Timothy Dalton's second and last James Bond assignment in Licence to Kill
is darker and harder-edged than anything from the Roger Moore years, dropping the sometimes excruciating in-jokes that had begun to dominate the series in favour of gritty, semi-realistic action. When CIA colleague and close friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison) gets married immediately after arresting villainous drug baron Franz Sanchez (with a little help from Bond), the crime lord's retribution is swift and terrible. Bond goes on a personal vendetta against Sanchez after his licence to kill is revoked. There are plenty of spectacular stunt scenes, of course, but the meaty story of revenge is this film's distinguishing feature. Dalton's portrayal of the iconic hero as tough but flawed was a brave decision that the producers subsequently retreated from after Licence to Kill
's relatively poor box-office showing.
On the DVD: Timothy Dalton's insistence that Bond was a man not a superhero, and "a tarnished man" at that encouraged the producers to redefine Bond with a tougher edge more in keeping with Fleming's original conception of the character. Licence to Kill is Bond's darkest assignment. The production team experienced their usual difficulties in bringing it to the screen, the "making-of" documentary reveals, including a haunted road in Mexico and a mysterious flaming hand that appeared out of the fire during the climactic tanker explosion. There are two commentaries here, both montage selections of interviews from cast and crew. The first features director John Glen and many of the actors; the second has producer Michael G Wilson and the production team. Gladys Knight pops up in the first music video, Patte La Belle in the second ("If You Asked Me To"). There are the usual trailers, gallery of stills and a feature on the Kenworth trucks specially adapted for the movie's stunt work. --Mark Walker
The second and final of Timothy Dalton's outings as James Bond sees 007 leave Her Majesty's Secret Sevice and branch out on his own. The trouble begins when drug baron Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) makes an unexpected appearance at the wedding of Felix Leiter (David Hedison), Bond's good friend, leaving the groom maimed and the bride dead. Bond has no choice but to seek his revenge and, with a little help from the obligatory 'Bond girl' (Carey Lowell) and the ever-present Q (Desmond Llewellyn), sets out after the villainous Sanchez. Causing a storm on its release because of its violence and dark plot, the film was originally given an 18 certificate before studio cuts.