James Bond Retrospective: Licence To Kill (1989)

The Bond Villain The main villain, Franz Sanchez is markedly different from any of Bond€™s adversaries in the series so far. This is not a man bent on world domination; he has no other motivation from his drug dealing than to make lots of money and is ordinarily not the kind of man Bond would be bothered to pursue. However when their paths cross after the attempted murder of Felix Leiter, it becomes a case of Bond seeking revenge, disobeying orders from his superiors and going alone to bring Sanchez down. The fact that Sanchez is involved in a multi-million dollar drug smuggling operation is entirely circumstantial and simply offers Bond the opportunity to cause maximum disruption to his organisation. Robert Davi, best known at the time for his bad guy role of Jake Fratelli in The Goonies and as FBI Special Agent Johnson in Die Hard, was offered the role at the suggestion of Broccoli€™s daughter Tina and Richard Maibaum after seeing the actor in the lead role of the television film Terrorist On Trial: The United States vs. Salim Ajami. Davi reportedly embraced the role by researching Columbian drug cartels, developing a Colombian accent and learning to scuba dive for the short scene where Sanchez is freed from a submerged armoured car. Davi is excellent as Sanchez bringing equal measures of charm and menace to the role. He is one of the most believable Bond villains of the whole series and despite surrounding himself with henchmen he is not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to killing those who cross him. He is actually responsible for many of the most violent and brutal scenes in the film and within the film€™s real world setting, gives his actions a ruthless and shocking edge. Sanchez€™s main operational partner is Milton Krest, a character taken from the pages of Fleming€™s short story The Hildebrand Rarity. Played by Anthony Zerbe, he is a sleazy smuggler working under the guise of a marine biologist using his ship to facilitate drug deals at sea away from the gaze of the coastguard. A weak-willed man with eyes for Sanchez€™s mistress, his death at the hands of Sanchez is probably the most controversial in the franchise€™s history particularly as Bond essentially uses Sanchez to despatch Krest by setting him up. Sanchez€™s lead henchman Dario, played by Benicio del Toro, who at 21 years old, was the youngest actor to play a henchman in a Bond film. The baby-faced actor is an intimidating presence in the few scenes in which he features but like Krest, his final scene is the one that sticks in the mind as he unceremoniously finds himself fed into a grinder after failing to kill Bond in the same manner. The Bond Girl With Felix Leiter hospitalised after his run-in with Sanchez, Bond has to find a new partner to assist in his infiltration of Sanchez€™s operation. Discovering most of Leiter€™s network of associates have also been killed, he recruits the services of Pam Bouvier, a former Army pilot and CIA informant to travel with him to Isthmus City. Similar to Dr. Holly Goodhead in Moonraker, Bouvier is an agent already embroiled in a CIA mission that sees her and Bond in the middle of a bar brawl within moments of meeting. In an unusual twist on the traditional Bond girl role she even out-guns Bond by bringing a shotgun to their first meeting, putting his Walther PPK to shame. Played by former Calvin Klein model Carey Lowell, she has a tough, feisty edge and is instrumental in the progress of Bond€™s mission rather than hindering him. Her interplay with Desmond Llewellyn€™s Q is a fun aside to the more gritty aspects of the film and her relationship with Dalton is perfectly believable. For the casting of Sanchez€™s mistress, Lupe Lamora, Robert Davi made sure he had a hand in choosing an appropriate actress for the role going on to pick out Talisa Soto from a group of twelve potential candidates. The former American model born to parents of Puerto Rican descent certainly has a rare exotic beauty and she plays the damsel in distress reasonably well however her lack of acting experience is fairly obvious during her more demanding scenes. Aside from providing Bond with information to help him bring down Sanchez, she falls into the category of Bond girls that would normally end up dead so it is most surprising that she survives to be paired off with the President of Isthmus giving Bond the opportunity to end the film with Bouvier.


Chris Wright hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.