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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Timothy Dalton
Carey Lowell
Robert Davi
Talisa Soto.
Directors
John Glen.
Screenwriters
Richard Maibaum
Michael G Wilson.
Running Time
133 minutes

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Licence to Kill
Bond is back with a clean-cut makeover. More than can be said of his new nemesis...


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Plot
James Bond (Dalton), ignoring the pleas of M, Q, and every other letter at Her Majesty's Secret Service, seeks out greasy tyrant Franz Sanchez (Davi) after he feeds Bond's mate to some killer sharks.


Review
In the closing credits, betwixt cast and gaffers, we are cautioned: "As tobacco products are used in this film, the producers wish to remind the audience of the Surgeon General's Warning: Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy." Oh, dear, the fussbudget times we live in. Strangely, the producers do not see fit to add that falling out of aeroplanes, driving juggernauts over cliffs, swimming with killer sharks and shooting guns are quite dangerous pursuits, too. The "snout" warning serves notice, however, that James Bond has been brought "up to date" and the 60s fantasy figure—with his amoral, cynical approach to women and human life—has been remodelled to fit the caring, sharing 90s (or 1989, anyway).

Even the villains have been watered down. No Jaws, no gloriously mad Gert Frobe as Goldfinger, no loony Donald Pleasence, just Robert Davi as Sanchez. If he didn't have an iguana on his shoulder and a very bad complexion, there would be nothing much to tell us that Sanchez is an evil person at all: compared with the villains of old, Sanchez is, well, quite normal and not a proper sadist. When he feeds Bond's old chum Felix to the sharks, Felix lives to tell the tale, and when he depressurises a turncoat (Anthony Zerbe), he doesn't even pull a wicked grin as his friend explodes. Useless, really.

Some of the "style" of the 007 of old does, however, remain: there are corny, retrograde opening credits, there's the inevitable underwater frogman sequence ("directed and photographed by Ramon Bravo" — bravo!) where it's impossible to follow what on earth is going on and, of course, there's amiable secret service boffin Q (Desmond Llewelyn) who has, this time, invented some killer toothpaste (how, though, are you supposed to persuade an enemy to brush his teeth when you're attempting to do him in?). And there is Timothy Dalton who is really quite hopeless. Where Sean Connery was gruff, sardonic and oversexed and Roger Moore was sort of a ridiculous hoot, Dalton is, frankly, wood. Plant him in an Amazonian rain forest and watch the world climate perk up miraculously. He looks abashed delivering the J. Bond-styled one-liner chucklers— "Looks like he came to a dead end," he says stumbling upon a dead body. What a creep — embarrassed kissing the girls and thoroughly out of sorts when it comes to being violent with knife or gun. Timothy Dalton is James Bond. And James Bond is an utter bore. Time to turn the licence in.


Verdict
He may look the part, but Timothy Dalton fails the boots, the scuba gear, or the automobiles left him by Moore and Connery.


Reviewed by Tom Hibbert

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Licence to Kill
Empire Star Rating

Time to re-evaluate this re-evaluation

When LTK came out in 1989, the newly-published Empire Magazine, in one of it's first editions gave it a positive review describing it as the best Bond Movie since Diamonds are Forever. It is disappointing (and somewhat undermines the site) that Empireonline did not use the originally-published review in this case. What we have instead is an undated review that was clearly written at some point after the movie came out, but perhaps not sufficiently distance to be a bonfide re-evaluation. LTK ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kaymoor at 17:56, 17 October 2012 | Report This Post


1 of the best bond films

empire your wrong has the reviewer even watched this film? dalton not only adds depth to bond he makes him dangerous tough everything that moore wasnt and yet not a robot he brings back the feeling that bond should never have lost and thats your just not sure just what this guy can do! also this film isnt about the one liners the daft jokes and clever gadgets like the predecessors its a thiller though and though and helped by davi's dark /interesting but real performance this film will become m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 03:47, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post


1 of the best bond films

empire your wrong has the reviewer even watched this film? dalton not only adds depth to bond he makes him dangerous tough everything that moore wasnt and yet not a robot he brings back the feeling that bond should never have lost and thats your just not sure just what this guy can do! also this film isnt about the one liners the daft jokes and clever gadgets like the predecessors its a thiller though and though and helped by davi's dark /interesting but real performance this film will become m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 03:47, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post


one of the BEST bond films

this is one of the best bond films i ever saw like Casino Royale it gives james bond some drama not just the usual chases and stuff Dalton was just as tough as daniel craig he has real menace on screen benicio del toro was almost too evil looking to play a bond villain he was very creepy frank mcrae was a pleasure to watch as always when i look at him i always think of 48 hrs ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 19:01, 14 August 2011 | Report This Post


Wrong again.

This is one of bonds finest hours, casino royal was greeted with much acclaim for showing the gritty harder edged bond yet those people seem to forget this little gem, in my opinion daltons 2 movies are better films then craigs -, the reason been, although daltons are serious, you still know your watching a bond film, the same cant be said for daniel craigs portrayal of james bourne - sorry,bond. ... More

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Posted by paulandnic14 at 22:37, 01 February 2010 | Report This Post


Casino Roayle- The Early Years?

I think this is the perfect template for the gritty, realistic, character-driven Craig Bonds. This idiotic reviewer is obviously a fan of 'Moonraker' and 'You only live twice', with over-the-top villians, ridiculously but grand set-pieces, further from the books than ever. This, For your Eyes Only and Casino Royale are the best bonds in my opinion, because they are more enjoyable, adrenaline-fueled escapism, and sanchez is a great, cold villain. Not useless. Just Cold ... More

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Posted by Doctor Batman at 15:12, 11 October 2008 | Report This Post


Tim Hibbert Should be sacked!

His review is comlpete nonsense! Having read it I cannot respect or believe any ither review he will ever give. He is underining the good name of th magazine. Disgraceful.... what an idiot ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawmab at 16:51, 19 July 2008 | Report This Post


Leave poor Tim alone

Well empire, I couldn't disagree more. this is the best bond movie of the 80's - the danger in the film feels real, Timothy Dalton is believable and tough as well as vulnerable. It's inevitable that he's going to be compared to connery and moore, but can't you accept his own interpretation instead of expecting him to mimic his predecessors? And Robert Davi is an excellent villain! Since when has sadism been a requirement for bond villany? He's cultured, charismatic and ruthless and besides, he l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jomo999 at 22:31, 11 December 2007 | Report This Post


Leave poor Tim alone

Well empire, I couldn't disagree more. this is the best bond movie of the 80's - the danger in the film feels real, Timothy Dalton is believable and tough as well as vulnerable. It's inevitable that he's going to be compared to connery and moore, but can't you accept his own interpretation instead of expecting him to mimic his predecessors? And Robert Davi is an excellent villain! Since when has sadism been a requirement for bond villany? He's cultured, charismatic and ruthless and besides, he l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jomo999 at 22:31, 11 December 2007 | Report This Post


Leave poor Tim alone

Well empire, I couldn't disagree more. this is the best bond movie of the 80's - the danger in the film feels real, Timothy Dalton is believable and tough as well as vulnerable. It's inevitable that he's going to be compared to connery and moore, but can't you accept his own interpretation instead of expecting him to mimic his predecessors? And Robert Davi is an excellent villain! Since when has sadism been a requirement for bond villany? He's cultured, charismatic and ruthless and besides, he l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jomo999 at 22:28, 11 December 2007 | Report This Post


RE: This is at least a 3-star, not a 2-star.

So it's nothing to do with Bond? ... More

Posted by iconzero at 19:05, 20 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: This is at least a 3-star, not a 2-star.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0119530/i]dlrected by an Arthur Dong and this review was written by one. ... More

Posted by Mason Verger at 15:30, 20 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: This is at least a 3-star, not a 2-star.

Yeah, I'll agree it's one of the weakest Bond films, and it's clear that Dalton just didn't fit in the role. The baddie is laughable, the girl is only moderately hot. Living Daylights was a slight step up, but it's a good job that Tim got the boot. ... More

Posted by Piles at 18:07, 18 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: This is at least a 3-star, not a 2-star.

I really liked it and though it was actually slightly ahead of its time and would have had a better reception a few eyars later. And Dalton was a perfectly good bond. ... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 17:56, 18 October 2007 | Report This Post


This is at least a 3-star, not a 2-star.

What is funny is that the first Bond I ever saw was a Timothy Dalton, when ITV showed The Living Daylights in about 1995.   I think Dalton's legacy as Bond is very sad in that in the period he finally rose to the role of Bond after many previous declines, it was too late.  I think if Dalton had gotten the role in about 1980, we may have been talking about him in a totally different breath, as I think For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy had re-energised ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bedraggledfox at 17:39, 18 October 2007 | Report This Post


My second favourte Bond movie.

The greatest tragedy of the Bond movies is that Timothy Dalton never continued what he started in this movie. He's rock hard and cool as hell. Perfect! However, the late 80s just wasn't Bond's time. I genuinely believe that if Dalton returned in GoldenEye, the public would have welcomed him and the whole thing would have been much cooler. ... More

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Posted by Mad Dog Tannen at 15:35, 29 August 2007 | Report This Post


Licence to Kill

I really enjoyed Licence to Kill, it's a really action packed James Bond movie, with Dalton proving himself worthy to the the role. His performance is great and he does fill the shoes of Bonds before him. He brings darkness and sophistication to the role. The acting is all good, espacailly from Robert Davi as Sanchez. He is probably one of the most belivable villians in the Bond series. Sanchez is a drug baron, drugs are a very big thing in the modern world. It was a risky step by making the fil... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bond at 15:22, 12 May 2007 | Report This Post


Dalton is the best bond and this is a brill bond film!!! ... More

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Posted by Bruce c the best at 10:34, 18 April 2007 | Report This Post


This review is shit, and you are being paid too much.

now here me out please... If its fitted to suit the "caring sharing 90's" why is it the only Bond film rated a 15? Also in issue 210 during the bondathon the reviewers write "Dalton rocks" and describe this film as "excellent." How can you complain that Dalton brings nothing to the role? he was the first bond that one could actually believe had the capacity to kill anyone. His style is very similar to Daniel Craigs-admittedly Craig is a much better actor in the ro... More

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Posted by The Tom at 16:46, 29 December 2006 | Report This Post


Licence To Kill

This is the best Bond movie ever! Does nobody realise the balls of, after twenty-seven years and fifteen films having Bond go off on his own was the best thing that they could do. It adds a tension to the proceedings hitherto unseen and in the final face off is the only moment in the Bonds so far where you felt he was going to die. As much as i love Brosnan they are routine pedestrian affairs stuck somewhere between Connery adoration and Moore camp. I am glad they've gone the Dalton route with C... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by boostergold at 08:23, 04 November 2006 | Report This Post


Time for a Re evalue of Daltons Contribution to Bond

Although not perfect and I think history will tell a different story, people have already started to see that Brosnan's Bonds are not that great anffar as any of them apart from maybe Goldeneye could not be and will not be listed next to classics like From Russia, Goldfinger, You Only, OHMSS, Live & Let Die & Spy who, whereas unlike the you reviewer thinks this and Living daylights will show an actor who started to take the roll some where new after the sid james antics of Moore, Dalto... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by agent cooper at 00:51, 12 May 2006 | Report This Post


on the dvd it says license to kill not licensed. neway its not that bad of a film you feel if brosnan was playing it it would feel more like a bond film. instead it just seems like a thriller. good storyline though will davi sensational with a great del toro as his side kick ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doncopey1 at 21:41, 22 January 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Licensed to Kill

First, its nceli]Licensed Dalton plays a good 007, a more gritty realism which was much needed after the Roger Moore/Bond with a zimmerframe years. This, like The Living Daylights is a tough call for me. I love the fact that like one of my faveourite classics, ssia With Love is a sense 'this could happen'. But 007 isnt the most realistic character to begin with (a spy who tells everyone he meets his name? and whereas FRWL pretty much got the ballence correct between Bond and realism, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ripper at 18:54, 05 January 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Licensed to Kill

One of the weakest Bond films ever. Dalton is rather wooden in the role and it's no wonder that this was his last outing, as he totally lacks the charm and sophistication of Connery or Moore, or indeed the man who had been the producers first choice for Bond and would ultimately be his replacement, Pierce Brosnan. The film itself seems to try and be a more "hard edged" Bond than most of the previous few films, but with the result being that it nearly totally lacks the comic relief provided ... More

Posted by The Mighty Quinn at 18:35, 05 January 2006 | Report This Post


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