June 30, 2011

#5byBond: License To Kill

This week's #5byBond film is License To Kill, the sixteenth in the EON Bond franchise.

This is the fifth and final Bond film directed by John Glen, who helmed all of the 1980s outings.

It's the second outing for Timothy Dalton as Bond, and after his first turn in the role I'm looking forward to what this film brings.

My notes:

  • some really dumb dialog (and action) in the initial scene, with Felix Leiter detoured enroute to his wedding. Bond flicks always go off the rails when they veer into comic territory. Looks like EON forgot how effective the understated Bond was in The Living Daylights.
  • Bond is driving a Lincoln. We're back to Ford vehicles.
  • we see a flash of the darker Bond when he throws the suitcase full of cash at Killefer, sending him into the shark tank.
  • aerial scene of Bond fighting to get aboard the aircraft holding Krest's drug payment holds some good action, not overdone.
  • Bond Girl Pam Bouvier, Leiter's contact and a contract pilot, is a young, pre-Law and Order Carey Lowell. Sanchez's henchman, Dario, is a young, pre-The Usual Suspects Benicio del Toro. Interesting to see these actors before they became better-known.
  • Wayne Newton as preacher Joe Butcher! He adds to the cheese-factor, but he plays the role well.
  • hiding cocaine by dissolving it into gasoline, I wonder if that would actually work. Seems it wouldn't actually dissolve, just sink to the bottom.
  • only one room is burning, but they abandon a $32 million drug lab made of stone.
  • man, that man-eating grinder is awful. I remembered that scene from the first time I saw this film, years ago. del Toro's character meets a gruesome end. Ugh.
  • shooting at a man, who is atop a gasoline tanker, with a machine gun. Top marks for dumb!
  • eighteen-wheeler does a car-on-two-wheels stunt. More dumb.
  • the truck cab has a built-in wheelie-maker!

Well, this one was a bit of a disappointment. After Dalton's performance in The Living Daylights I figured things were looking up for Bond films. While Dalton was still good, the pace of the film seemed to take a pause every time they changed locales. Pacing is the director's responsibility, and given the dreadful films also directed by John Glen through the 1980s it's likely the fault for this one is his.

I read somewhere, too, that producer Cubby Broccoli, commenting on The Living Daylights, said they had erred in that film by losing the humor of the Bond character. Trouble is, the films after Connery left steadily degraded into sophomoric humor that made the production more farce than spy flick. I blame Broccoli for bringing back the goofball humor in this one.

The combination of Glen and Broccoli's need for Bond "humor" makes this one a crapshoot. Overall I liked Dalton, and I'm glad I had the chance to revisit these two films. I probably wouldn't have gone looking for them on my own, dimly remembering them (and Dalton) as disappointments. Guess my taste in Bonds has changed. Dalton was pretty good.

Carey Lowell was good as Pam Bouvier, the Bond Girl. Very pretty, though less glamorous than previous Bond women. Sort of a girl-next-door.

It'll be another six years before the next Bond flick hits the screens. A legal controversy over ownership of the Bond character and story line would drag on longer than Dalton was willing to wait, so the next film will bring yet another new Bond.

Up next: GoldenEye, the seventeenth Bond film, starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.