Licence to Kill


In January I was invited onto the first episode of podcasters par excellence John Feetenby and Lawrence Sutcliffe’s new endeavour, Pleonasmatron. On it I discuss my top five Bond movies, and this can be heard here.

After last month’s success with The Living Daylights, I’m to see if Mel enjoys Timothy Dalton’s second mission as James Bond. I tell her that there are two things I think she will particularly like about this one…

…The first of which is a wedding. Felix Leiter is getting married. He is in the car with Bond and Sharkey are in the car on the way to the ceremony.

James Bond is the best man, I tell Mel. Then, for clarity, I explain that I mean the best man at the wedding, he’s obviously always the best man in the films.


They are driving through the Florida Keys, and this reminds Mel of when we flew over this area on the flight to our honeymoon in Mexico last year. She looks through the photos on her phone. “I’ve got a photo of that road!”

photo 3

From Mel’s iPhone: Actual road that James Bond was on. Possibly.

A helicopter intercepts them. Leiter’s DEA colleagues have news that drugs baron Franz Sanchez is making a rare visit to Crab Key. Bond and Leiter board the helicopter to arrest Sanchez.

“Is that it for the wedding?!” Asks Mel, disappointedly.

Bond and the DEA battle Sanchez’s goons, but the kingpin escapes in a plane. Bond has the helicopter chase him down and he ties a lasso around the plane’s tail. Bond and Leiter parachute to the church.

wedding parachute

“What an entrance!”

“I love this song,” Mel says of Gladys Knight’s Licence to Kill theme. As ever, though, she’s less keen on Maurice Binder’s titles.


“Why is there just naked women every time?” She asks.

I suggest that maybe they represent Bond’s subconscious.

‘I think it represents a randy old director who wants to see some boobs. It’s not original any more. We get it: women have boobs.”

Back at the wedding Felix has married his bride, Della. I ask Mel if she likes the dress. In the run-up to our own wedding she would watch television programmes like Don’t Tell the Bride and Four Weddings, running a critical eye over the bridal gowns.


“They are actually coming back into style now. The guests are all in hideous pastel colours though.”

I remember at this point that I saw an advert for the new 007 fragrance for ladies, and show it to Mel on my phone:

I hint to Mel that she might get this as a gift, with our first wedding anniversary coming up.

“That’s also the date from which we can get divorced,” she warns.

Felix is in his study having a meeting with Pam Bouvier. Della sends Bond to get the groom to cut the cake. Bond checks out Pam rather blatantly as she leaves the room.


“That’s not pervy at all.”

I tell Mel that this is the second time we’ve seen this actor play Felix Leiter, and offer 100 points if she can name the previous film he appeared in.

“I have no idea… Diamonds Are Forever?”

So close! The next movie after that, Live and Let Die.

We see Sanchez in custody. He offers two million dollar reward for anyone that helps release him.

“He’s obviously going to get free,” Mel predicts.

As Bond leaves the wedding, Della offers him her garter, meaning he would marry next. It’s  a touching, subtle scene which Mel finds quite moving. “Awwww,” she says.

The Leiters’ honeymoon is soon cut short when Sanchez’s goons break in and grab Della.

“Give him a smack in the balls,” Mel advises the newly-wed.

Felix is taken to Sanchez, in a fishing warehouse. He has the DEA agent lowered into a shark tank.

Mel says “There’s just no tension because we know he’ll live.”

Leiter is lowered into the water and the sharks start eating him.


‘But he lives!” Mel exclaims.

I ask why she thinks this.

“We’ve seen him in the later films… Casino Royale!”

That’s a reboot, I remind her. We see him earn his licence to kill in that film.

Bond runs out of the airport when the check-in lady tells him a big drug dealer has escaped. The MI6 agent goes straight to the Leiter household, where he finds Della’s dead body.

Mel is really upset. “Awwww, no. They’ve raped her. She’s on the bed. Oh God, that’s awful.”


“That’s really sad. It’s a different tone isn’t it?”

I hold Mel’s hand comfortingly.

Bond finds Leiter on the sofa, with a grim note that says, ‘He disagreed with something that ate him.’

“James Bond is better in this one. He gets upset about things. Sean Connery and Roger Moore never got bothered by anything. He’s more genuine.”

Leiter has survived, but lost a leg below the knee and may still have to have his arm amputated. Bond and Sharkey go to check out nearby aquariums, and the last place they try is Milton’s Krest cover business. Bond inveigles his way in for a look around, and sneaks back that night having seen Leiter’s buttonhole on the floor.

He opens a drawer, full of fishing bait.


“That’s not real,” Mel points out. “Some of that is fusilli pasta.”

Bond throws a henchman into the writhing mass.

“Urrghh. Minging.”

Bond is taken to Hemingway House by a DEA agent, and finds M inside, with some MI6 heavies, and a sniper on a nearby tower. 007 is told to stop his pursuit of Sanchez and fly to Istanbul for his assigned mission. M won’t listen to his entreaties that the Americans won’t do anything, and Bond offers his resignation.


“I actually feel sorry for James Bond here. I’m actually on his side. I can’t believe I feel like this.”

Bond leaps off the balcony and escapes, under fire from his former colleagues. He follows their only lead and has Sharkey take him to Krest’s research vessel. He sneaks into Lupe, Sanchez’s girlfriend’s, cabin. She covers for him when Milton Krest comes to her door. As soon as the door is closed their resume their conversation.

“You probably wouldn’t talk that close to the door.”

Mel is quiet while Bond ruins Krest’s drug deal. First all the cocaine ends up in the sea, then he water-skis behind the plane, gets in, throws the crew out and flies off with all the cash. He meets Pam Bouvier, Felix’s contact in an 80s bar.


“He looks like a crocodile doesn’t he?” Mel muses.


A fight breaks out when a couple of Sanchez’s heavies show up to get Pam.

“That’s ridiculous. The woman in the middle is still dancing. Everyone’s waving guns around and she’s still waving her bum around in a thong.”


Back in London, M tells Moneypenny off for her sloppy work.

“There are five typing errors on the first page alone!”, He barks at her. “What’s got into you?”

“That’s how I should speak to my secretary!” Says Mel. “See how far I would get!”

In quick succession we see two more secretaries; Bond gets a reluctant Pam to pose as his executive secretary, then he visits Sanchez’s bank, where the manager is groping his secretary.

“Bank managers are dirty buggers,” Mel says. She says this because I used to be a bank manager. But this was long after the glory days of secretaries, golf afternoons and large boxes of cigars for visitors. Sigh.

Bond gets the meeting with Sanchez that he needs to scope out the villain’s office for an assassination. Sanchez takes the agent’s passport, noting how well-travelled he is.

“I bet James Bond has to have the forty-eight page version,” Says Mel. “You can get twenty-four or forty-eight page passports.”


It is a very chunky passport.

Pam removes the bottom part of her dress.


“That’s a cool dress. My wedding dress was like that. Remember? It had an extra, detachable train on the back.”

Bond is on his guard when the hotel receptionist informs that his uncle has arrived and is waiting in the suite.

When he arrives he overpowers the interloper, only to find that it’s Q.

“I love Q! Absolutely love him.”

This is the second reason I hoped Mel would like this film, Q appears more than usual. The Quartermaster has brought a plethora of gadgets to help Bond on his revenge mission.

Pam picks up a Polaroid camera to snap the old friends, almost killing Bond with the laser beam it fires.


“Is she —-ing thick?” Asks Mel.

Posing as a waiter, Bond makes his way through the casino to get to the rooftop. He takes a tray of sandwiches into the lift.

“Get some of those sandwiches eaten, James. They look lush.”

Bond’s assassination attempt is interrupted by some agents from Hong Kong Narcotics and a British agent, who tie Bond up. Sanchez’s men attack the building, rendering 007 unconscious and killing the others.

He wakes up at Sanchez’s house.

“I was all a dream!” Says Mel. I think she’s joking.

Bond and Pam hide the money Bond stole from the drugs deal in the WaveKrest’s hyperbaric chamber. Sanchez finds it and puts his apparently disloyal henchman inside, where his head pops like balloon.


I ask Mel if she’d rather be eaten by sharks or have her head blown up.”

“If it was definite death, then sharks.”

Bond spends the night with Sanchez’s girlfriend, Lupe.


Lupe goes to the hotel and meets with Q and Pam. There’s a great moment here where Q rolls his eyes at the news that she slept with Bond the night before.

“I love James so much,” Lupe tells them.

“No you don’t, love,” says Mel.

Mel is quiet for a while as Bond works within Sanchez’s organisation. She apologises for not saying much, but assures me she is really enjoying it.

Bond’s cover is blown when Dario recognises him from the 80s bar. Sanchez ties him up and puts him on a conveyor belt that leads to some whirling blades. Pam arrives just in time to save him and Dario ends up mangled.

“It’s a bit gruesome, this one, isn’t it?”

Mel is quiet again through the tanker chase, which sees Bond finally kill Sanchez. Having been doused in petrol, Bond uses the lighter he got as a best man present to both let the villain know why he came after him, and consume him in a fireball.

Bond is with Lupe at a party with the president.


Mel is not happy with this resolution. “No! He’s not ended up with her! Why has he gone with her? She’s a hussy.”

Pam is at the party too, and is jealous when Bond and Lupe share a kiss.

“Awww,” Mel says in sympathy. “Don’t cry over him, lass.”

Bond sees Pam. He sets Lupe with the Isthmus president, the leaps into the swimming pool. He pulls Pam in with him for a smooch.

“He’s a slime ball doing that. He was just snogging that other one.”

I ask Mel what she thought of the film.

“I actually enjoyed that. I can’t believe I’ve ever said that. Timothy Dalton is much more likeable because he has feelings. I like that he went rogue when M was being a twat with him. And I loved how much Q was in it.”

Mel will return… Watching GoldenEye.

Original theatrical trailer:

Buy Licence to Kill on DVD from Amazon:

Bond Remastered – Licence To Kill (1-disc) [DVD] [1989]

On Blu-Ray:

Licence to Kill [Blu-ray] [1989]


5 thoughts on “Licence to Kill

  1. Pingback: GoldenEye | Operation Grand Slam

  2. Pingback: The Living Daylights | Operation Grand Slam

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