Is License To Kill One Of The Most Underrated Bond Films?
Modern audiences know (and love) Daniel Craig as James Bond, but before Craig, one of the most recognisable faces in British theatre accepted the role in 2005 and starred in his first film Casino Royale, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton both tried their hand in the iconic 007 roles. Dalton, who played Bond between 1986 and 1994, adopted one of the darker portrayals of the character, a personal decision reflected in the ominous undertones of Dalton’s final Bond film, License to Kill.
Pushing Boundaries in License to Kill
Released in 1989, License to Kill is arguably one of the most underrated Bond films because it is the most different compared to its predecessors. For starters, it was the first Bond film to be shot outside of the United Kingdom, with most of the filming on location in the United States. Interiors were also filmed at a studio in Mexico rather than Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, England, where the first bond film, Dr No (1962), was filmed.
Several other Bond movies were produced at Pinewood, including For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). License to Kill was also the first movie in the James Bond series to not use the title of one of Ian Fleming’s books. This is despite the film integrating concepts from Fleming’s novel Live and Let Die and his short story “The Hildebrand Rarity.”
In addition to a colder and ruthless portrayal of James Bond in License to Kill, some of the character’s other legendary traits were shaken up in the film. For example, in Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond’s love for gambling centres on games like baccarat and roulette. Today, there is even a James Bond roulette strategy that people use around the world. Yet in License to Kill, we see Bond engaging in blackjack, a first for the British spy.
Blackjack is a complex game that involves trying to a higher score than the dealer without exceeding 21 points. There are various blackjack actions and terminology, such as stand, split, surrender, and double, which is why many players practice blackjack online first. Online casinos offer informative guides on how to play the game’s variations, including single deck blackjack and double deck blackjack. In License to Kill, Timothy Dalton’s Bond plays five hands at a time.
Lastly, License to Kill was the first ever Bond film to receive a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association’s rating board, which has been applied to every film in the franchise since. While the reception of the movie was mixed, with many praising its stunts but criticising its dark tones and lack of flair, the movie grossed more than $156 million worldwide on a budget of $32 million.
Regardless of the critics, License to Kill is one of the most underrated Bond films because it took an iconic character and story and tried something new, even if not every audience member approved of the changes. And that is what cinema is all about — pushing limits and boundaries and challenging the norm.