Licence to Kill (1989): Bond No. 16, Starring Timothy Dalton

Licence to Kill is the sixteenth in the James Bond series, and the second (and last) to star British actor Timothy Dalton.

Its story sees Bond being suspended from MI6 as he pursues drug lord Franz Sanchez, who has ordered attack against Bond’s CIA friend Felix Leiter and the murder of Felix’s wife after their wedding.

Licence to Kill was the first film in the series to not use the title of an Ian Fleming story.

Though its plotline is largely original, it contains elements of the Fleming novel Live and Let Die and the short story “The Hildebrand Rarity,” interwoven with a sabotage premise influenced by Kurosawa’s film Yojimbo.

It was the fifth consecutive, and final, Bond film to be directed by John Glen, as well as the last to feature actors Robert Brown as M and Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny.

Also, the final Bond film with script by Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, and producer Albert R. Broccoli; Maibaum and Binder died in 1991, and Broccoli in 1996.

Originally titled Licence Revoked, the name was changed due to American test audiences associating the term with driving.

It was the first Bond film to be shot entirely outside the UK:  photography took place in Mexico and the US, and interiors at Estudios Churubusco instead of Pinewood Studios.

The film earned over $156 million worldwide, and enjoyed  positive reception, with praise for the stunts, but criticism for the darker tone, including Dalton’s portrayal.

DEA agents pick up MI6 agent James Bond and his friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, on their way to Leiter’s wedding in Key West, to have them assist in capturing drugs lord Franz Sanchez.

Bond and Leiter capture Sanchez by attaching a hook and cord to Sanchez’s plane and pulling it out of the air with Coast Guard helicopter. Bond and Leiter then parachute down to the church in time for the ceremony.

Sanchez bribes DEA agent Ed Killifer and escapes. Meanwhile, Sanchez’s henchman Dario and his crew ambush Leiter and his wife Della and take Leiter to an aquarium owned by Sanchez’s accomplice, Milton Krest.

Sanchez has Leiter lowered into a tank holding a tiger shark. Sanchez has escaped, and when Bond returns to Leiter’s house he finds Leiter maimed and Della murdered—and by implication raped.

Bond, with Leiter’s friend Sharkey, start their own investigation. They discover a marine research center run by Krest, where Sanchez has hidden cocaine and submarine for smuggling.

After Bond kills Killifer with the same shark tank used for Leiter, M meets Bond in Key West’s Hemingway House and orders him to go to Istanbul. Bond resigns after turning down the assignment, but M suspends Bond instead and revokes his licence to kill. Bond becomes a rogue agent, though he later receives unauthorized assistance from Q.

Bond boards Krest’s ship Wavekrest and foils Sanchez’s latest drug shipment, stealing millions. He discovers that Sharkey has been killed by Sanchez’s henchmen. Bond meets and teams up with Pam Bouvier, a pilot and DEA informant, at a Bimini bar, and journeys with her to the Republic of Isthmus.

He seeks Sanchez’s employment by posing as assassin for hire. Two Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau officers foil Bond’s attempt to assassinate Sanchez and take him to an abandoned warehouse. They are joined by Fallon, an MI6 agent who was sent by M to apprehend Bond. Sanchez’s men rescue him and kill the officers, believing them to be the assassins.

Later, with the aid of Bouvier, Q, and Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe Lamora, Bond frames Krest by planting the $5 million in Wavekrest. Sanchez shuts Krest into a decompression chamber and cuts the oxygen cord, causing Krest to decompress to death. Bond is then admitted into the inner circle.

Sanchez takes Bond to his base, disguised as the headquarters of a religious cult. Bond learns that Sanchez’s scientists can dissolve cocaine in petrol and then sell it disguised as fuel to Asian drug dealers. The televangelist Joe Butcher serves as middleman, working under Sanchez’s business manager Truman-Lodge, who uses Butcher’s TV broadcasts to communicate with Sanchez’s customers in the United States. During Sanchez’s presentation to potential Asian customers,

Dario recognizes Bond and betrays him to Sanchez. Bond starts a fire in the laboratory, but is captured again and placed on the conveyor belt that drops the brick-cocaine into a giant shredder. Bouvier arrives and shoots Dario, allowing Bond to pull Dario into the shredder, killing him.

Sanchez flees as fire consumes his base, taking with him tankers full of the cocaine and petrol mixture. Bond pursues them by plane, with Bouvier at the controls. During the course of a stunt-filled chase through the desert, Bond destroys three of the tankers and kills several of Sanchez’s men.

Sanchez attacks Bond with a machete aboard the final remaining tanker, which crashes down a hillside. A petrol-soaked Sanchez attempts to kill Bond with his machete. Bond then reveals his cigarette lighter—Leiters’ gift for being the best man at the wedding—and sets Sanchez on fire. Sanchez stumbles into the wrecked tanker, causing a big explosion.

Bond receives a call from Leiter telling him that M has congratulated his work and offers him his job back.

He then rejects Lupe’s advances and romances Bouvier instead.

Cast
Timothy Dalton as James Bond 007, an MI6 agent who resigns to take revenge on drug lord Franz Sanchez.

Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier, ex-Army pilot, DEA informant.

Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez, powerful drug lord in Latin America, wanted by DEA.

Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora, Sanchez’s girlfriend, in love with Bond.

Anthony Zerbe as Milton Krest, Sanchez’s henchman operating Wavekrest Marine Research, and whom Bond sets up to turn Sanchez against him

Everett McGill as Ed Killifer, DEA double agent who frees Sanchez from custody.

Frank McRae as Sharkey, a friend of Leiter who owns boat charter business.

Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Bond’s ally who supplies Bond with gadgets

Robert Brown as M, head of MI6 and Bond’s superior who revokes Bond’s double-0 licence

Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny, M’s personal secretary

Anthony Starke as Truman-Lodge, Sanchez’s financial advisor.

Grand L. Bush as Hawkins, a DEA operative who opposes Bond’s vendetta.

Benicio del Toro as Dario, Sanchez’s personal henchman.

Alejandro Bracho as Perez, one of Sanchez’s henchmen.

Guy De Saint Cyr as Braun, one of Sanchez’s henchmen.

Diana Lee-Hsu as Loti, female Hong Kong narcotics agent working with Kwang.

Rafer Johnson as Mullens, a DEA operative.

David Hedison as Leiter, a former CIA agent now with DEA and friend of James Bond.

Don Stroud as Colonel Heller, Sanchez’s head of security.

Priscilla Barnes as Della Churchill, Leiter’s fiancée then bride.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Kwang, a Hong Kong Police narcotics sent to infiltrate Sanchez’s place

Pedro Armendariz as President Hector Lopez, president of Isthmus.

Wayne Newton as Professor Joe Butcher, Sanchez’s middleman and TV evangelist for Olimpatec Meditation Institute.