Licence to Kill (1989)

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John Glen directs Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell and Robert Davi in this extremely hard edged Bond where 007 quits the secret service to infiltrate a drug cartel with revenge solely on his mind. 

Like Moonraker or even more pointedly Quantum of Solace, this is one of those Bonds that lurches so far away from the long perfected franchise formula that it proves too overpowering in flavour for some. The graphic violence, lack of humour and more intimate plotting put many off on its summer release. I love it though. Nearly every aspect of it stands out. Davi’s baddie is complex and compelling. Both Bond girls serve a narrative purpose, have their own agendas, look great and even are proactive. Not that I have a crass ranking list but Carey Lowell is almost definitely the sexiest sidekick to save James TWICE! Cracking theme by Gladys Knight (the soundtrack entire could easily be for a Eddie Murphy romantic comedy rather than spy thriller). Three prolonged stunt sequences – frock coat plane jackings, scuba diving escapes, petrol truck demolition derbies. A young Benicio Del Toro with bad teeth! And you get loads of on assignment Q! Dalton looks a little less comfortable here than in the more romantic, trad The Living Daylights. Still he is the only Bond never to make a duffer while being still great in the role. Tim can hold is dignified head up high on this his premature exit adventure.

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