Licence to Kill (1989)

UK, 1989
35mm film, colour
stereo, English
Production Start Date: 16 July 1988

A British borderline science fiction film directed by John Glen.

Plot Summary

When his friend Felix Leiter is crippled on his wedding day and his new bride murdered, a vengeful James Bond resigns from the British Secret Service and goes looking for the men responsible – a drugs smuggling ring led by notorious South American drugs baron Franz Sanchez.


Director: John Glen
Eon Productions, Danjaq LLC, United Artists
Producers: Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson
Associate Producers: Tom Pevsner, Barbara Broccoli
Script: Michael G. Wilson, Richard Maibaum
Characters: Ian Fleming
Director of Photography: Alec Mills
Editor: John Grover
Music: Michael Kamen
License to Kill Performed by: Gladys Knight
Sound Recording: Edward Tise
Costume Designer: Jodie Lynn Tillen
Make Up Supervisors: George Frost, Naomi Dunne, Norma Webb
Hair Supervisor: Tricia Cameron
Special Effects Supervisor: John Richardson
Special Visual Effects: John Richardson
Production Designer: Peter Lamont

Timothy Dalton (James Bond)
Carey Lowell (Pam Bouvier)
Robert Davi (Franz Sanchez)
Talisa Soto (Lupe Lamora)
Anthony Zerbe (Milton Krest)
Frank McRae (Sharkey)
Everett McGill (Killifer)
Wayne Newton (Professor Joe Butcher)
Benicio Del Toro (Dario)
Anthony Starke (Truman-Lodge)
Pedro Armendariz (President Hector Lopez)
Desmond Llewellyn (Q)
David Hedison (Felix Leiter)
Priscilla Barnes (Della Churchill)
Robert Brown (M)
Caroline Bliss (Miss Moneypenny)
Don Stroud (Heller)
Grand L. Bush (Hawkins)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Kwang)
Alejandro Bracho (Perez)

Alternative Titles

The Cancelled License – translated Japanese title
License Revoked – early title
Private Revenge – translated Italian title


Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Octopussy (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987)

GoldenEye (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Die Another Day (2002)
Casino Royale (2006)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Skyfall (2012)
Spectre (2015)
No Time to Die (2021)

See also
Casino Royale (1967)
Never Say Never Again (1983)
Happy Anniversary 007: 25 Years of James Bond (1987)

Extracts included in
The James Bond Story (1999)
Premiere Bond: Die Another Day (2002)

Production Notes

The increased levels of extreme violence on display in Licence to Kill caused it to be the most heavily cut of all Bond films in the UK. Eon had wanted a 15 certificate, to attract as many of its target audience as it could. The then secretary of the British Board of Film Classification would only grant a 15 certificate if 38 seconds of violence were trimmed from the film. The death of Milton Krest in the decompression chamber was particularly cut back, losing several gruesome shots of Krest’s head swelling. A special European cut was prepared by Eon that played down some of the violence, though it was still noticeably more violent than the British version. In the States only the bare minimum of cuts were made to some of the more excessive scenes of violence while Japan was the only country in the world where the film was released completely uncut.


Castle of Frankenstein no.14 p.48
Empire August 1989 p.90 – review by (David Hepworth)
Empire June 1990 p.78 – illustrated review (by Tom Hibbert)
Interzone no.245 (March/April 2013) p.95 – review (by Tony Lee)
Monthly Film Bulletin July 1989 pp.207-208 – review (by Julian Petley)
Screen International 17 June 1989 p.22 – illustrated review (by Q.S.F.)
Starburst no.131 (July 1989) p.42 – illustrated review (by Gary Russell)
Variety 14 June 1989 p.7 – review (by Coop)

The Espionage Filmography: United States Releases, 1898 through 1999 by Paul Mavis p.176
Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.251
The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.325
The Incredible World of 007 by Lee Pfeiffer p.146 – Illustrated article
The International Spy Guide 001 by Richard Rhys Davies p.536 – illustrated credits, note