Licence To Kill
Review By: Gringo

Despite his impressive performance as Henry Jones Snr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I'm afraid (so afraid! The ghosts! It is like a haunted house in here!) that Sean Connery wasn't the best James Bond. Sure, he was the first, but to say that automatically qualifies him as the finest embodiment of Ian Fleming's super-spy character is a rather stupid comment to make. That sentence may make me the epitome of public enemy with some zealous 'Connery Rules' hard-line group, but to them I say, "you are wrong". You are wrong! This is what I say! And anyway, I doubt I a hard-line Connery supporter's group exists. What exactly would their function be? Track down Roger Moore sympathisers and force them to watch nothing but Sean's 007 movies? I don't think Connery would advocate such action. But with or without his permission, the Sean Squad (for that is what they are called) move through the night, hiding in the shadows, ready to take out the nearest Lazenby lover or Brosnan booster. But there's one man none of the above can touch - one I don't think even the crack team of Connery Commandos would dare touch. Timothy Dalton.

I'll say it loud, I'll say it proud, I think that Dalton is by far the best James Bond. He hit the screen with a force like a human ham's extra weight slapping against their face as a sadistic gym teacher makes them run another mile, with the chubby one covered in a mixture of sweat, tears and whatever they ate for lunch. And yes, I know I've used the letter 'I' a lot in the first sentence of this paragraph. I like it! Connery may have been a good all-round Bond, Moore may have made the series easy to watch, Brosnan may be good with a big budget and Lazenby may be...stuck in Obscure Town, Michigan, but none of them had the one quality Dalton did; great acting. Sure, Connery's a good actor and if you dare fault his performance in The Untouchables or The Last Crusade I will send a swarm of killer bees to your house. Killer bees! Bees! With killing powers! Well, I won't, because I don't know how to breed murderous bees, but I will be awfully upset. To get back to the topic of this review, Dalton brought a darker tone to the Bond movies which had been eroded during Moore's reign as a slapstick British clown spy. I hated The Living Daylights for many reasons - plodding script, duff acting by other cast members and a general aesthetic dislike for the production. But I think Licence To Kill is easily one of the best in the entire spy series.

But why, Mr. Argue Pants? I'll tell you. And I don't even have to be wearing a pair of Argue Pants to do so. Although I sure would like some pants like that. Imagine being presented with some pants that had teeth and its own brain! You could talk all day with your lower region! Of course, some people would use this for perverted means (so many sick people in the world today), but overall I think arguing with your pants would lead to a heightened sense of the benefits of debating the day's events. Where was I? Oh yes! The plot. A bad guy called Sanchez (he's a drug dealer! Boo! Hiss!) is rumbled and about to be taken to jail. Felix Leiter (one of Bond's friends) helped arrest Sanchez. Now, if the bad guy had been locked up at the start of the movie, it wouldn't have lasted very long. Mercifully, someone helps him escape and Sanchez takes out his anger on Leiter. With a shark! Leiter is maimed and his new wife killed. So Bond seeks revenge, and sets out to open several cans of whupass (I'm sorry, I really am) on Sanchez. This is what I like; it's a decent, relatively believable story and not at all concerned with strange men wanting to take over the world, coming up with elaborate death traps and dispatching stupid sidekicks to see off Bond.

Robert Davi, a relatively decent character actor, plays Sanchez. Rather more importantly, Sanchez is one mean cookie. He is made of dough and loaded with deadly chocolate chips! Stay away from him, or face the wrath of his violent cookie power! Only the Cookie Monster can defeat this menace! Send his blue jibba-jabbering bulk all the way to Mexico - or wherever Sanchez was hiding - and let the cookie fight commence! Sadly, the Cookie Monster was unavailable due to Sesame Street commitments, so Bond had to take his place as official Bad Guy Vengeance Seeker. As well as being a delicious treat, Sanchez is a ruthless man who enjoys whipping people and generally being rather unpleasant (oh, so polite!). He's one of the most believable Bond villains in that he doesn't live in a hideaway sculpted into a mountain, or live underwater in a huge submerged lair. He doesn't even have that much of a stupid name. Sanchez is far more acceptable than Blofeld. Just say that name out loud. Blofeld. The poor man. No wonder he was so pissed off and always ready to take over the world. Then again, considering about twenty million different actors played the role of the super-bad-guy-man, he was probably a bit irate. Multiple personality disorders tend to do that to you.

A good thing about this movie is the increased amount of screen time devoted to Q (Desmond Llewellyn). Normally the old man was reduced to saying "Pay attention, 007" and showing Bond how to work a missile-launching ham sandwich or a code-breaking clown stick. But in Licence To Kill his character had a point. He goes behind the back of the British government to help Bond out; providing him with new weaponry and generally being an asset to the whole film. Just to clarify, when I said he goes behind the back of the British government, I didn't mean literally. Q doesn't run in circles around Mr. Government shouting obscenities behind the poor, unsuspecting democracy's back. Although if governments of the world could be turned into living people, that would be great. You could have whole countries just getting up out of the sea and walking over to somewhere on Earth they preferred the look of. Insane country walking time! Sadly, this movie has very little to do with such momentous events and instead focuses on Bond's bloodthirsty quest for revenge, and good old Q gets to do more than just moan and fuss and look a lot like a man who wanted to say "Damn it! These jokes just aren't funny! Stop making me work with Roger Moore!".

See that picture above? Bond can fly! Joe said that the comment I've got 007 saying isn't funny. I hate Joe and the horse he rode in on. Joe probably doesn't like this movie, but then there aren't many things in life that he likes. Such angst! Next thing you know he'll be applying to join Linkin Park, getting a tattoo, dying his hair black, painting his face pale white, applying dark makeup around his eyes and lips and...oh, carrying on as normal. Just joking, Joe! I like you really (maybe yes, maybe no)! And don't worry, Joe isn't really a pasty-faced goth. If he was, he'd be writing for Pasty-Faced-Goths.com. Wait a moment! There's an idea! I was foolish to believe in this Listen To Me nonsense! Goths are the way to go! For certain! Hang on. Was I talking about a movie or something? There are a string of characters in Licence To Kill, and unlike the supporting cast of some Bond movies, nearly every single person involved in Bond's revenge quest has an important role to play. The movie even has Benicio Del Toro in it, as a sadistic henchman who enjoys laughing a lot. Until he gets thrown into a huge, dangerous chopping-type machine, and then for some reason he doesn't laugh quite so much.

This movie received one of the most severe ratings for a Bond movie - if not the worst; I would check, but I can't be bothered - due to the amount of violence, blood, sex and booze involved in it. And I think that might help to explain why I like it so much. Not because I'm an evil fiend, but because the added sense of realism helped bring Bond back into the realm of the quasi-believable. It was a real move away from the insane voodoo ghosts, tacky dialogue and even the slapstick antics of a big man with metal teeth called Jaws that pretty much sums up the preceding Roger Moore movies. Brosnan's turns as Bond have found a good balance between action and some humour, but any more jokes in them and they're in danger of becoming a parody of an Austin Powers movie. Which itself was a parody of the early Connery Bond movies and similar spy-fests. A parody paradox! Magic alliteration is a fun experience! But not many of the 007 series come close to this movie; it found the best balance; a lot of action, not too flashy (swish!) and with a good sense of humour that relied more on subtle jokes than in-your-face character names like Pussy Galore or Vagina Absolute.

It's a shame Dalton only played the role of James Bond for two movies. At least it was one more than Lazenby, who was a major part of one of the most annoying additions to the series, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Unlike some of the gaudy entries to 007's list of adventures, Licence To Kill stands out for, quite simply, being different and relatively realistic. The makers of the series haven't really tried anything as interesting again, which is probably down to the movie's relatively low box office takings, especially compared against the more paint-by-numbers Brosnan explosion extravaganzas. Although I doubt the movies are designed via a paint-by-numbers book. They could be, but I'm veering to the negative on that idea. Stop reading this review (if you haven't done so four paragraphs ago) and go watch this movie. Need more convincing about who was the best Bond? The evidence speaks for itself (speak, you inanimate object! Speak!). Timothy Dalton played a bad guy in the above average Rocketeer. Sean Connery played a bad guy in The Avengers. One of those decisions was a wise one, made by someone who was the best cinematic embodiment of Fleming's spy. The other made a decision to star in The Avengers when he should have known better. That's all you need to know (secret big super clue hint: Dalton was better).


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