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License to Kill video sleeve graphic License to Kill

Starring Timothy Dalton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

License to Kill is the second James Bond film in which Timothy Dalton played the title role. By the time it was produced the Cold War was pretty much over, so Soviet secret agents were no longer a credible threat for him to fight. Who else did that leave -- drug lords! "James Bond tells you Just Say No To Drugs." Bond meets Miami Vice.

The story begins as Bond is about to be best man at the wedding of his good friend Felix Leiter, who just happens to be a CIA agent working with the DEA. But a call comes in that they've cornered a notorious drug kingpin, so Bond and his friend go off to collar him and return successfully just in time for the wedding.

However the drug kingpin, Sanchez, then escapes and comes back to murder beautiful Della and feed her new husband to the sharks. When Bond is told to leave the matter to American law enforcement, he hands in his resignation, which means that his license to kill is revoked. He then goes on his own private vendetta against Sanchez, aided by a beautiful but very competent female pilot. And then Q shows up to provide him some top-of-the-line secret-agent gagetry, which helps him finally track down Sanchez.

The villain is now in the midst of a new scheme to join his Latin American drug empire with the Chinese tongs and Japanese yakuza to make the entire Pacific Rim a giant drug network, and to ship cocaine past customs dissolved in gasoline (however I do not believe that it could be filtered and reconstituted so easily as they showed in the movie).

At the end there is a dramatic fire in the "meditation center" that is his cover (I loved the phony guru and his TV show in which he asked for "pledges" of money and the sums were actually codes for the going prices of cocaine so that the druglords could keep up with the market) and a chase scene involving a number of tanker semis filled with cocaine-laden gasoline. In the end the villainous Sanchez meets a suitable fiery end and Bond returns home to England a hero.

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Review posted December 16, 1998

Updated March 30, 2001

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