Licence to Kill
68. He disagreed with something that ate him
Another scene inspired from Fleming’s Live and Let Die novel. Bond’s pal Felix Leiter (played by David Hedison who also played the role 16 years earlier in Live and Let Die ironically) gets a savage mauling from a shark at the hands of Sanchez. Sanchez spouts some wonderful dialogue at him such as “I just want you to know that this is nothing personal. It’s purely business” and “There are worse things than death, hombre”. Even Benicio Del Toro’s Dario get in on the act telling Leiter they gave his wife “a nice honeymooooon”. Once Bond realises Sanchez has escaped (keep up 007!), he heads to straight to Felix’s house. There he finds Felix’s new Bride dead on the bed and a body bag containing Felix in it along with a blood soaked note. The look of rage in Bond’s eyes, believing his pal is dead is pure killer (along the same lines as the balloon scene in The Living Daylights). A few seconds later his mood changes when Felix splutters and he desperately struggles to save his friend.
69. Harpoon escape
Bond tries to escape underwater but is set upon by several divers. His oxygen supply is cut, so he resorts to desperate measures and fires a harpoon into the bottom of a float plane which is about to take off. Instantly he is pull away from his attackers and pulled to the surface for air. Cue a catchy version of the Bond theme, whilst Bond water-skis bare-foot, catches up to the plane, dispatches of the goons inside and flies “off like a bird” with all of Sanchez’s drug money. Easy!
70. Launder it
Following on from the previous scene, Bond proceeds to set up Milton Krest (played by the great Anthony Zerbe) as the culprit who stole Sanchez’s drug money. Naturally Sanchez is not a happy bunny. Bond grimly watches Krest’s head splat over all the money in the decompression chamber. One of Sanchez’s men asks “What about the money?”. Sanchez dryly smiles and says “Launder it”.
71. Discarded gadget
A lovely little throwaway moment from Q, who thankfully gets a lot more time in the field in this entry. In his final scene he is under-cover as a road sweeper. After years of berating Bond about mistreating his equipment, he reports in and casually tosses the gadget aside when it has performed it use. Superb!
72. Tanker Finale
This is clearly where the budget went, and it is one of the most satisfying action climaxes in the series. Bond jumps off a plane, and manages to commandeer one of the trucks to get Sanchez. Rumour has it in one shot that the bullets play part of the Bond theme as an in-joke. Topped off with a satisfying warm reception for the film’s main-villain and a rather large bang (in which Timothy Dalton’s trousers got pretty much blown off apparently) – smashing stuff!
Other great scenes:
Capturing the plane with the helicopter (which clearly inspired the same sort of thing on a bigger scale for The Dark Knight Rises’ opening). Really wanted to put this moment in my top 100 – but alas – only so much space! Felix being fed to the shark is harsh, “Bon appetit”, “You earned it, you keep it”, “We’re not a country-club 007!”, “Compliments of Sharky”, “Problem eliminator”, Uncle Q visits, the signature gun/Bond getting attacked by Ninjas and later interrogated, “You’re never gonna believe who this guy is”, “Don’t judge him too harshly, my dear. Field operatives often use every means at their disposal to achieve their objectives.”, Bond vs Dario, “Don’t you want to know why?”.
Not so great:
It sags somewhat in the middle section, especially the Professor Joe Butcher scenes. Felix looks remarkably spirited for someone who had his leg torn off from a shark and had his bride murdered. The glamour is lacking quite a bit in this entry, plus Bond even has a bar-brawl. It has some pretty horrendous 80’s styles/overtones which make it feel more like James Bond by way of Miami Vice and Die Hard/Lethal Weapon (which is may be in part to do with the fact it was scored by Michael Kamen). The film was more real and sadistic than all previous entries (the first Bond film to get the 15 certificate in the UK), which was perhaps a bit too much for pre 9/11 for audiences to take in after Roger Moore. Plus it was marketed extremely badly at the time, against the likes of Lethal Weapon 2, Batman and Indiana Jones and the last crusade.
73. Bungee Jump
After a 6 year absence, Bond returns with a big stunt and what a blinder it is: bungee jumping off a dam. None of your CGI rubbish, Wayne Michaels doing things real and jumping 720 feet down the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland. Thankfully he just about managed to get the gun out in time for the shot before the view was obscured. The dam now offers thrill-seekers the chance to follow in his/James Bond’s footsteps.
74. Straight up with a twist
Onatopp is a fun/over the top character who likes to crush men to death with her thighs whilst moaning in an orgasmic manner (no really!). She plays one-upmanship with Bond through-out the film. I particularly like the casino scene where Bond orders a Martini in his usual manner. He then asks how she takes it. “Straight up, with a twist”. Subtle! Classy!
75. Sexist misogynist Dinosaur
Poor old Bond is given a bit of a PC bashing by the ladies in this film. If it’s not Onatopp, it’s MoneyPenny threatening “sexual harassment”. Worse, his Boss M who has always been a man, is now a lady played by Dame Judi Dench. It seems many of the team have already taken quite a disliking to her. Michael Kitchen’s Bill Tanner calls her “The evil Queen of numbers”, which she unfortunately overhears asserting herself with “if I want sarcasm, Mr Tanner, I’ll talk to my children, thank you very much”. Bond also believes her to be a number-smith, so when things turn ugly over a drink she calls him “A sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the cold war”. “Point taken” admits Bond. But she hasn’t quite finished tearing strips off him just yet.
76. Tank Chase
What’s not to love about a completely destructive chase through St Petersburg with Bond pursuing in tank to the Bond theme? Not much! Some rather nice stunt work here.
Other great scenes:
Any time John Gottfried (playing Ourumov) gives that bemused look of his, the superb main-titles with all the falling communist icons, Aston vs Ferrari, Bond quickly dispatching of the guy on the Admirals boat (and later finding the Admiral dead, with a slight smile on his face – what a way to go!), “Walther PPK, 7.65 millimeter. Only three men I know use such a gun. I believe I’ve killed two of them”, “No more foreplay”, “No pithy comeback?” (which would have been a great surprise had it not been ruined by the billing and full trailer), “No one takes the time to do a really sinister interrogation anymore”, “I am invincible”.
Not so great:
Free-falling to catch the plane. Some of the Eric Serra music is completely out-of-place (such as the Outrun inspired score he uses during the Aston Martin/Ferrari chase, the admittedly lovely but overpowering casino scene music or the terrible song he sings over the end-credits which was also used in Leon in part). Plus don’t get me started on the BMW, which barely even features in the movie.
Part 9 coming soon: Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day
Images (C) 1989/1995 Danjaq/EON.