Monday, February 01, 2021

Will The Real James Bond Stand Up –Part VI-Timothy Dalton’s “License To Kill” (1989)-A Film Review

Will The Real James Bond Stand Up –Part VI-Timothy Dalton’s “License To Kill” (1989)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Alden Riley and Sandy Salmon

License to Kill, Timothy Dalton, Cary Lowell, 1989

The knowledgeable reader is probably wondering what the hell is going on when two film reviewers who are allegedly fighting a “mock heroic” battle over the merits their chosen “real” James Bonds, Sean Connery for Sandy Salmon and Pierce Brosnan for Alden Riley are jointly contributing to a review of yet a third Bond, James Bond player Timothy Dalton in License To Kill. But perhaps that knowledgeable reader missed something a while back when this “fight to the death” started after Sandy had given Sean Connery top billing as the “real” James Bond and Alden had asked the new site manager Greg Green to give him space to tout Pierce Brosnan. Both reviewers agreed that those two were the only real candidates for number one and so they agreed, half-heartedly agreed since they are in another dispute over what is happening to the site currently now that any talk about the internal struggle that roiled the blog last year and mention of the previous leadership is verboten, to collectively trash Timothy Dalton’s pathetic excuse of a Bond player.

Alden had put that Brosnan request in the form of “blackmail” of a new kind when he threatened a “vote of confidence” showdown among the writers when Greg first balked at the request. That vote of no confidence doing in the previous unmentionable leadership. Greg the beneficiary of Alden’s leadership of the purge of the previous site manager in order to gain his job took the hint immediately and granted Alden’s wish. Initially Greg’s idea in resurrecting the seemingly never-ending Bond series for review at this site was the great success that such reviews had among the younger readers over at his previous job as site manager at American Film Gazette when the films came out. He thought such efforts might help stem the declining youth readership here as well. (That was the basis for the ill-fated although not completely abandoned run of comic book-derived super-heroes as well.) Greg had only expected to have Sandy, formerly the Senior Film Critic under the old regime, do a quick run through of the Connery films to see what would happen. Alden, formerly the Associate Film Critic under that same old regime then threw his complaint in the mix and the “battle” was joined.

That “battle” a little heated at times, at around the “water cooler” times, not necessarily reflected in the reviews themselves got a boost when Alden started to complain out loud about his “demotion” along with everybody else to just writer status and about the new rule that the old site manager should essentially become a non-person after that internal struggle purge. Sandy, who had actually supported the old regime manager tried to cool Alden down. Greg stepped in with the Dalton suggestion as a means to lower the temperature. We shall see.             
No question that the long running seemingly never-ending series of Bond films are run by a very defined formula from the opening camera eye agent shooting at us scene through the inevitable song reflecting the film title through the obligatory “Bond, James Bond” tip of the hat and through the equally obligatory Cold War-tinged thrilling action a minute involving improbable feats and almost equally implausible high tech gadgetry. And of course the inevitable string of foxy women ready to get down under the silky sheets with a Bond merely at the sight of him. Although there has been a welcome trend, reflecting the reality of the women’s movement in the Western world at least, away from that passive foxy female role and a more active role, for good or evil, along with that downy billows stuff (“downy billows” courtesy of the writer Tom Wolfe). So the real comparison is between the attributes and demerits of the stable of Bond players. As demonstrated in this his last film as Bond young Timothy Dalton did not make the cut.    

Here’s why. The bad guys in this one are south of the border, meaning Hispanic, Latino drug dealers (the Cold War tip being their working at least in transit via Cuba). Meaning they are serious bad asses lead by psychotic sadist Sanchez in the world of high end drug trade. A thorn in the side of DEA and maybe the CIA if not exactly MI6 material which is to knock out high tech blow up the world stuff by some evil forces and save the West or at least Britain. Way out of mission statement sluggard seriously understated and poker-faced Timothy Dalton’s starts off his cinematic journey on the way to a wedding where he is to be best man or something. WTF neither Connery or Brosnan would be caught dead within a hundred miles of a wedding chapel except maybe to exercise some lordly feudal right of first night with the bride, blushing or not.

Not so Timmy boy. See he is buddy-buddy with the local CIA chief and his lovely bride. Shortly after the wedding those bad ass drug traffickers throw the agent through the grinder, the shark tank grinder to show how sadistic that crowd is and kill his bride for kicks. So Timmy is on a mission not for Queen and country but personal revenge. How the mighty have fallen. So despite being warned off by M, and later loaded up with gizmos by Q also Bond series standard stuff Timmy is off to kill bad guys- no prisoners here, after all he has a license to kill in case you have not been paying attention to all this secret agent stuff of late.

He starts working his way up the food chain and along the way while trying to see how the cartel operates he comes across the head bad guy Sanchez’s mistress who is on a boat used to transfer drugs for cash. Naturally a drop dead beauty, a hot-blooded Spanish beauty whom he does not go under the sheets with right there and then. Connery or Brosnan would have had her for lunch and had time for a nap afterward. Maybe Timmy, is as they used to say in Sandy’s old neighborhood before everybody got okay with having gay guys out of the closet, ‘light on his feet” or something. They crossed paths a couple of times and no go. Something is definitely wrong here.        

As Timmy gets to the top of the food chain, gets to the country (fake named but based on real drug route Panama in the old days maybe now too) where the bad hombres are headquartered he runs into a dish, a good looking young woman, Pam, played by Cary Lowell, who also has abilities like being able to fly a plane (and later drive a heavy duty truck). They hit the sheets quickly after a little repartee so that question about Timmy sexual preferences gets answered seemingly he is just a shy boy or something. Working together they start moving in on the bad guys, start taking names and numbers and not asking questions until the big finale when after blowing up the bad guys’ cocaine laboratory among other things the bad guys head on the road to deliver their goods via oil trucks (through the marvels of modern chemistry cocaine could be dissolved in oil for easy and safe delivery-nice ploy). The final confrontation shows a lot of trucks being blown up and the bulk of the bad guys including the head bad guy Sanchez burned-literally.

Work finished, revenge taken, Timmy and Pam go to a party where the head bad guy’s now ex-girlfriend although not dressed in mourning black courtesy of Timmy makes a play for him leaving Pam blue, very blue. Except Timmy, and this will tell the tale as well as any about why this James Bond is not up to snuff, rebuts the senorita and goes to that very blue Pam. Yeah, true blue Timmy that kind of says it all about this fake news Bond, James Bond. Fortunately Pierce will follow Timmy in the role and all will be back to jump street again.           

No comments:

Post a Comment