License to Kill (1989)

License to Kill (1989), directed by John Glen.

When CIA pal Felix Leiter's bride is killed by a drug lord, James Bond goes rogue to hunt him down and kill him.

The first half is darker and more violent than usual. Bond is an unsubtle avenger, charging in and killing freely: by gun, airplane, sharks (again!) and even with a tub of maggots. The second half lightens up and becomes the more traditional Bond action plot: visit the casino, time out for a bit of romance, penetrate the enemy organization and tour his vast secret facility.

Bond #16 is Timothy Dalton's second and last, and the last Bond film of the 80s. In sharp contrast with Roger Moore, Dalton is more violent and passionate, less comedic. He's better at that side of the character than any other Bond, excepting Daniel Craig who also has a handle on Bond-as-killer.

We have some good stunts and titanic explosions, but the dialogue and villains have a cheap made-for-TV character, back when that was bad. Note that Bond's own people try to kill him at one point, and that he keeps $5 million in drug money to finance his revenge operation.

The women are not very involving this time, but romance is not the emphasis. Young Benicio del Toro is a psycho-thug.

Available on Blu-ray with a rather fine image.