Film / Licence to Kill
Please don't bet that you'll ever escape me, once I get my sights on you...

M: This private vendetta of yours could easily compromise Her Majesty's government. You have an assignment, and I expect you to carry it out objectively and professionally.
Bond: Then you have my resignation, sir!
M: We're not a country club, 007!

The one where Bond goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. note 

The 16th James Bond film, starring Timothy Dalton in his second and last appearance as 007. When escaped drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) brutally attacks Bond's old friend Felix Leiter on his wedding night and murders Leiter's wife, Bond starts a personal vendetta against Sanchez that requires him to become a Rogue Agent in the process.

Dalton was signed to return as James Bond for a third time, but legal issues (a lawsuit concerning television licensing rights sold off cheap by the new MGM owners to finance the purchase of MGM, without approval of franchise co-owner, the Broccoli/Wilson family), coupled with reluctance, if not outright resistance, of the new MGM management in 1993 to see Dalton return once more, kept the series in a long-running hiatus (six years, the longest gap between two films in the franchise to this day) until Dalton "resigned" in April 1994. Pierce Brosnan was announced as the new James Bond in July 1994 and GoldenEye came out in November 1995.

This film contains examples of:

  • Action Dress Rip: Justified. Pam's evening dress zips off at the knee level.
  • Action Girl: Pam Bouvier is arguably the best example of the series. Other than the Bimini Bar Brawl (in which Bond really only provided the getaway vehicle), she never really needs to be saved by Bond. In fact, she saves him a few times.
  • Adaptation Distillation: An interesting one, because the movie isn't directly based on any Ian Fleming novel.
    • The film does lift Felix Leiter's shark attack from the novel Live and Let Die... the movie version of which starred David Hedison as Leiter.
    • More specifically, Milton Krest and his boat, the Wavekrest are from "The Hildebrand Rarity", although the titular rarity — a fish — doesn't appear. Krest's wife-beating habits are given to Sanchez.
    • As for The Man with the Golden Gun, Sanchez himself shares many qualities with the novel's version of Fransico Scaramanga, both being crime lords in Central America, although he's more Faux Affably Evil.
  • Affably Evil: Professor Joe Butcher is a conman, but he's never anything but pleasant. Even when Pam pulls a gun on him, or steals back her "donation", he can only smile about the whole thing. It helps that it's not his money being stolen, and he did get to see her shapely leg. It's probably the reason he's the only villain (alongside Hector Lopez, who performs a Heel–Face Turn in the end of the film) in the film who survives Bond's wrath.
  • Agents Dating: Bond resolves the Love Triangle by choosing CIA agent Pam Bouvier. During the course of the film, she poses as his "Executive Secretary", with all the implications that come with that.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Lupe. Pam has shades of it, as well.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When M tells Bond that as a secret agent, Felix knew the risks, Bond retorts, "And his wife?"
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: There is a point during Bond's assembly of the camera/sniper rifle where he ends up pointing the barrel at himself. This is even worse than it sounds, since he had loaded the gun just seconds before. Q should also get a mention in this, for designing a gun in which loading the bullets is part of the assembly process rather than something you do after its been put together.
  • Asshole Victim: Dirty Cop Ed Killifer who betrays and allows Leiter to be mauled by the shark, The Peeping Tom and incompetent Milton Krest, and the criminal accountant Truman-Lodge.
  • Ax-Crazy: Dario
  • Badass: Bond, of course.
  • Banana Republic: Isthmus City is an Expy for Panama. Sanchez even has a meeting with El Presidenté, where he informs the man that he is "replaceable".
    Sanchez: You're only President... For Life.
  • Bang Bang BANG: As an in-joke, there's a scene in the final chase where bullets ricochet off a tanker to the tune of the Bond theme.
  • Bar Brawl: Complete with Grievous Bottley Harm and Chairman of the Brawl.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Bond seems to desperately want Pam Bouvier. He vents his frustration by displaying vague hostility towards her.
  • Berserk Button: Bond accepts the violent deaths of those in the world of espionage as a fact of life; but when innocent people end up getting killed as collateral (old-flame and best friend's wife or not), on the other hand, that's when you find yourself on his bad side. And as the movie poster clearly states, Bond's bad side is a dangerous place to be.
    • Franz Sanchez does not take being screwed over very well, a trait that Bond ends up taking advantage of.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Kwang tells this to his partner. She obliges by committing Suicide by Cop, by killing one of Colonel Heller's men, prompting Colonel Heller's men to shoot her.
  • Betty and Veronica: Pam Bouvier and Lupe Lamora.
  • Big Damn Villains: Bond would have been sent straight back to England after he was caught by the undercover narcotics agents if it weren't for Colonel Heller's timely intervention.
  • Big Entrance: Leiter and Bond arrive at the wedding by skydiving from a helicopter that's dangling Sanchez's plane.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Probably the bloodiest and goriest Bond film to date.
    • This would be the first Bond movie to be rated PG-13.
  • Bond One-Liner: Oddly, by the villain.
    Sanchez: (when asked what to do about the blood-splattered money) Launder it.
    Sharkey: Oh, what a terrible waste. (Bond stares at him) Of money!
    • And of course, from the man himself…
    Bond: Don't you want to know why? Uses Felix's lighter to set Sanchez on fire.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Killifer gets a noticeably heavy suitcase with $2 million, in wads of $20s, as a reward for helping liberate Sanchez. Later becomes a case of Laser-Guided Karma when it's the item used to knock him into the shark pool. Played for Laughs when Bond arrives in Isthmus, goes to the bank manager's office, saying he wants to make a deposit. The manager politely asks why the tellers downstairs can't handle this, when the porter enters and puts down Bond's huge case with a loud thump. Cue immediate fawning from the manager, who, along with his assistant, start counting the money.
  • Bullethole Door: Pam blasts an (excessively large) hole in the wall at the Bimini bar with a shotgun.
  • Call Back: Pam's "I haven't heard that one in a long time" quip about Bond mentioning their escape boat has run out of fuel is most likely a reference to Bond and Honey Rider's similar predicament at the end of Dr. No.
    • The opening chords to this movie's theme is similar to the one to Goldfinger.
    • The horrific end to Felix's marriage to Della echoes Bond's own tragic marriage to Tracy.
    • Sanchez's iguana wears a diamond collar similar to the one Blofeld's cat had in Diamonds Are Forever.
    • "Why don't you wait until you're asked?" "Why don't you ask me?"
  • Car Skiing: The climactic chase has Bond commandeering a tanker truck and somehow managing to dodge a Stinger missile with this maneuver.
  • Cartwright Curse: Felix's marriage to Della lasted twice, possibly three times as long as Bond's marriage to Teresa. This isn't saying much.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Partially averted. Some of the gadgets Q brings to Isthmus City (the exploding alarm clock and the laser/X-ray Polaroid camera) are never used (in the field). However, if Bond doesn't succeed to assassinate Sanchez with the gun, it only responds to Bond's handprint; this saves his life later when a ninja tries shooting him with it.
    • Chekhovs Lighter: As a present to their Best Man, Felix and Della give James a lighter which overflares when he tries it out. Bond uses it to finish off Sanchez.
    • Also Felix has a flower tucked into his lapel for the wedding. Bond identifies Krest's Ocean Exotica warehouse as the place where Leiter was fed to the shark when Bond sees it among some of the garbage on the floor (that, and traces of dried blood).
  • Collapsing Lair
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Eclipse Comics adapted the story as a standalone graphic novel.
  • Continuity Nod: Felix tells Della that "[Bond] was married once, but it was a long time ago.".
  • Continuity Snarl: Only in the novel. John Gardner tries to fit it into the Bond literary canon, which makes no sense since quite a few scenes and characters from the movie are lifted from prior Fleming novels. For example: Felix Leiter gets attacked by a shark in a chapter, "Lightning strikes twice."
  • Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: To which Dario meets his demise.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Sanchez's escape, first bribing Killifer with a hefty sum and then having him drive the prison van off the road on the Key West Bridge, where his froggers are waiting.
  • Cyanide Pill: Kwang, the Hong Kong narcotics agent, bites down on one before Sanchez can interrogate him.
  • Darker and Edgier: This remains the darkest Bond flick, to the effect that some audiences were turned off by the violence. Others thought it was more faithful to the books. In fact, some scenes had to be trimmed or removed to avoid an R-rating (They were later restored for the Ultimate Edition DVD/Blu-Ray). It did get a 15, roughly equivalent in terms of what's allowed, in the UK and is the only Bond film to date to have a theatrical release rated 15.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Q actually gets to be a supporting character in this one, rather than his usual one scene appearance to give Bond his gadgets.
  • Death by Materialism: Killifer, Heller and Truman-Lodge. Inverted with Milton Krest; Sanchez only thinks he died for this.
    • Note Killifer falls into the shark enclosure when Bond throws him the suitcase full of money and he reflexively lets go of his handhold to grab it!
  • Deconstruction: Bond going rogue had been hinted in previous films (Goldfinger, and most notably On Her Majesty's Secret Service), but never really explored until now. Licence to Kill really doesn't show this in a flattering light, considering the number of innocent people who end up dead because of Bond's vendetta.
  • Dirt Forcefield: One of the few movies where Bond doesn't have it. By the end of the final action sequence, he's covered in sweat, blood, dirt, and gasoline.
  • Dirty Cop: Ed Killifer is bribed by Sanchez into helping break him out.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Twice for Bond. The first time when Pam shows up at the bank, having gotten a new haircut and decent set of clothes. The second time when she strips down to her underwear as she and Bond load Sanchez's money on to the Wave Krest to frame Krest.
  • Disturbed Doves: Bond dislodges a few while rappelling to attach plastic explosives next to Sanchez's office window.
  • The Dragon: Heller and Dario.
  • Driving a Desk: There are scenes where Sanchez and his cronies pretend to drive through long stretches of Isthmus's highways.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: Bond is present "only as an observer" so doesn't get the credit for capturing Sanchez, who ends up retaliating against the wrong man.
  • Dull Surprise: Lupe. As mistress to a drug lord, you can't really blame her.
  • The Easy Way or the Hard Way: Sanchez to Bond after he's exposed as a spy. When Bond refuses to say anything at all, Sanchez orders him put on the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom.
  • End of an Age: In many ways, as the last Bond film to be made before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the last film to feature title sequences by Maurice Binder, the last to use the classic office sets for M & Moneypenny (at least until Skyfall), the last to feature Smoking Is Cool throughout the film, the last film with Albert R. Broccoli as an active producer, and the last not to have any CGI (and thus, also the last to feature cheesy rear projection shots).
  • Establishing Character Moment: In Sanchez's first scene, as he finds his girlfriend Lupe in bed with another man, he has Dario, Perez and Braun kill the boyfriend by cutting out his heart, and he personally whips her with a stingray tail. This is all that's needed to tell us that Sanchez is a lot worse than your average Bond villain.
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: Done when Bond is discovered by Krest's guards in the Ocean Exotica.
  • Explosive Decompression: A variant thereof.
  • Expy: Sharkey appears to be one of the Quarrel family.
    • Sanchez, a South American druglord who liberally bribes and kills anyone who gets in his way, is one for Pablo Escobar. "Plomo o plata" is even directly referenced.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Both Killifer and Krest are nauseated by Sanchez dipping Leiter into the shark pool.
      • Especially telling because when the scene is later mimicked with Bond throwing Killifer in the same pool, while Sharkey looks away in horror, Bond isn't disturbed at all and keeps watching.
    • Pam mentions that Dario "Used to be with the Contras until they kicked him out".
    • A mook truck driver rescues his companion from the burning vehicle.
    • Anti-Hero example; Bond frames Krest for embezzlement so that Sanchez will kill him, but he is visibly shocked by the manner that Sanchez chooses to kill him.
  • Everything's Even Worse With Sharks: Felix loses part of his left leg to a shark. Said shark also eats Killifer.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Sanchez is a hospitable enough guy that you almost forget that in other scenes, he whips Lupe with a stingray, has a guy's heart literally cut out, had Della Leiter raped and killed, feeds Felix Leiter to a shark, and shoves Krest into a decompression chamber (after being tricked into thinking that Krest had betrayed him).
  • Fixing the Game: Bond is cleaning up the pit bosses while playing blackjack in Sanchez's casino. Sanchez sends Lupe in to replace the dealer. After Lupe expertly shuffles and cuts the deck, Bond asks if he is going to lose. Lupe replies yes, but not much. Bond quits the game. It's ambiguous if Lupe is actually fixing the game or is just better at playing it. It's a bit odd for a casino to rig one blackjack table since the House always wins.
  • Forklift Fu: Heller is impaled on a forklift by Sanchez.
  • A Friend in Need: Even after Bond becomes a Rogue Agent, Moneypenny arranges to send Q with a bagful of his handy gadgets.
  • The Generalissimo: Hector Lopez.
  • Giggling Villain: Dario.
  • Graceful Loser: Joe Butcher responds to Pam locking him in a room and later robbing him with a cheery, "Bless your heart!"
  • Guile Hero: Bond.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Bond using a handful of maggots at the Ocean Exotica, and a fire extinguisher during the end chase.
  • Hero Antagonist: M becomes this as he tries to reign in Bond, who has gone rogue and is up to some increasingly reckless antics in his personal vendetta. There is also Fallon ("our man in Isthmus" according to M) and the Hong Kong narcotics agents (remember, Hong Kong was a British crown colony at the time), who capture Bond for possibly blowing their undercover operation against Sanchez.
    • Ironically, Bond manages to take down Sanchez in just a few days while the Hong Kong narcotics agents had tried "to set him up for years". This is only because Bond just has to kill Sanchez. The international authorities, like the DEA and the Hong Kong agents, are trying to gather evidence to put him in a federal prison cell and dismantle his empire.
  • Hero Harasses Helpers: Bond constantly looks down upon Pam throughout the film.
  • High-Speed Hijack: Bond does this when he hijacks one of Sanchez's tankers in the climactic chase. He drops onto the back of the tanker from a light plane before climbing into the cab where he gets into a knife fight with the driver before finally forcing him out and taking control of the truck.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Sanchez would probably have been much more safe if he'd just returned straight to Isthmus after paying off Killifer. His decision to retaliate against Leiter is what costs him his entire drug empire and life in the end.
    • Killifer, Leiter's DEA partner, sells him and Della out for $2 million. Later, when Bond has him dangling over a shark pit containing the same shark that Leiter was fed to, Killifer desperately offers Bond the money, only for Bond to decide he should keep it... by throwing it, and the metal case it's in, right at him. This causes Killifer to lose his grip and fall right into the shark pit, and promptly get eaten. It was a terrible waste... of money.
  • Hollywood Density: Averted with the Briefcase Full of Money. The briefcase that Sanchez uses to pay Killifer for liberating him is noticeably heavy. So is the briefcase Bond takes to the Banco di Isthmus.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After all the times Q has criticized Bond in previous movies for the mistreatment of his gadgets, seeing him casually toss aside a rake radio transmitter after using it to report Bond's whereabouts to Pam is almost too funny to bear.
  • I Work Alone: Bond adopts (and even states) this mentality to Q and Pam. It's implied that he's going solo because he doesn't want their deaths on his hands, given what happened to Leiter. Notably, every time he pulls this trope, he ends up either changing his mind and realising that he needs their help or getting into trouble that one of them (usually Pam) has to help extricate him from.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Colonel Heller, with a forklift truck. Attempted on Bond in the Bar Brawl with a swordfish. The look on Bond's face when the chair he uses barely deflects it is priceless.
  • Improvised Weapon: Pam saves Bond from several mooks by cropdusting them.
    • A mook improvises a spear out of a swordfish.
  • It's Personal: The entire premise. Bond is not only doing it for Felix and Della, it's like he's avenging what happened to his own dead wife.
  • Just Between You and Me: See below. Inverted, since it's the hero revealing his reason to the villain.
  • Karmic Death: "Don't you want to know why?"
    • Happens earlier with Killifer. Dangling above the same Shark Pool Felix had been lowered into, he desperately offers to split his payoff with Bond. Bond, however, answers "You earned it. You keep it, old buddy.", and throws it at him, making him fall in and get eaten.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Sanchez's murder of Krest by putting him in a decompression airlock.
  • Kill It with Fire: Sanchez' death, and a few mooks during the final chase.
  • Layman's Terms: Bond has to explain to the guard working at Krest's marine research warehouse that a Carcharodon carcharias is a Great White Shark. The guard failing to recognize the Latin term is the first clue that Bond has found the place where Leiter was fed to the shark.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The fact that Bond's waterskiing-plane hijacking stunt is so incredible and borderline ridiculous is actually a factor influencing Sanchez's judgment of Krest when he grills him about losing the money and the cocaine.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: Ed Killifer, a DEA agent who easily takes a $2 million dollar bribe to spring Sanchez from federal custody.
  • Machete Mayhem: Sanchez's gasoline truck drivers are apparently armed with machetes, in case of hostile takeover. The man himself is also holding one when he confronts Bond in the climax.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Bond himself basically become the Iago to Sanchez's Othello, except that this time Sanchez really, really deserves it.
  • Man on Fire: Sanchez starts out this way, followed by Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Market-Based Title: The U.S. posters featuring 'license', as per the American standard.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Robert Davi as Sanchez.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The movie itself due to the excessive violence. Plus, at least six other blockbusters crowded this movie out of the market in the summer of 1989, making some believe it really was the licence to kill the franchise. At the very least, it prevented any future Bond films from being released in the summer. Later they almost did this with Quantum of Solace, though, although they may have been spooked by the prospect of running against an Indiana Jones and Batman film in the summer...again.
    • Pam Bouvier's name, and her alias 'Miss Kennedy' are a reference to JFK's wife, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
    • In-universe acknowledgement: One of Krest's froggers comments on Sharkey's poor choice of nickname. Guess how he dies?
    • It probably shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise that Killifer ends up dead early on.
  • The Mole: All over the place.
    • Ed Killifer helps Sanchez escape and sells Leiter out to him.
    • On the other side, Colonel Heller is trying to sell Sanchez's Stinger missiles back to the Americans in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
    • Kwang infiltrates Sanchez's circle posing as a Chinese drug baron, and Lupe aids Bond in convincing Sanchez that Krest is a Mole (or at least a traitor), when in fact he is loyal.
    • Bond himself is sort-of this, and for a moment believes Pam is one when he sees her meeting with Heller through the lens of his sniper rifle.
  • More Dakka:
    • Realizing a lethal Bar Brawl is imminent, Bond shows Pam his holstered Walther PPK. She gives him a contemptuous look and shows she's holding a shotgun under the table.
    • Heller launches an assault on Kwang's hideout with a tank!
    • The trope backfires on Sanchez when he uses his precious Stingers on Bond and Pam, and at far too close a range to activate the explosive.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Carey Lowell, especially for those into Girls with Guns when she pulls a pistol from her sexy blue sequined dress, and Talisa Soto, who spends most of the movie either dressed in revealing clothes or just a Modesty Bedsheet.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He doesn't say it, but it's hinted by Bond's mild Heroic B.S.O.D. reaction after Pam tells him that Sanchez has acquired Stinger missiles and is threatening to shoot down a civilian airliner in retaliation for the DEA arresting him. Furthermore, Bond's assassination attempt spooked the potential Mole that Pam was trying to persuade to help get them off Sanchez. Notably, whereas up to that point his focus has pretty much been 'make Sanchez dead ASAP', his goals broaden to include dismantling Sanchez's entire operation while he's at it.
  • Mythology Gag: At the Hemingway House, Bond is led to a shadowy figure stroking a cat, a la Blofeld, but it turns out to be M.
  • Neutral Female: Lupe Lamora.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As noted, Bond's quest for revenge ends up screwing up the actual plans other law enforcement agencies had in place, and gets a lot of them killed.
  • Ninja : Working for Hong Kong Narcotics. Face, meet palm.
  • Noble Demon: Sanchez thinks of himself as this. Ends up being a cheap thug at the conclusion.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Krest, who dies from Explosive Decompression, and Dario, who dies by going through a coke grinder.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: The "signature gun" will only fire when it registers Bond's palm print on the stock. This saves Bond's life when a ninja snatches it and tries to shoot Bond.
  • Nothing Personal: Sanchez says this to Felix right before he dips him into the shark pool.
    Sanchez: I want you to know this is nothing personal, is purely (pause) business.
  • Offing the Mouth: Truman Lodge, Sanchez's accountant. He's the helper that gets more and more snarky about the money loss that the typical Bond-brand Roaring Rampage of Revenge is giving them (Supervillain Lair-slash-drug lab blown up sky-high, Evil Minions killed, secret stolen Stinger missiles that they were going to sell on the black market wasted on trying to kill Bond, etc) as the movie goes on. Sanchez eventually gets enough during the final action sequence, and with a proper Pre-Mortem One-Liner shoots him dead with an Uzi.
    Sanchez: I guess it's time to start cutting overhead.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Timothy Dalton. His Northern accent is more evident than before in this film, although such 'slippage' might have been intentional.
  • Outside Ride: Bond and Sanchez clings to the outside of gasoline tanker trucks during the films climatic chase scene.
  • Overt Operative: Justified — Bond is able to infiltrate Sanchez's operation as himself, having just been kicked out of MI6. Given Sanchez already has ex-CIA members like Colonel Heller working for him, this is nothing unusual and there's nothing there to make Sanchez be suspicious of Bond's background.
  • Path of Inspiration: Professor Joe Butcher, a New Age Scam Religion TV evangelist and head of the Olympatec Meditation Institute. Its main purpose is as a front for Sanchez's drug operation and donations invariably end up funding that, with "targets" in donations actually being drug dealer speak for agreeing new market prices for their product.
    • Truman-Lodge mentions to the Orientals that they started the Olympatec Meditation Institute strictly as a cover for the underground distribution center below it, but Butcher has found a way to make it profitable in and of itself.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil
  • Pet the Dog:
    Bond: Q.... you would have made a terrific field agent.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Q, even more so than before.
  • Porn Stache: Part of Q's fisherman disguise.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: Dario and his men taunt Felix Leiter with news of their murder of his new wife, among other things telling him, "We gave her a nice honeymooooooooooon," with obvious implications, before they feed Felix to the shark.
  • Precision F-Strike: Q tells Pam not to be upset at Bond spending the night with Lupe, as it's something often required by his job. Pam's response: "Bullshit!" Quite shocking given the lack of profanity in the series before then.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Perhaps the most serious, heartfelt in a Bond film.
    Franz Sanchez: You could have had everything.
    Bond: Don't you want to know why?
    [takes out the lighter Felix gave him, and sets Sanchez on fire]
    • Sanchez gets one himself.
      Truman-Lodge: Brilliant! Well done, Franz! Another eighty-million dollar write-off!
      Sanchez: Then I guess it's time to start cutting overhead. (shoots Truman-Lodge with a Uzi)
    • And Pam:
      Dario: You're dead!
      Pam: Took the words right out of my mouth! *Shoots Dario*
    • There's also "Compliments of Sharkey!", right before Bond harpoons Krest's frogman and kicks off the water-skiing chase.
  • President for Life: Hector Lopez, the "president"note  of the Banana Republic of Isthmus. Sanchez uses this line as a threat that means — if he doesn't cooperate, "for life" means "until I no longer approves of you being the puppet president".
  • Product Placement:
    • The title sequence is literally a commercial for Olympus cameras. It shows the brand name several times and has a photography theme that doesn't correlate to anything in the movie. One of Bond's gadgets is disguised as a camera...and that's it. Its not even one that he uses; Pam does, but only because she mistook it for a real camera.
    • Both the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and Sanchez's private helicopter prominently display the logo of Aerospatiale, the French aircraft manufacturing company of both of the helicopter models shown.
    • Bond's remote control for the detonator features the Philips logo, and the detonator is disguised in a pack of Lark cigarettes.
    • The Kenworth logo is visible several times during the tanker chase.
    • Bond orders a case of Bollinger R.D. when arriving at the hotel in Isthmus.
    • The signature gun is a Hasselblad camera.
  • Psycho for Hire: Dario. Apparently he was too extreme for the Contras.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: Bond pulls one of Krest's men into a tank full of maggots.
  • Race for Your Love: Bond chases after Pam at the end of the film. The chase involves him jumping to a pool.
  • Rape as Drama: Della, Leiter's wife, was tortured and raped before being murdered, as evidenced by the line that Dario gave her "a nice honeymoooon".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Timothy Dalton revealed in a 2007 interview that his Bond was not allowed to have too much sex, because his films were released at the height of the AIDS epidemic. To this end, Bond only actually has sex with one woman in Licence, and it's entirely offscreen.
  • Reality Ensues: Hey, you know those cool-but-improbable stunts that James Bond does in every movie? Ever wondered what it would be like to be the unfortunate mook who has to explain to his less-than-impressed boss exactly what happened in every unbelievable detail? Welcome to Krest's world.
  • Red Right Hand: Dario has a metal tooth on his upper jaw.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Pam has a stovepipe malfunction, but it's subverted when in the time Pam could correct it Dario has already assured a nasty death by falling into a shredder.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: As M stated, "We are not a country club, 007!". M could not fire Bond or allow him to resign - only revoke his licence to kill. This invokes a bit of Fridge Horror while you really think about it.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Averted; Krest wants to kill Killifer, but Sanchez insists on paying him as agreed.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Sanchez's pet iguana (with a diamond collar).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Unusually for a Bond film, basic premise is not Bond going on yet another mission for MI6, this time he goes rogue to avenge the Leiters, as Felix has lost his leg to a shark and Della has been raped and murdered.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank: Bond steals from Krest, uses the money to establish his credentials as a corrupt ex-MI6 agent, then plants the remainder back on Krest so Sanchez will kill him in the depressurization tank.
  • Rogue Agent: Bond.
  • Romantic False Lead: The film leads the viewer into thinking Lupe will be Bond's romance in the film (nope, she's better off with El Presidente), while he ends up with Pam, who for the latter part of the film grumbles about Bond and Lupe, "What Does He See in Her?"
  • R-Rated Opening: The movie opens with Sanchez finding Lupe in bed with another man, having her lover's heart cut out, and personally beating her with a stingray tail whip, letting you know that Sanchez is a lot more menacing than any Bond villain you'll come across with the possible exception of Raoul Silva from Skyfall.
  • Safety in Muggles: After Bond "resigns" and escapes to the street, M stops a guard from shooting because they can't risk hitting a civilian.
  • Say My Name: Dario screams for Sanchez as he's going into the cocaine grinder.
  • Scam Religion: Professor Joe Butcher is a televangelist who operates the Olimpatec Meditation Institute; a front organization for drug lord Franz Sanchez's illicit operations. Originally started by Sanchez merely as a cover, he later notes that Professor Joe manages to turn a 'tidy profit' from it.
  • See You in Hell: Felix yells this (with some Narm, sadly) at Sanchez when he gets dunked into the shark pool. As Sanchez only intends to mutilate him, it backfires:
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Pam's evening dress.
  • Shark Pool: The Ocean Exotica has one. Somewhat justified in that it occurs in a marine research facility.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: While Pam is insulted to be Bond's "secretary", when she shows up at the bank in the dress she bought with the money Bond gave her, Bond is so stunned by how beautiful she is, he does a Double Take.
  • She's Got Legs: Pam, and how!
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Especially in bar brawls.
  • Shout-Out: Bond is taken to Hemingway House to turn in his licence and his weapon. He comments that it's "a farewell to arms". Subtle...
    • Pam's liking for .25 Berettas, Bond's Weapon of Choice in the novels before he was forced to change to the Walther PPK.
  • Shut Up and Save Me!: "SWITCH THE BLOODY MACHINE OFF! " (which is kind of a Bond One-Liner, as Dario had just fallen into said machine, a shredder)
  • Slasher Smile: Dario enjoys flashing one of these.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: The first Bond film to reach Level 5. Despite Bond's concerns, Pam frequently shows she can handle herself, in fact saving him a few times throughout the film.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Averted. The end credits sport a Surgeon General's Warning in reference to the use of tobacco products in the film
  • Sniper Rifle: Disguised as a camera. With a palm print reader programmed so that only Bond can fire it.
  • So Proud of You: Bond takes time to tell Q he makes a great field agent.
  • Something Completely Different: Part of why this film was poorly received (in the States) was how extremely atypical it was from previous Bond films. This time, Bond's not on a mission by MI6, fighting for queen and country, he's on his own fighting for himself and his friends.
  • Spotting the Thread: The first indication to Bond that Krest's Ocean Exotica facility is up to no good is when the guard at the door fails to recognize the words Carcharodon carcharias as Latin for a great white shark.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Pam Bouvier is 5'10, while Lupe Lamora is 5'8. Both women are gorgeous.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Bouvier is incensed that she has to play the part of Bond's "executive secretary" and not the other way around, and Bond has to remind her that they are operating south of the border, which has more of a "stay in the kitchen" culture than the United States has.
  • Stealth Pun: Felix's lighter. Get it? What's even funnier is that they had explicitly used that pun in Live and Let Die - the other film where David Hedison played Leiter.
  • Suicide by Cop: Kwang tells his partner it is Better to Die Than Be Killed. She obliges by committing suicide by cop, by killing one of Colonel Heller's men, prompting Colonel Heller's men to shoot her.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Given who Sanchez is, can you honestly blame Lupe for cheating on him twice? First with the unnamed man who gets his heart cut out for sleeping her, and then sleeping with Bond.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Bond, Sanchez and Dario all stand 6'2 and all men have gruff a demeanor.
  • Tautological Templar: M and MI6, who acts as the Hero Antagonists towards Bond in contrast to their past and later appearances, operates by showing No Sympathy to Felix Leiter's tragedy (equivalent to acting as Ungrateful Bastards since Leiter has put his life on the line for Bond and them in the past), willing to allow the Big Bad to undergo Karma Houdini, not caring if their American allies are useless despite Bond flat out telling them that they are not going to do anything to stop Sanchez and hiring corrupt agents to take Bond in for being a Rogue Agent or possibly execute him after all the past service Bond done for them through lethal injection if the needle crooked agent Fallon was preparing was not a sedative.
  • Title Drop:
    M: Your licence to kill is revoked.
    • Subverted in that the title theme is "License To Kill".
  • To the Pain: As Sanchez puts Bond on an conveyor belt into a cocaine grinder.
    Sanchez: When it gets up to your ankles, you're going to beg to tell me everything. When it gets up to your knees, you'll kiss my ass to kill you!
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Robert Brown's M, the Hero Antagonist in his two scenes, who shows No Sympathy towards Bond's vendetta to avenge Felix and his late wife to point he scoffs "Oh, spare me the sentimental rubbish," issues a man hunt on Bond when he goes rogue and sent out his agent Fallon, who's presumably corrupt in comparisons to other MI6 agents in the films, to arrest Bond, dead or alive. That's right, M is preventing Bond from going after Sanchez. One has to wonder that given the recasting of the role with Judi Dench starting in GoldenEye, and the fact M is a Legacy Character, if Brown's M was forced to step down from his position in between the Dalton and Brosnan films due to sinking to a new low by his somewhat heartless mishandling of this situation with Bond's pursuit of Sanchez.
      • The real issue with M's actions are that he never tells Bond that there are several operations going on in Isthmus City, and that he has "a man" in town working on Sanchez. When Bond asks incredulously that they're doing nothing, he should have replied they did have something going on, and to cool his jets while they dealt with a delicate situation.
    • Bond himself, who becomes more brooding to the point that in different scenes, he interrogates Lupe and Pam Bouvier like a police detective interrogating a criminal suspect due to their connections to Sanchez.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Pam and Lupe respectively.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Bond's lighter.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: As Sanchez is being transported across a bridge, the armoured truck is forced into the water where scuba divers rescue him from the back of the truck.
  • Turn in Your Badge / Rogue Agent: The premise of the film is Bond resigning his License to Kill to go after Sanchez.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Possibly.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: After Bond destroys Sanchez's drug lab, he chases down the gasoline tanker trucks used to smuggle the cocaine.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: "We're Hong Kong Narcotics, you bastard!"
  • Vapor Trail: Bond opens the valve on Sanchez's tanker to let out the cocaine-filled fuel. Unsurprisingly, the trail of fuel catches fire.
  • Vapor Wear: It doesn't take much of a close look to see that Pam isn't wearing anything under the dress she has on during the climax.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Initially, Sanchez treats his men well. At the end, where everything's falling to pieces, he's gunning them down with MAC-10s for being annoying. Also an example of a Blofeld Ploy.
  • The Voiceless: Braun.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: An inside man arranges for Sanchez to escape while being transported from Key West to Quantico.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pam Bouvier calls Bond out when she and Q catch up to him in Isthmus for letting his personal vendetta endanger a critical DEA plan to cripple Sanchez's operation. In Bond's defence, he didn't know about the operation: the DEA had led him to believe that nothing was happening. Technically, it wasn't. Kwang is a Hong Kong Narcotics agent, hence why the DEA picked up Sanchez at the start in the first place. Pam herself is CIA: she's referring to Sanchez's owning Stinger missiles he was threatening to use to shoot down American passenger planes if the U.S. didn't stop harassing him. Her operation was trying to get the Stinger missiles back, but Bond's assassination attempt spooked her contact. This, combined with Bond realizing he blew Kwang's operation as well, makes him realize his Roaring Rampage of Revenge wasn't that clean and simple. Of course, Bond being Bond, he ultimately demolishes it single-handedly. It would be awesome except a lot of good agents and people were killed by his fuck ups.
    • Earlier, Bond gets one from M after the former drops Killifer into the shark tank without the authority from the Americans or M.
    • Bond couldn't have known, but Kwang had managed to raise Sanchez's suspicions independently by asking all of the wrong questions.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Krest trying to explain to Sanchez how Bond stole his money then made an escape by diving off the boat, and hijacking a plane mid-flight. "Would I make up a story like that?"
  • Your Head A Splode: Poor Krest. You almost feel sorry for him that he had to die by the decompression chamber.