Licence to Kill – Blu-ray Review


After the wise-cracking Bond played by Roger Moore in seven films, Timothy Dalton came off as rather grim in the role. The Living Daylights still had campy moments. How else can you explain Bond and his lady sledding in a cello case? Licence to Kill upped the stakes in tapping the harsh 007 found in Ian Flemings novels. This was the first Bond to get a PG-13 based on violence. The MI6 agent gets his license to kill yanked when he refuses to follow Ms orders. Hes a man without a country with a heart filled with revenge. This is not Octopussy 2.

Bond and CIA operative Felix Leiter (Voyage to the Bottom of the Seas David Hedison) get a last second tip that Latin American drug kingpin Franz Sanchez (Showgirls Robert Davi) is also in Key West. The two agents delay Felixs wedding to lasso Sanchezs plane from the sky. They think the case is closed enough for Felix to get safely hitched. However the amount of cash Sanchez offers to free him is too much to a certain government agent. The criminal makes a daring escape, but doesnt head straight home. Hes got a lesson to teach Felix and his bride. The honeymoon aftermath turns Bond into a monster. M wants him off the case because hes too personally involved. He resigns and goes independent.The top agent cant back off even when they deny him his government supplied weapons.

He hooks up with Pam Bouvier (Law and Orders Carey Lowell). Shes an pilot with agency connections. His connection inside Sanchezs organization is Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto). Shes his abused girlfriend. Shes not fond of the guy. Shes also not fond of his psychotic henchman (Benicio Del Toro). Bond heads down to the Republic of Isthmus to uncover Sanchezs power base. He gets his drug orders through phony donations to a televangelists show. How can he stop this man without any major firepower support from MI6? Hell do fine since hes James Bond. Plus he still has a friend on the inside.

Licence to Kill isnt one of the best loved Bond flicks. Rarely do you see it hyped during Bond marathons that focus on Sean Connery and Roger Moores output. The film does have several things going for it. Robert Davi is a much more formidable opponent than some of the weak actors passed off as super villains. Wayne Newton is super cheesy as the televangelist. He doesnt have to delve too deep inside himself to give a convincing performance as a perverted minister. David Hedison becomes the first actor to play Felix Leiter twice. He coined the word “pimpmobile” in Live and Let Die. He does a great job playing human chum. Fans of Q (Desmond Llewelyn) get to see more of him on this mission than his usual bit role in the lab. The final fight between Bond and Sanchez is especially brutal and humorless.

The film however is lacking in the script. Parts of the plot come off as improvised. While Bond seems serious, other characters are prone to quip. This isnt as gritty as they imagine themselves as being. Compared to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Licence to Kill is still a chipper romp.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. They 1080p brings out the grit in Daltons performance. Plus youll be amazed at the youthful appearance of Benicio Del Toro. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master and Dolby Surround. There are Spanish and French dubs in Dolby 5.1. The subtitles are in English, French, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin.

Audio Commentaries include two separate tracks that have been edited from various interviews. The first features Bond historian John Cork moderating comments by director John Glen, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, David Hedison, Benicio Del Toro, and Desmond Llewelyn. The second track has Cork hosting stories from Michael Wilson, cinematographer Alec Mills, production designer Peter Lamont, visual effects supervisor John Richardson, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould.

Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director John Glen (10:32) include Sharkey Arrives, Bond and Sharkey Follow Yacht, Bond in Hotel Room, Cash Transaction, Bond in Isthmus, “Bienvenidos Mis Amigos,” Bond Returns to Casino, Bond Captured by Hong Kong Narcotics Agents, and Boat Ride. Glen does his best to explain why certain moments were axed. Best excuse is his hatred of a hat Dalton wears on a boat scene. Its OO-Gilligan to the rescue. The transfers average 20 Mbps.

Bond ’89 (11:43) are interviews done on the set. They were shot on video. Robert Davi talks about Daltons pool skills.

On Set with John Glen (9:28) has Glen narrating video footage of the stunts being performed. He doesnt tell too many stories out of school.

On Location with Peter Lamont (5:23) has his home video from checking out buildings and beaches in Mexico. He narrates.

Ground Check with Corky Fornoff (4:45) is vintage video of the guys getting ready for the airplane stunts. Corky is so calm for a man whos a true daredevil.

Inside Licence to Kill: A Documentary (32:01) looks at this final Bond adventure for Dalton. They wanted to give him a harder edge. Oddly enough, this is what Michael Wilson discussed with Casino Royale..

Production Featurette (4:57) is the original behind the scenes special from 1989. Its got cheesy synth music. They push Robert Davi as the most ruthless villain of all time.

Kenworth Truck Stunt Film (9:31) has a breakdown of how they created special oil tanker trucks. There was a lot of science in this sequence. This is from 1989 so youll get plenty of cool 80s hair.

“Licence to Kill” Music Video Performed by Gladys Knight (4:27) has her in a tux with her hair pulled back. Its like an uncomfortable attempt to be Annie Lennox. Easy to hear why this isnt a song you hummed back in 1989 while playing Nintendo.

“If You Asked Me To” Music Video Performed by Patti LaBelle (4:02) has her singing with a lion mane stuck on her head. Its a soft pop track that will put your date to sleep.

Theatrical Trailers (3:14) has two previews asking how many times can a man leave us breathless. It shows the explosions and truck mayhem.

Image Database is stuffed with production photos. Theres also the abandoned artwork from when it was called Licence Revoked.

007 Mission Control allows you to see clips covering the topics of “007,” “Women,” “Allies,” “Villains,” “Mission Combat Manual,” “Q Branch” and “Exotic Locations.”

Licence to Kill wraps up Timothy Daltons time in the tuxedo with a rough film compared to the finesse of the Roger Moore era. He has a tough enough opponent in Robert Davi, but its not as gruff as advertised. The Blu-ray bonus features allow you to appreciate what Glen and Dalton were doing on their final Bond adventure. They really did mean to toughen up Bond. Most of the time it works. Whats must watch in high definition is Wayne Newtons hair.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and MGM present Licence to Kill. Directed by: John Glen. Starring: Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Carey Lowell and Wayne Newton. Written by: Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum. Running time: 133. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: May 12, 2009. Available at

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