MMM Commentary: Licence to Kill
Well, we have reached the end of our little journey into the long and exciting history of James Bond, in his many incarnations and guises. The film we have chosen to bow out on in our James Bond Marathon is Timothy Dalton’s second stab at the role, Licence to Kill.
After attending the wedding of friend CIA agent Felix Leiter and his bride Della Churchill, James disobeys orders and turns in his license to kill, when ruthless drug lord Franz Sanchez tortures Felix and leaves him for dead and kills Della.
James sets off on a personal vendetta against the drug lord, and arrives in Mexico City. Helped by the beautiful CIA agent and pilot Pam Bouvier, Sanchez’s sexy mistress Lupe Lamora and Bond’s friend and fellow quartermaster ‘Q’, Bond plays on both sides of the law, as he infiltrates his organization to bring Sanchez down. Where 007 embarks in the ultimate confrontation and he will not rest until he kills Sanchez and those responsible for torturing Felix and murdering Della.
Licence to Kill has often been cited as the least successful Bond film. Since its release, many authors, fans, and critics have debated the reasons for this; one of the chief reasons often reached is the increase in violence, which led to a 15 rating in Britain and a PG-13 rating in the United States; this was the first Bond film to receive a rating higher than PG in the US or UK, and all Bond films released after this – up to and including Casino Royale – would all be rated 12/12A(UK) and PG-13(US).
Another factor cited for Licence to Kill’s comparatively tepid box office performance is that it was released during one of the most profitable summers in film history, running against such films as Batman; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and;Lethal Weapon 2. All of these, particularly Batman, were big hits for their respective studios. No Bond film has been given a summer release since.
The MMM Team of Tony, Trevor, Geoff and David guide you through this underappreciated and oft-neglected addition to the Bond franchise.