Regular James Bond screenwriters Richard Maibum and Michael G Wilson (also co-producer) along with director John Glen were not really doing any favors for Timothy Dalton with his 2nd and final outing as 007, with “License To Kill.” The story was a huge departure from what Bond audiences are accustomed to where the super spy goes rogue in the Florida Keys and Cuba, to seek vengeance against a Columbian drug lord named Sanchez (Robert Davi). The problem is this is all beneath Bond. James Bond prevents world domination, not drug trafficking.
Okay. So the story doesn’t hold much water. Dalton’s role is not written very well either. His prior entry in the series established him as a tougher Bond with less sarcastic wit but certainly a man of culture and sophistication. This one takes out all the sarcasm. Dalton doesn’t even seem to wear his tuxedo very well here. He just isn’t carrying the Bond stature. There’s not much left to the guy.
The ladies are lacking, too. Carey Lowell (eventual “Law & Order” attorney) is a tough talking CIA operative lacking any sort of romance or chemistry with Dalton. At times, though they might share the same frame, they could have easily been acting in separate rooms. Dalton and Lowell never seem to be listening to one another.
Talisa Soto is Sanchez’ mistress. She’s positively beautiful and exotic like many Bond women before her, but like Lowell she doesn’t appear to really be acting the story. At one point, she tells Lowell “I love James.” I’m trying to figure when the seduction actually occurred though. A movie can’t just tell me that. A movie has to show me that.
Davi is quite vicious as a villain and “License To Kill” features one of the cruelest deaths in the entire series when Sanchez forces a traitorous drug runner into a de pressurizing chamber. Yeah. We are treated to a gory, fun inflatable head explosion. As vicious as Sanchez is, his character seems more appropriate for a “Lethal Weapon” or “Die Hard” film. Sanchez just doesn’t mesh well in the James Bond universe. Nor does Wayne Newton, actually. Yeah he’s here too believe it or not, as drug cover front messenger posing as a televangelist. Who wants to see Wayne Newton, and how is this funny or entertaining?
The big attraction is a tanker truck chase along a desert road. Big explosions here along with fights on top of the moving rigs. It’s fun but nothing great.
Nothing is at the top of its game with “License To Kill.” That’s a major problem for a relatively new actor taking on such a celebrated role. Primarily, since the story is so weak, it’s hard to accept Timothy Dalton and I think that lent to his end with the franchise after just two entries. Yes. There were known financial issues mired in studio buyouts and bankruptcy leading to Bond taking a near six year hiatus following this lackluster film, but as soon as “License To Kill” finished its tenure in cinemas, I don’t think anyone truly missed Timothy Dalton.