Licence To Kill is perhaps the most infamous of the 24 (and counting) James Bond films released by Eon Productions in the years since Dr. No debuted in 1962. The second and final film to star Timothy Dalton as Bond, it’s also viewed by many fans as the film that put the franchise on hold for more than half a decade, as producers tried to adapt Ian Fleming’s superspy to changing times.
That level of blame is perhaps a bit harsh, as Licence to Kill remains a very watchable film. Its biggest problem — if you’re a Bond fan, anyway — might be that it feels the least like a Bond film of any of the Eon releases. It feels more like a gritty ’80s drug cartel drama with Bond inserted into it, and while that could work under the right circumstances, the odd tonal mix never quite worked here.
Still, Dalton is a good Bond, and would have been a formidable megastar if he’d been given different material and a different era in which to work. If nothing else, we should keep revisiting this film to remember how the franchise evolved, and to remember that Dalton actually did make a dashing 007, however brief his tenure turned out to be.