to give what is probably one of the best pictures on a bond film to date. Although the bit-rate remains on the low side throughout the film it remains bright and colourful with some excellent colour tones.

The sound is also much improved on some of the previous Bond films with plentiful use of the surround channels. The dialogue is clearly audible and remains firmly locked in the centre channel throughout the film. The music score, along with numerous other ambient effects, means that the rear channel is hardly ever idle. During the final scenes when there are explosions-a-plenty there are loads of LFE's to keep the sub amused.

The extras are up to the normal high standard for the Bond series, although the audio commentaries are yet another let down. I do wish John Glen could have given his usual excellent Audio Commentary rather than the disjoined affair here. I can't even comment on the second audio track as each time I selected it there was nothing to be heard.

The Making of Documentary is interesting with plenty of interviews with the main cast. There's also a number of other, tacky looking, documentaries made at the time. Mind you, they may look dated but at least one of them actually has some words from the interview shy Dalton. With the age of MTV upon us there's the now standard splattering of music videos with a powerful tune provided by Gladys Knight.

License to Kill is the sort of film that grows on you. I know when I originally saw the film I wasn't too impressed and was ready to write a scathing review. However, the film is actually not that bad and it certainly brings out the true Bond character created by Ian Fleming. The level of violence also resulted it in becoming the only Bond film to receive a 15 certificate in the UK to date. Consider this film like a bottle of wine - it improves with age.

  • Audio Commentary Featuring John Glenn and Actors
  • Audio Commentary by Producer Michael J. Wilson and Crew
  • "Inside License to Kill" Documentary
  • "License to Kill" Music Video by Gladys Knight
  • "If You Asked Me" Music Video by Pattie La Belle
  • Kenworth Truck Featurette
  • "Behind the Scenes" Featurette
  • Stills Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailers
  • Collectable "Making of" Booklet
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