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Watch Licence to Kill (1989), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Sep 19, 2022
Watch Licence to Kill (1989), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Watch Licence to Kill (1989), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie


Licence to Kill (1989)

A vengeful James Bond goes rogue to infiltrate and take down the organization of a drug lord who has murdered his friend’s new wife and left him near death.

Licence to Kill is a 1989 spy film, the sixteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the second and final film to star Timothy Dalton in the role of the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Its story sees Bond being suspended from MI6 as he pursues drug lord Franz Sanchez, who has ordered an attack against Bond’s CIA friend Felix Leiter and the murder of Felix’s wife after their wedding.

Licence to Kill was the first film in the series to not use the title of an Ian Fleming story. Although its plotline is largely original, it contains elements of the Fleming novel Live and Let Die and the short story “The Hildebrand Rarity”, interwoven with a sabotage premise influenced by Akira Kurosawa’s film Yojimbo.

It was the fifth consecutive, and final, Bond film to be directed by John Glen, as well as the last to feature actors Robert Brown as M and Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny, and the final Bond film to utilise the services of screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, and producer Albert R. Broccoli (the final film as producer during his lifetime); Maibaum and Binder died in 1991, and Broccoli in 1996.

Originally titled Licence Revoked in line with the plot, the name was changed during post-production due to American test audiences associating the term with driver’s license.

Budgetary factors resulted in Licence to Kill becoming the first Bond film to be shot entirely outside the United Kingdom: principal photography took place on location in Mexico and the US, while interiors were filmed at Estudios Churubusco instead of Pinewood Studios.

The film earned over $156 million worldwide, and enjoyed a generally positive critical reception, with ample praise for the stunts, but attracted some criticism for its significantly darker tone than its predecessors, which carried into Dalton’s portrayal of the character.

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Licence to Kill (1989) Trailer

Licence to Kill (1989) Reviews

The James Bond movies have by now taken on the discipline of a sonnet or a kabuki drama: Every film follows the same story outline so rigidly that we can predict almost to the minute such obligatory developments as (1) the introduction of the villain’s specialized hit man; (2) the long shot that establishes the villain’s incredibly luxurious secret hideout; (3) the villain’s fatal invitation to Bond to spend the night; (4) the moment when the villain’s mistress falls for Bond; (5) the series of explosions destroying the secret fortress, and (6) the final spectacular stunt sequence.
Connoisseurs evaluate the elements in a Bond picture as if they were movements in a symphony, or courses in a meal. There are few surprises, and the changes are evolutionary, so that the latest Bond picture is recognizable as a successor to the first, “Dr. No,” in 1962. Within this framework of tradition, “Licence to Kill” nevertheless manages to spring some interesting surprises.One is that the Bond character, as played now for the second time by Timothy Dalton, has become less of a British icon and more of an international action hero. The second is that the tempo has been picked up, possibly in response to the escalating pace of the Rambo and Indiana Jones movies. The third is that the villain has fairly modest aims, for a change; he doesn’t want to rule the world, he only wants to be a cocaine billionaire.I’ve grown uneasy lately about the fashion of portraying drug smugglers in glamorous lifestyles; they’re viewed with some of the same glamor as gangsters were, in films of the 1930s. Sure, they die in the end, but they have a lot of fun in the meantime. In “Licence to Kill,” however, the use of a drug kingpin named Sanchez (Robert Davi) and his henchmen (Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae) is apparently part of an attempt to update the whole series and make it feel more contemporary.

There are still, of course, the obligatory scenes. The film begins with a sensationally unbelievable stunt sequence (Bond and friend lasso a plane, then parachute to a wedding ceremony). But then the action switches to the recognizable modern world in and around Key West, Fla., where the British agent finds himself involved in an operation to capture Sanchez and cut his pipeline of cocaine.

Like all Bond villains, Sanchez has unlimited resources and a beautiful mistress. His operation uses an underwater shark-nabbing company as its cover, and keeps a few sharks on hand so they can dine on federal agents. After Bond’s friend, Felix Leiter, is mistreated by the bad guys, 007 begins a savage vendetta against Sanchez, which involves elaborate and violent stunt sequences in the air, on land, and underwater.

He is aided in his campaign by the beautiful Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell, introduced as “Miss Kennedy, my executive secretary”), and saved more than once by Sanchez’ beautiful mistress, Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto). Both women are as beautiful as the historical Bond standard, but more modern – more competent, intelligent and capable, and not simply sex objects. This is no doubt part of the plan, announced before Dalton’s first Bond picture, to de-emphasize the character’s promiscuous sex life. Compared to his previous films, 007 is practically chaste this time.

My favorite moments in all the Bond pictures involve The Fallacy of the Talking Killer, in which the villain has Bond clearly in his power, and then, instead of killing him instantly, makes the mistake of talking just long enough for Bond to make a plan. The fallacy saves Bond’s life two or three times in this movie – especially once when all that Davi has to do is slice his neck.”Licence to Kill” ends, as all the Bond films do, with an extended chase and stunt sequence. This one involves some truly amazing stunt work, as three giant gasoline trucks speed down a twisting mountain road, while a helicopter and a light aircraft also join in the chase. There were moments when I was straining to spot the trickery, as a big semi-rig spun along tilted to one side, to miss a missile aimed by the bad guys. But the stunts all look convincing, and the effect of the closing sequence is exhilarating.On the basis of this second performance as Bond, Dalton can have the role as long as he enjoys it. He makes an effective Bond – lacking Sean Connery’s grace and humor, and Roger Moore’s suave self-mockery, but with a lean tension and a toughness that is possibly more contemporary. The major difference between Dalton and the earlier Bonds is that he seems to prefer action to sex. But then so do movie audiences, these days. “Licence to Kill” is one of the best of the recent Bonds.

  • Roger Ebert  –  Roger Ebert
  • Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Licence to Kill (1989) Credits

Licence To Kill movie poster

Licence To Kill (1989)

Rated PG-13

135 minutes


Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier

Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez

Anthony Zerbe as Milton Krest

Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora

Timothy Dalton as James Bond

Frank McRae as Sharkey

Music by

  • Michael Kamen

Screenplay by

  • Wilson
  • Richard Maibaum

Produced by

  • Michael G. Wilson
  • Albert R. Broccoli

Directed by

  • John Glen

Edited by

  • John Grover

Photography by

  • Alec Mills

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Licence to Kill (1989) Plot

DEA agents collect MI6 agent James Bond and his friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, on their way to Leiter’s wedding in Key West, to have them assist in capturing drugs lord Franz Sanchez. Bond and Leiter capture Sanchez by attaching a hook and cord to Sanchez’s plane and pulling it out of the air with a Coast Guard helicopter. Afterwards, Bond and Leiter parachute down to the church in time for the ceremony.

Sanchez bribes DEA agent Ed Killifer and escapes. Meanwhile, Sanchez’s henchman Dario and his crew ambush Leiter and his wife Della and take Leiter to an aquarium owned by one of Sanchez’s accomplices, Milton Krest. Sanchez has Leiter lowered into a tank holding a tiger shark.

When Bond learns that Sanchez has escaped, he returns to Leiter’s house to find that Leiter has been maimed and that Della has been murdered (and by implication raped). Bond, with Leiter’s friend Sharkey, start their own investigation. They discover a marine research centre run by Krest, where Sanchez has hidden cocaine and a submarine for smuggling.

After Bond kills Killifer using the same shark tank used for Leiter, M meets Bond in Key West’s Hemingway House and orders him to an assignment in Istanbul, Turkey. Bond resigns after turning down the assignment, but M suspends Bond instead and revokes his licence to kill. Bond becomes a rogue agent, although he later receives unauthorised assistance from Q.

Bond boards Krest’s ship Wavekrest and foils Sanchez’s latest drug shipment, stealing five million dollars in the process. He discovers that Sharkey has been killed by Sanchez’s henchmen. Bond meets and teams up with Pam Bouvier, a pilot and DEA informant, at a Bimini bar, and journeys with her to the Republic of Isthmus. He seeks Sanchez’s employment by posing as an assassin for hire. Two Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau officers foil Bond’s attempt to assassinate Sanchez and take him to an abandoned warehouse.

They are joined by Fallon, an MI6 agent who was sent by M to apprehend Bond. Sanchez’s men rescue him and kill the officers, believing them to be the assassins. Later, with the aid of Bouvier, Q, and Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe Lamora, Bond frames Krest by planting the $5 million in Wavekrest. Sanchez shuts Krest into a decompression chamber and cuts the oxygen cord, causing Krest to explosively decompress to his death. Bond is then admitted into the inner circle.

Sanchez takes Bond to his base, which is disguised as the headquarters of a religious cult. Bond learns that Sanchez’s scientists can dissolve cocaine in petrol and then sell it disguised as fuel to Asian drug dealers. The televangelist Joe Butcher serves as middleman, working under Sanchez’s business manager Truman-Lodge, who uses Butcher’s TV broadcasts to communicate with Sanchez’s customers in the United States.

During Sanchez’s presentation to potential Asian customers, Dario enters the room and recognises Bond. Bond starts a fire in the laboratory, but is captured again and placed on the conveyor belt that drops the brick-cocaine into a giant shredder. Bouvier arrives and shoots Dario, allowing Bond to pull Dario into the shredder, killing him.

Sanchez and most of the others flee as fire consumes his base, taking with him four tankers full of the cocaine and petrol mixture. Bond pursues them by plane, with Bouvier at the controls. During the course of a stunt-filled chase through the desert, Bond destroys three of the tankers and kills several of Sanchez’s men. Sanchez attacks Bond with a machete aboard the final remaining tanker, which crashes down a hillside.

A petrol-soaked Sanchez attempts to kill Bond with his machete. Bond then reveals his cigarette lighter—the Leiters’ gift for being the best man at their wedding—and sets Sanchez on fire. Sanchez stumbles into the wrecked tanker, causing a big explosion and killing himself. Bouvier arrives shortly afterward, and picks up Bond.

Later, a party is held at Sanchez’s former residence. Bond receives a call from Leiter telling him that M has congratulated him for his work and offers him his job back. He then rejects Lupe’s advances and romances Bouvier instead.

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Licence to Kill (1989) Box office

At the box office, Licence to Kill grossed $156.2 million ($373.3 million in 2022 dollars) on its budget of $32 million ($78.9 million in 2022 dollars), grossing an inflation-adjusted profit of $287.2 million, making it the twelfth biggest box-office draw of the year.[42][43][44] The film grossed a total of £7.5 million (£20 million in 2022 pounds[38]) in the United Kingdom,[45] making it the seventh-most successful film of the year,[46] despite the 15 certificate which cut down audience numbers.

In the US and Canada, it grossed $34.6 million,[48] making Licence to Kill the least financially successful James Bond film in the US, when accounting for inflation.[49] A factor suggested for the poor takings was fierce competition at the cinema, with Licence to Kill released alongside Lethal Weapon 2Ghostbusters IIIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade (starring former Bond Sean Connery), and Batman.[32] Other large international grosses include $14.2 million in Germany, $12.4 million in France, $8.8 million in Japan, $8.7 million in the Netherlands and $8.6 million in Sweden.[50]

Despite grossing more than 4.3 times its budget, Licence to Kill has made the lowest inflation-adjusted box-office return—as well as having the lowest profit margin—out of all 25 of the official Bond films as of 2022. Interestingly, the only other Bond movie with “Kill” in the title—A View To a Kill, which was also directed by John Glen—has the second-lowest inflation-adjusted return of any Bond movie. However, Licence to Kill‘s return ratio of 4.3 ranks it 18th out of the 25 official film entries from the series.


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Licence to Kill (1989) Critical Response

Opinion on Licence to Kill has changed with the passing of time: some reviews are still mixed, though film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes lists the film with a positive 77% rating from 53 reviews.[64] Tom Hibbert of Empire gives the film only two of a possible five stars, observing that “Dalton … is really quite hopeless”.[65] Hibbert concluded that “he may look the part, but Timothy Dalton fails the boots, the scuba gear, or the automobiles left him by Moore and Connery.”

In 2006, IGN ranked Licence to Kill fifteenth out of the then 21 Bond films, claiming it is “too grim and had strayed too far from the Bond formula.”[66] Norman Wilner of MSN considered Licence to Kill the second worst Bond film, above only A View to a Kill, but defended Dalton, saying he “got a raw deal. The actor who could have been the definitive 007 … had the bad luck to inherit the role just as the series was at its weakest, struggling to cope with its general creative decline and the end of the Cold War”.

In October 2008, Time Out re-issued a review of Licence to Kill and also thought that Dalton was unfortunate, saying: “one has to feel for Dalton, who was never given a fair shake by either of the films in which he appeared”.[68]

Celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film, Esquires Bob Sassone urged readers to give it a second look.[69] High-Def Digest awarded it four out of five stars when re-released on Blu-ray.[70] British GQ considers it the most underrated in the series, thinking the change in tone caused upset among fans.

Digital Spy called Dalton the best Bond of the six actors, praising his depth,[72] terming Licence to Kill a “violently enjoyable 007 detour”.[73] Far Out Magazine praised the originality of the storyline: “Licence to Kill holds one of the best scripts in the series, partially because it was inspired by Akira Kurosawa‘s liturgical Yojimbo, an essay on man’s malleability in the face of great greed.”[74]

Some critics, such as James Berardinelli, saw a fundamental weakness in the film: the “overemphasis on story may be a mistake, because there are times when Licence to Kills narrative bogs down.”[75] Berardinelli gave the film three out of a possible four stars, adding “Licence to Kill may be taut and gripping, but it’s not traditional Bond, and that, as much as any other reason, may explain the public’s rejection of this reasonably well-constructed picture.”

Raymond Benson, the author of nine Bond novels, said of the film: “It boggles my mind that Licence to Kill is so controversial. There’s really more of a true Ian Fleming story in that script than in most of the post-60s Bond movies.”[76] John Glen has said Licence to Kill “is among my best Bond films, if not the best”.


Licence to Kill (1989) Accolades


Licence to Kill (1989) Movie Info

James Bond (Timothy Dalton) takes on his most-daring adventure after he turns renegade and tracks down one of the international drug cartel’s most-brutal and powerful leaders. After the murder of his just-married friend, he is fighting not only for country and justice, but for personal revenge!

Watch Licence to Kill (1989)








Licence to Kill (1989) Pictures

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