Here’s my take on Licence to Kill. Please enjoy and leave me your thoughts.
I like Tim Dalton but in LTK, he have an important lack of charisma. I can’t help it I don’t like this film. Controversial ? I don’t think so.
I would say that it’s darker tone made it controversial among fans back in the day, but not as much since the Craig films came out…
LTK was a vast improvement on TLD.
Problem was that in trying to address the issues with TLD they threw the baby out with the bathwater. TLD’ tone, locations and wardrobe suited Dalton classical looks and style - it was just the script and workmanlike direction that sucked. So thankfully they beefed up the script with LTK, but but sadly they set it in a world that didn’t suit Dalton’s Bond.
LTK was trying to modernise by aping the look of Miami Vice which at that time was an established aesthetic that was being aped everywhere. This modernisation worked in terms of the script, locations and a more violent edge, but unfortunately Dalton seems highly out of place trying to seem ‘modern’ in pastels etc.
It was virtually a reboot, but needed a younger actor to pull it off. Pity they didn’t save the drug cartel plot for a new Bond and served Dalton better with a tone that suited him - slightly austere, classical and romantic; a Byronic Bond.
Something similar to TLD, but with a better script, fresh direction and a violent edge.
I don’t know that it’s the “darker tone” I dislike so much as the general feeling it’s grubby and low-rent. People compare it to “Miami Vice” to imply it’s derivative, but “Vice” generally featured more glamorous clothes, cars and sets than this film. I’d compare it more closely to a Chuck Norris or Steven Segal b-movie in looks and scope.
This was the first film where I really understood the criticisms that Glen’s directing style was “workmanlike” because until now – with maybe the exception of some stretches of AVTAK – there were always glamorous locales and sets to pretty things up.
I feel there’s a certain exoticism and sophistication to the world of Bond that sets the franchise apart, and without it, something essential Is lost. And while revenge makes for interesting stories, ultimately it’s not a realm where Bond works best. He’ll never beat the Segals and Bronsons, or even Buford Pusser, at their own game.
I enjoyed that merciless straifing of LTK
My only gripe is that Vice did indeed feature many grubby locals and characters. It contrasted the drugs bling/drugs grime realities constantly.
The reason Vice worked were LTK didn’t was the genius of Michael Man. If they’d gotten him to steer LTK results might’ve been far more interesting.
I agree that to the extent Vice worked better, it was down to style (courtesy Mr Mann). Not just the fashions, but also the cinematography, editing and use of contemporary music were all novel and creative for the time. The stories may or may not have been compelling or clever, but that’s more easily decided looking back decades later; at the time it was visually dazzling and innovative, appealing to the audience’s eternal quest for something “new and different.” (Though once that novelty wore off, they largely moved on).
LTK, for me, lacks that element of creativity and innovation, at least in terms of visual style. It looks like another John Glen movie, only with a third of the budget, right down to Bond’s off-the -rack suits from K-Mart.
In fairness, though, I was fairly engrossed in the story first time around, though I knew something was missing. I finally figured it out when Sanchez learns Bond is a British agent and says, “I knew it. You have class.” At the time I thought, “Based on WHAT, exactly?” Sanchez was not seeing Bond at anything like his best. Yes, he met him when Bond was wearing a tux, but so were others in the casino, and Bond’s didn’t even fit that well (and he topped it off with the kookiest coiff in the history of hair gel). I could only figure Sanchez had watched the previous film. (Logically, though, why would anyone think “British spy = Classy” unless they live a world where theaters show Bond films, which I would assume Sanchez does not?)
I should also note that my wife really liked LTK for the same reason it left me ambivalent: it didn’t feel like a Bond film. Even at the time, I realized it was an effort to reposition Bond for a new audience, and as a result I was willing to cut it some slack. It would have been interesting to see where the series might have gone had this entry met with more success. As it was, the lukewarm box office and subsequent (though unrelated) 6-year hiatus resulted in a retreat to formula, on steroids.
LTK is my birth year Bond film and I’m a big fan. I love Franz Sanchez - he’s my favourite villain. The tanker chase is the best set piece from his era, and the Bond girls are also fantastic. If you’re a fan of the Craig era LTK should be right up your alley.
To me, the main problem with the TLD is that it is really 2 movies in one and it doesn’t have a clear main villain. First, there is the (far stronger) cold war story dealing with the deceptive Koskov and then there’s Brad Whittaker’s absurd arms dealing. The locations are great and setting it against the backdrop of the mujahideen fighting against the Soviets works (in 1987, not so much now). However, neither villain is fleshed out very much and neither is very interesting. I think that if the opium sub plot had been dropped and the film retained more of its Cold War-thriller identity, it would have been a lot better. Also, Kara Milovy is just the worst.