Monday, October 8, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "License to Kill" (1989)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

Revisiting this film in context and in its rightful place in Bond history, it is not as bad as I remember it being. Sure, it is hard to remember that this is a Bond film at times, especially in the ridiculous opening, but it is also a continuation of the much needed reimagining of the character. The major complaint on that front is that they might have taken things too far.

Bond had long been a cartoon character by the time Dalton came around. His interpretation is much more in keeping with the books by Fleming, but there was such a long history of films by that point (more than source material even) that trying to do an exclusively literary version of the character was too much too late. This rogue agent, Yojimbo-like story is a good concept (and something the series would return to more successfully) it just isn’t done well in this instance. There are times when one imagines a novice flipping through television channels would have a hard time distinguishing between scenes in this film and some of the better stuff from “The A Team.”

It’s too bad too. 1989 was a great year in film and presumably a historic year for real-life spy-dom. This was the last chance Bond had to be a Cold War spy, but then again the series creators may have seen the writing on the wall (as it were, since the Wall came down weeks after this film premiered) and were trying to find a way for Bond to be relevant post U.S.S.R. For the most part they failed and it would take 6 years for them to try again.

Dalton’s Bond is refreshing though. For some reason he is often referred to as the “monogamous” Bond, inspite of the fact that he is implied to have sex with two women in each of his films. The difference is that he has sort-of-relationships and not simply rendezvous. Perhaps he should be called the serial-monogamous Bond.

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