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Licence to Kill (1989) is the sixteenth spy film in the James Bond film series by Eon Productions, and the first one not to use the title of an Ian Fleming story. It is the fifth and final consecutive Bond film to be directed by John Glen. It also marks Timothy Dalton’s second and final performance in the role of James Bond. The story has elements of two Ian Fleming short stories and a novel, interwoven with aspects from Japanese Rōnin tales. The film sees Bond being suspended from MI6 as he pursues drugs lord Franz Sanchez, who has ordered an attack against his CIA friend Felix Leiter and a rape and murder on Felix’s wife during their honeymoon. Originally titled Licence Revoked in line with the plot, the name was changed during post-production because too many people did not know what revoked meant.
Budgetary reasons caused Licence to Kill to be the first Bond film shot completely outside the United Kingdom, with locations in both Florida and Mexico. The film earned over $156 million worldwide, and enjoyed a generally positive critical reception, with ample praise for the stunts, but attracted some criticism of Dalton’s dark and violent interpretation of Bond and the fact that the film was significantly darker and more violent than its predecessors.
After the release of Licence to Kill, legal wrangling over control of the series and the James Bond character resulted in a six-year-long delay in production of the next Bond film which resulted in Dalton deciding not to return. It is also the final Bond film for actors Robert Brown (as M) and Caroline Bliss (as Moneypenny), screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, editor John Grover, cinematographer Alec Mills, director and former Bond film editor John Glen, and producer Albert R. Broccoli, although he would later act as a consulting producer for GoldenEye before his death.
Directed by John Glen
Albert R. Broccoli
Michael G. Wilson
Michael G. Wilson
Based on James Bond
by Ian Fleming
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Alec Mills
Edited by John Grover
Production company Eon Productions
Distributed by MGM/UA Communications Company (US)
United International Pictures (International)
Release date 13 June 1989 (London, premiere)
Running time 133 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Box office $156.1 million