007: Licence to Kill

by Alan Rapp on November 12, 2008

in Essays , Theme Week

After several years of threatening to leave the franchise Roger Moore finally bid farewell to Bond with A View to a Kill.  For the first time in over a decade the series needed a new actor for the role.  Sam Neill and Pierce Brosnan were two of the names on the list, but the role went to British stage actor Timothy Dalton.

Dalton had be offered the part twice, in 1968 and 1970, but turned the role down, not wanting to step into, and on, the legacy he felt was Connery’s alone.  After Moore retired however Dalton was approached again and this time he finally accepted.

He would only serve as Bond for two films, but left a mark by continuing to steer the character away from Moore’s more lighthearted approach and more in line with the original Fleming character.  Though both films did well worldwide, Dalton left the franchise after it bogged down in litigation preferring to move on to other roles.

Dalton’s legacy as Bond was somewhat marred by many factors including a conservative atmosphere, given the AIDS epidemic, pushing the character away from the womanizer he had become.  Dalton also had to deal with an absence of a larger-than-life Bond villain in both of his films, and the plot of his second film made him a rogue agent which didn’t please many fans.

The Living Daylights

Bond assists in the defection of KGB General Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe), who informs MI6 that a power mad KGB General (John Rhys-Davies) is running a program, “Smert Shpionam,” of assassinating spies from the West.  After Koskov is taken from British Intelligence, Bond befriends Koskov’s girlfriend (Maryam d’Abo) and together they begin to uncover Koskov’s devious nature and his involvement with an arms dealer (Joe Don Baker).  Bond finds himself a prisoner in Whitaker’s Afghanistan camp where he frees himself and puts an end to Whitaker and Koskov’s plans of seizing power and wealth through illegal gun sales and killing off the competition.  Dalton’s first foray into Bond was a success, even if Bond seemed a little colder and aloof than before.  The film also updates Bond’s car with the new and improved Aston Martin V8 Vantage (with all the usual extras).

Licence to Kill

Dalton’s second, and final, entry into the series finds Bond suspended from active duty and on a personal crusade to avenge the maiming of his friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison) and the death of his young bride (Pricilla Barnes) by a powerful drug lord (Robert Davi).  Bond follows Sanchez to The Republic of Isthmus presenting himself as a friend and getting close enough to destroy Sanchez’s operation and take his revenge.  Though the film lacks much of the mystery and suspense of a Bond flick, it does give us two beautiful Bond girls in Cary Lowell as a CIA agent and Talisa Soto in the role of Sanchez’s mistress.  The film is also interesting for widening the role of Q (Desmond LLewelyn) by having him help Bond out in the field.  Though the film did well enough worldwide, it struggled in the US, and many fans felt it strayed to far from the Bond formula.

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