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Film / Licence to Kill

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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 is out for vengeance, and ends up fighting a Tony Montana Expy.

Licence to Kill is the sixteenth James Bond film of Eon Productions, the fifth and last to be directed by John Glen and the second and last to star Timothy Dalton. It was released on July 14, 1989. Gladys Knight performed the Title Theme Tune.

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. Along the way, he gains the help of CIA agent Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell).

Notably, the film is the first in the series that was not named after an Ian Fleming story. The plot does, however, take some inspiration from the James Bond short story "The Hildebrand Rarity" as well as the novel of Live and Let Die. It is the first James Bond movie to be rated PG-13. It is also the first and so far only film in the series to not have any scene filmed at Pinewood Studios.

In many ways, this movie was the End of an Era:

  • It's the last film starring Timothy Dalton.
  • It's the last film that would adapt elements and characters from Ian Fleming's books (apart from Bond and MI6 characters, of course) until Casino Royale in 2006.
  • It was the fifth and final Bond film to be directed by John Glen;
  • The last to feature actors Robert Brown as M and Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny;
  • The last film to feature Felix Leiter until the Daniel Craig films;
  • The last Bond film shot during the Cold War, although the plot isn't related to it;
  • The final Bond film to have any editing done by John Grover.
  • The final Bond film co-written by Richard Maibaum, who wrote or co-wrote 13 of the first 16 films in the franchise. Maibaum passed away in 1991.
  • The final Bond film with opening credits by Maurice Binder, who was responsible for the opening credits for 14 of the 16 first films in the franchise. Binder also passed away in 1991.
  • The final Bond film produced for Albert R. Broccoli, after 16 consecutive films made over the course of 27 years. Broccoli retired years later and his daughter Barbara Broccoli and stepson Michael G. Wilson became the new producers, starting with GoldenEye in 1995. Broccoli passed away in 1996.

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 owner, Italian fraudster Giancarlo Parretti, 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 (after Parretti was arrested and his bank, France's Credit Lyonnais, assumed control) to see Dalton return once more, kept the series in a long-running hiatus (six and a half years, the longest gap between two films in the franchise to this day) until Dalton officially resigned in April 1994. Pierce Brosnan was then announced as the new James Bond in July of that year.

Preceded by The Living Daylights and followed by GoldenEye.

This film contains examples of:

  • 555: The hotline for donating to Professor Joe's scam religion is 555-LOVE.
  • The '80s: Bond is a lone man-on-the-edge Cowboy Cop fighting a Latin American drug dealer who's bringing in wealthy Hong Kong businessmen to sell cocaine all over the world and whose henchmen include an ex-Green Beret, an ex-Contra, a yuppie banker, and a televangelist. Every car is boxy as hell, Pan-Am Airlines still exists, and Pam has trendy short '80s Hair and a background as an army pilot in Central American warzones. Bond himself is perilously close to having a mullet, the series' gore has never been higher, and the ending song is a synthesizer-backed love ballad. This is probably the Bond movie that most screams "'80s action movie" ever.
    • A small detail that very much dates the movie in the 80s, is Sanchez' scheme to smuggle cocaine to Asia by diluting it in gasoline. Following the price crash in the 80s after the 70s gas shortage, this sounds not too bad. By modern standard, one might feel inclined to think that Sanchez might as well ditch the cocaine and just sell the gas.
  • Action Dress Rip: Justified. Pam's evening dress zips off at the knee level.
  • Action Girl: Pam Bouvier is one of the best examples 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 Amalgamation: An interesting one, because the movie isn't directly based on any Ian Fleming novel - instead, it's mainly constructed around plot elements that were dropped from earlier adaptations.
    • The film lifts Felix Leiter's shark attack - down to the "He disagreed with something that ate him" note - from the novel Live and Let Die... the movie version of which starred David Hedison as Leiter. Plus, both stories have the villains using tropical fish for the purposes of smuggling, though whereas in the book it was pirate booty, in the film, it's drugs.
    • 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 transferred to Sanchez.
    • As for The Man with the Golden Gun, Sanchez himself shares many qualities with the novel's version of Francisco Scaramanga, both being crime lords in Central America, although he's more Faux Affably Evil. It also lifts the plot of Bond joining him as a "problem eliminator" to destroy his operation from within. Sanchez even looks a bit like Scaramanga and they even have some similarities in their names (Both are named '[variation of Frank] [surname that starts with S]').
  • 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.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Sanchez is essentially Pablo Escobar as a Bond Villain: a vicious madman willing to do as much violence as necessary to make his enemies (with the United States Government explicitly mentioned, but his plans are visibly world-wide) back off and let him do his drug dealing unimpended.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Lupe. Pam has shades of it, as well.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear if the syringe MI6 agent Fallon was preparing to inject the Rogue Agent Bond with was a lethal injection or a sedative. If the former, then Fallon's saying of having Bond shipped straight back to London means Fallon intended to ship Bond's corpse in a coffin back to British HQ after having him executed for insubordination, going along with this film's darker and shady Tautological Templar depiction of MI6.
  • And Show It to You: Sanchez's threat of "cutting his heart out" wasn't a metaphor, and thankfully, we never see it.
  • And This Is for...:
    • When Bond's ally, Sharkey, is killed by one of Sanchez's goons, Bond makes sure to pay the guy back with a spear gun. "Compliments of Sharkey."
    • Bond shows Sanchez the engraved lighter that the Leiters gave him at their wedding so that Sanchez knows why Bond went to all the lengths he did to seek vengeance on him, before immolating him with it.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: When M tells Bond that as a secret agent, Felix knew the risks, Bond retorts, "Did his wife?"
  • Artistic Licence – 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 it's been put together.
  • Artistic Licence – Physics:
    • It is completely impossible to catch up to something you are being towed by. As soon as you let go of the rope, you would immediately begin to fall behind (especially since Bond is water-skiing barefoot, and as such would have a lot more friction with the water). If the plane slowed down or turned, it might be allowable, but it is clearly accelerating, in order to take off.
    • And that's to say nothing of Bond balancing an eighteen-wheeler on just one side and maintaining his momentum for nearly a full minute without sending the truck tipping over.
    • When Perez has Bond's tanker in his sights, there's no sign of the one he actually hits (behind Bond's).
  • Asshole Victim: Ed Killifer betrays and allows Leiter to be mauled by the shark. Then there's the Dirty Old Man and incompetent Milton Krest, and the criminal accountant Truman-Lodge; the last one's main offence, however, is just pissing his boss off at the wrong time.
  • Authority in Name Only: Sanchez is the true dictator of Isthmus, and the guy who has the title of "El Presidente" is just a figurehead. Lampshaded when Sanchez reminds him, "You're only president for life".
  • Ax-Crazy: Dario is a handsome but monstrous young man who was so extreme that even The Contras kicked him out. He personally cut the heart out of the man Lupe was sleeping with, implied to have raped and murdered Della Leiter and who just loves to cause gruesome mayhem with a creepy giggle and a Slasher Smile. (If you watched the movie and thought, hey, this guy's got a future, you were right: ladies and gentlemen, introducing Benicio del Toro.)
  • Badass Bystander: A nameless, seemingly-ordinary truck driver manages to hold his against Bond himself when Bond attempts a High-Speed Hijack on his truck. He survives, and is thrown from his truck.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: 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.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Bond kills Killifer by throwing his Briefcase Full of Money at him so he falls into a Shark Pool. Unusually it's Sharkey who gives the Bond One-Liner.
    Sharkey: God, what a terrible waste. [Bond stares at him] Of money!
  • 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.
    • Less literally but somewhat more disturbingly, Bond views the United States as having elements of this too ("looks like Sanchez' law operates north of the border too.") It's harsh, but not unfair: while Killifer is outraged that Sanchez thinks he can simply bribe his way out like he's in "some banana republic," he breaks him out himself as soon as the bribe is raised from one to two million dollars. Note also that between Krest, Heller, Butcher, and Truman-Lodge, most of Sanchez' underlings are Americans too.
  • 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.
  • Benevolent Boss: Sanchez starts off this way (as long as subordinates are very loyal to him). However, when James Bond becomes The Mole and manipulates him into paranoia, he becomes a Bad Boss who kills his subordinates.
  • Berserk Button: 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 is Betty: reliable, responsible, and a fellow agent, and Lupe is Veronica: exotic, mischievous, and more forbidden as she's the villain's girlfriend.
  • Big Entrance: Leiter and Bond arrive at the wedding by skydiving from a helicopter that's dangling Sanchez's plane.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Bond infiltrates Sanchez's private area over the bank by taking advantage of a party Sanchez is throwing for his new Chinese investors. In a twist, since he has no chance of impersonating one of the guests, he does it by picking up a tray and pretending to be a waiter for long enough to get past security.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Probably the bloodiest and goriest Bond film to date. It's the first Bond film to be rated PG-13. In fact, it was originally slapped with an R rating by the MPAA, and had to have its gorier moments trimmed to get the lower, more marketable rating. As an amusing sign of how standards have changed over the years, when the Bond films were remastered in 2006, the original cut that got an R in 1989 was given a PG-13 this time.
  • Bond One-Liner: Bond himself has very few in this film, in keeping with Dalton's more serious portrayal of the character. Instead, the script gives out more than usual to other characters:
    • By the villain.
      Sanchez: [when asked what to do about the blood-splattered money] Launder it.note 
    • There's one in note form, "He disagreed with something that ate him.", which was lifted from the original novel of Live and Let Die. The film version also had David Hedison as Felix Leiter.
    • There's also one by Dario, "Don't worry, we gave her a nice honeymoon!"
    • Sharkey's reaction to Killifer's death. Also a Bait-and-Switch Comment.
      Sharkey: God, what a terrible waste. [Bond stares at him] Of money!
    • Bond himself does get one of the smartest Bond One-Liners of all time; At Ernest Hemingway's house, when Bond is asked to hand over his gun, "I guess this is A Farewell to Arms."
    • There's also Bond's "Bon Appetit!" after locking the unconscious guard in a big drawer full of maggots (never mind that maggots don't eat living flesh), harking back to when he threw a henchman into a pool of piranha fish in You Only Live Twice.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted; once Bond is exposed Sanchez does make sure that he is sliding towards the shredder and only leaves because the factory's blowing up around them. Even then Dario stays to finish the job and the only reason Bond survives is the unforseeable intervention of Pam.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Bond attempts to take out Sanchez. He delivers the boom, but Kwang's agents thwart him on the critical shot.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Pam sports this, trimming it down from '80s Hair after an (offscreen) Expository Hairstyle Change.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: Sanchez is freed from his custody by his men with the help of Killifer not even a day after having been arrested.
  • Brick Joke: At one point, Sanchez is holding his pet iguana, which is wearing a diamond collar. Lupe is visibly uncomfortable and says "You know I hate that thing." At the end of the movie after Sanchez is killed, Bond and the others are at El Presidente's party and Bond sees her lovingly caress the iguana. He says, "I thought you said you hated that thing." Lupe responds, "Don't you know? A lizard is a girl's best friend," while wearing its collar as a bracelet.
  • 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. Naturally, said manager is crestfallen when he realizes Bond intends to withdraw everything later.
  • Bullethole Door: Pam blasts an (excessively large) hole in the wall at the Bimini bar with a shotgun.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Dario manages to shoot Pam in the back as she and Bond escape from the bar. Luckily, her top was made of kevlar.
  • 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?"
    • When Bond and Pam are told that his "uncle" has arrived, they suspect it's a hitman, similar to how in Live and Let Die, he's suspicious when he's informed "Mrs. Bond" has arrived at his San Monique hotel.
    • When Pam is attempting to land her plane after it had been shot, the wings are clipped in a somewhat similar fashion as in Live and Let Die.
  • Car Skiing: The climactic chase has Bond commandeering a tanker truck and somehow managing to dodge a Stinger missile with this maneuver.
  • The Cartel: Sanchez' cocaine business is described as an "invisible empire from Chile to Alaska".
  • 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.
  • Casting Gag: Grand L. Bush plays a DEA agent tasked with apprehending Sanchez, played by Robert Davi. The two men appeared together as FBI Agent Johnson and Special Agent Johnson (no relation) respectively in Die Hard the year prior.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: This is James Bond's only protection against someone's Shamu Fu in the Bar Brawl. It is notable for failing to block the top of the swordfish.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Della and Felix Leiter give Bond a cigarette lighter as a wedding present. It is later used to light an petrol/cocaine soaked Franz Sanchez on fire, sending him to his doom.
  • 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.
    • 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).
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Pam has one after Bond's thwarted assassination of Sanchez, her first in half a decade.
  • Clip Its Wings: Pam's crop-duster gets clipped by the stinger missile Perez fires at her. She manages to put the plane down on a dirt road, but the road runs into a narrow canyon. Unable to stop in time, the wings of the plane are torn off on the canyon walls.
  • Co-Dragons: Dario, Perez and Braun. Sanchez trusts each one implicitly and they all three seem to hold the same amount of authority in his organization.
  • Collapsing Lair: Bond throws a beaker of petrol at a Bunsen burner, which causes a chain reaction that ends up destroying Sanchez's operation. Justified in that they have loads of it to mix with the cocaine.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Eclipse Comics adapted the story as a standalone graphic novel.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Sanchez has a Right Hand Iguana with a diamond necklace.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Continuity Snarl: The novelization. In the foreword, John Gardner claims it's not meant to be in continuity with his continuing series. Nevertheless, he tries to fit it into the Bond literary continuity, which makes things more complicated, since quite a few scenes and characters from the movie are lifted directly from prior Fleming novels. Felix Leiter gets attacked by a shark in a chapter, "Lightning Strikes Twice", and the shark bites his prosthesis off, because apparently this Felix lost his leg to a shark in Live and Let Die. And yet Milton Krest (adapted from the story "The Hildebrand Rarity") appears again, meaning the novelization doesn't fit neatly into either the novel continuity or the film continuity.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Bond is on a conveyor belt leading to a crusher crushing blocks of cocaine. It's where Dario meets his demise.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: The televangelist Professor Joe Butcher actually makes a profit from his preaching, even though it's only meant to be a cover for Franz Sanchez's drug operationnote . And a henchman working at a marine supply business gives himself away when he doesn't know what the Latin name for a Great White shark is.
  • 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.
    • Pam brings a shotgun and a kevlar vest to a Bad Guy Bar to meet Bond. Naturally, she ends up needing both.
    • At the hotel, Bond makes Pam give him her little gun, from her thigh holster. After he leaves she rolls her eyes and takes another little gun out of her purse. Think she has a third one somewhere as well?
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Happens to most of the villains. Killifer is devoured by a tiger shark. Milton Krest is locked in a decompression chamber where the pressure is gradually and painfully increased. The pressure is then abruptly released, causing his head to explode. Dario is shredded feet-first through a cocaine grinder. Colonel Heller is impaled on a forklift truck which is then rammed through a wall. Perez and Braun are driving in a truck that gets completely engulfed in flames, which then sails over the side of a tall cliff. Finally, Sanchez himself, soaked in gasoline, is lit on fire and runs around screaming, before his tanker explodes and incinerates him. Only Truman-Lodge gets the most "normal" death amongst the Big Bad Ensemble (blown away with an Uzi), and the abruptness and hefty amount of blood are still shocking.
  • Cruel Mercy: Sanchez has Felix Leiter's leg eaten by a shark, but specifically stops short of killing him, preferring that Leiter live out his days as a crippled, broken man, unable to avenge his wife being raped and murdered on her wedding day. Fortunately, James is able to avenge Della on Felix's behalf.
    Leiter: Killing me won't stop anything, Sanchez!
    Sanchez: There are worse things than dying, hombre.
    Leiter: SEE YOU IN HELL!
    Sanchez: [Evil Laugh] No, today is the first day of the rest of your life.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Sanchez owns casinos, a bank and a cheesy New Age Televangelist racket fronted by Wayne Newton. The televangelist is initially really only a front, but his onscreen charisma ends up being legitimately profitable as a bonus. What's also notable is that Sanchez is implied to be the de facto power in Isthmus with El Presidenté being a Puppet King.
  • Cute Kitten: The Hemingway House where James Bond meets up with M has some kittens wandering about (used for a Mythology Gag — the mysterious figure stroking one of them turns out to be Bond's boss, not a Blofeld-like character with a Right-Hand Cat).
  • 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 (until the Daniel Craig era), 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.
  • Deadly Euphemism: When Bond offers his services to Sanchez as a way of getting a foot in the door, he describes his services as "eliminating problems", with an emphasis that makes it clear that he really means "killing people".
  • Death by Materialism: The corrupt DEA Agent Killifer accepts a two million dollar bribe to help drug lord Franz Sanchez escape. Sanchez then abducts Bond's friend Felix Leiter and has him mutilated by a shark. When James Bond catches up with him, Killifer offers to split the two million with him. Bond tells him to keep it and throws the suitcase containing the money at Killifer, knocking him into the Shark Pool where he is devoured by the same shark that mauled Leiter.
  • Death Glare: Pam shoots Bond one when he introduces her as his "executive secretary".
  • 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. Worse, Bond foils not one but two plots by other good guys against Sanchez' operation, one of them from fellow British agents who are all killed in the process, demonstrating one of the dangers of acting alone rather than through regular channels. However, M and Pam have a considerable amount of time to warn Bond that there are other operations running that he may get in the way of, and they don't, so Bond isn't entirely to blame.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Sanchez captures Kwang who he believed tried to assassinate him (in fact, it was an unrelated plot by James Bond). The agent commits suicide by Cyanide Pill before he can be questioned, and Sanchez shoots his corpse several times to vent his anger.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Franz Sanchez is a big-time drug lord with "an invisible empire from Chile to Alaska" and the local dictator in his pocket.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Sanchez fires some bullets at Bond and misses. The sound of the bullets ricocheting off the tanker is set to the Bond theme. This apparently was a Easter Egg on the part of the sound editor.
  • 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.
  • Disposable Woman: Della Leiter is brutally killed early in the film to help motivate Bond. She's Felix's love interest, not Bond's, but a significant portion of her brief screen time is spent establishing that Bond is close to her as well.
  • 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.
  • Divide and Conquer: Bond himself uses this tactic on the villains, leading Sanchez to suspect and then dispose of several of his own underlings, destroying his own empire in the process.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Towards the end, it's safe to say that Franz Sanchez had a bad day. His drug refining facility has been destroyed, the religious cult cover has been exposed, and Bond has now destroyed two of the tankers with millions of dollars worth of petro-cocaine and managed to steal one. The last thing he needs at this point was his snot-nosed financial adviser berating him for messing up a lucrative business.
    Truman-Lodge: Brilliant! Well done, Franz! Another $80 million write-off!
    Sanchez: I guess it's time to start cutting overhead.
    [Sanchez guns down Truman-Lodge]
  • Double Take: Bond gives one, when Pam enters the bank office with a brand new hairstyle and a dress.
  • Dramatic Ammo Depletion: Pam arrives to save Bond when Dario is about to cut him and send him into a cocaine grinder. Pam fires two shots at him (one hits him) before her gun either jams or is empty. Bond pulls the distracted henchman into the grinder.
  • Driving a Desk: Scenes of 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.
  • 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.
  • Ending Theme: "If You Asked Me To" by Patti LaBelle.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Sanchez's cartel is very multi-ethnic.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Both Killifer and Krest are nauseated by Sanchez dunking Leiter into the shark pool. Especially telling because, when the scene is later mimicked with Bond throwing Killifer into the same pool, Sharkey looks away in horror, but Bond isn't disturbed at all and coldly keeps watching.
    • Pam mentions that Dario "used to be with the Contras until they kicked him out".
    • One of Sanchez's drivers is shown rescuing another driver from a burning truck, after Bond makes them crash.
    • Heller doesn't particularly seem to mind being the head of security/paramilitary enforcer for a major international drug-lord in general terms, with all that implies. However, the fact that he makes a deal with the US Attorney General after Sanchez buys Stinger missiles and threatens to shoot down an American airliner if the DEA doesn't back off suggests that this is a shade too far for him.
    • Sanchez himself explains to Krest at one point that loyalty means more to him than money, explaining why he pays Killifer the money he promised him. So, brutish murderer and drug kingpin though he is, Sanchez clearly values the loyalty of his underlings and will reward it very well. But cross him and you're marking yourself for death.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Sanchez is known for his "million dollar bribes". Killifer betrays Felix Leiter to help him escape at the beginning of the film for 2 million. Bond is not amused.
  • Everyone Has Standards: 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.
  • Evil Plan: Sanchez's scheme involves cocaine hidden in gasoline sold to Asian drug dealers, conducted via a televangelist, revolutionizing the drug smuggling business. He's also bought Stinger missiles from the Contras and is threatening to use them on American airliners if the DEA didn't back off. The story, however, is more about Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge for what Sanchez and his people did to Felix Leiter and his new wife.
  • Exact Words:
    • The President of the Republic of Isthmus is President for life. And, as Sanchez reminds him, only for life.
    • Killifer's entirely correct. Even a one million dollar bribe isn't going to do Sanchez any good in the United States. A two million dollar bribe, on the other hand...
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: Happens when a guard at the aquarium shoots at Bond, in a scene taken from the novel Live and Let Die.
  • Explosive Decompression: A "Byford Dolphin" style decompression involving Milton Krest, a decompression chamber and an axe. This one gets frequently trimmed by local media watchdogs.
  • Expy:
    • Sharkey appears to be one of the Quarrel family.
    • Regarding Franz Sanchez.
      • He seems to be one for both Pablo Escobar (a South American drug lord who liberally bribed and killed anyone who got in his way, "Plata o plomo" ["Silver or lead"], the name of Escobar's "policy" being even directly referenced) and Manuel Noriega (another Latin American drug lord who was the de facto ruler of a Banana Republic - Panama - in the '80s). Regarding the latter, both Noriega and Sanchez's actor, Robert Davi, have noticeable pockmark scarring on their faces, though that could be purely coincidental. Lastly, extended material also says Sanchez is half-German (hence the name "Franz"), like Carlos Ledher.
      • Sanchez also bears some resemblance to earlier Bond villain, Francisco Scaramanga. Both even have roughly similar-ish names (Both are the initials "F.S." and both start with a variation of "Frank").
      • Sanchez has also been compared to being Tony Montana-like in terms of their power, their business and invulnerability with the law, but generally subverts most of Montana's tropes (E.g. Woman are generally off-limits to Montana while Sanchez is abusive towards his mistress, and Montana's paranoia and downfall was caused by his own use of his products whereas Sanchez is never seen getting high and that his downfall stems from Bond's manipulation).
  • Failed Future Forecast: Carefully averted. The filmmakers weren't sure if the USSR was still going to be around by the time the movie was finished, so they purposely crafted the plot around something completely unrelated to Communism.
  • Fatal Flaw: Franz Sanchez and his obsession with personal loyalty. Throughout the film, 007 drops hints to Sanchez that his henchmen are plotting to betray him. And because Sanchez doesn’t truly understand loyalty (and the fact that it is a two-way street, essentially), he believes the lies. He thinks loyalty is only bottom-up, not top-down. And because he is not loyal to those around him, it is easy for Sanchez to believe the worst of them.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Sanchez is a hospitable enough guy that you almost forget that in other scenes, he brutally whips Lupe with a stingray tail, has a guy's heart literally cut out, had Della Leiter raped and killed, feeds Felix Leiter to a shark, and locks Krest in a decompression chamber.
  • Fed to the Beast: Sanchez badly maims Felix Leiter by having him thrown into a Shark Pool in revenge for his role in his capture as the rest of his men murder Della, Felix's new wife. Bond starts his Roaring Rampage of Revenge by feeding Killifer, the bribed DEA agent who helped to spring Sanchez, to the shark in turn.
  • 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.
  • Flirtatious Smack on the Ass: Downplayed example, but Bond clearly cops a feel of Pam's ass as they're boarding her appropriated plane right before the tanker chase.
  • Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Not foreign currency, but a similar principle. Bond plants the money he had stolen earlier from Sanchez on board Krest's yacht in order to convince Sanchez is par of a conspiracy against him.
  • Forklift Fu: Heller is impaled on a forklift by Braun.
  • Frame-Up: Bond manages to frame one of Sanchez's minions, Milton Krest, of plotting against him, knowing Sanchez would furiously murder him in response. Bond tried to assassinate Sanchez on his own before he was interrupted by rival agents, but circumstances lead Sanchez to believe that the people who captured Bond were responsible for the attempt on his life. Bond then plants several clues for Sanchez to conclude that Krest betrayed him, such as claiming that the "hitmen" were paid by a man who fits Krest's description, and stashing money Bond had previously seized from Sanchez's operation inside Krest's ship for him to find. Not helping Krest either is the unbelievable nature of Bond's prior escape making him sound like a desperate liar, and Pam impersonating a harbor pilot to crash his ship just to make him look outrageously incompetent on top of being a thief.
  • A Friend in Need: Even after Bond becomes a Rogue Agent, Moneypenny arranges to send Q with a bagful of his handy gadgets.
  • Fruit Cart: Downplayed: During the final highway chase, a civilian truck carrying pineapples is almost forced off the road and a few of the fruits are flung from it.
  • Gambit Pileup: There are no less than three secret service operations against Sanchez underway (not counting his impromptu arrest at the beginning of the movie). One is the infiltration by the Hong Kong Narcotics agents trying to discover his business plans, his drug laboratory, and his trade secrets. Another is the DEA's plan, through Pam Bouvier, to bribe Sanchez's head of security to steal back the Stinger missiles he's threatening to use against America. The third is James Bond's own personal vendetta against him. As might be expected, the three plans collide against each other rather messily.
  • The Generalissimo: Hector Lopez. He is portrayed as more Punch-Clock Villain than dictator, as he is effectively a puppet of Sanchez, who's the real ruler of Isthmus.
  • Genre Refugee: This feels less like a James Bond film and more like James Bond transported into an eighties action film or Miami Vice.
  • Graceful Loser: Joe Butcher responds to Pam holding him up, firing at him, locking him in a room and later robbing him with a cheery, "Bless your heart!"
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Pam flees the ending party in tears after seeing Lupe and Bond kissing. Bond immediately rejects Lupe, jumps off a balcony and splashes into a swimming pool below in order to catch up with Pam.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Apropos of nothing, Kwang's fellow undercover agents (who are not Japanese) are dressed and act like ninja.
  • Greedy Televangelist: Professor Joe Butcher conducts a televised ministry that's really a front for laundering cocaine kingpin Franz Sanchez's funds. It's remarked in-universe that Joe's televangelism is profitable even without laundering drug money.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: During the Bar Brawl, a man attacks Bond with a giant swordfish and nearly impales him. Pam saves Bond by smashing a bottle over the attacker's head.
  • Groin Attack: In the bar, before the Bar Brawl, Pam threatens Dario with this with her shotgun after Dario (who's oogling her like a horndog) tries to tempt her with "Talking out back" (so he could rape her and god knows what else). There's a very brief shot of the muzzle hitting his groin. Freeze-Frame Bonus shows that Dario's sporting an erection.
  • Ground by Gears: Dario attempts to drop Bond into an industrial pulverizer that is being used to crush cocaine. After a tough fight, Bond manages to yank Dario so he falls into the pulverizer and is turned into a fine pink mist.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Bond is searching a marine research warehouse and finds a tank full of maggots. Grimacing, he plunges his hands inside and finds it's used to hide packages of cocaine. Just then a guard comes up behind him. Bond asks if he can take his hands out, then throws maggots in the guard's face.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: It starts with Sanchez feeding Leiter to a shark (after raping and killing his new bride), followed by Bond resigning from MI-6, briefly going rogue, and killing every member of Sanchez's organization in increasingly graphic ways. For once, Bond is not following orders, and is acting out of a thirst for revenge.
  • 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. Subverted in the novelization, which reveals that M was the one who sent Q to help Bond. It's only vaguely hinted at in the film. In the novel, it makes it clear that the message M gives Moneypenny is telling her to have Q go on leave and travel to Isthmus and help Bond. 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.
  • Hero Harasses Helpers: Throughout most of the film, James Bond doesn't look highly upon CIA operative Pam Bouvier. He is openly sexist and treats her disparagingly and condescendingly, despite her saving him several times. By the end of the final tanker chase, he's never been more pleased to see her.
  • 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 enormous (two million in twenties takes up a lot of space) and noticeably heavy. So is the briefcase Bond takes to the Banco di Isthmus.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Because Sanchez believes that Bond saved him from a botched assassination attempt by Hong Kong narcotics (really, it was the other way around), he believes Bond's (false) suggestions that his henchmen are in fact plotting against him, prompting Sanchez to go Bad Boss on his loyal employees. It helps that Sanchez, despite his obsession about loyalty, doesn't really understand that loyalty is a two-way street; as he has no real loyalty to his employees, it's easy for him to believe the worst about them.
  • Hunting the Rogue: When in Isthmus, Bond is spotted by Narcotics agents from Hong Kong. They thwart his Assassination Attempt on Sanchez, capture him and bring him to a MI6 operative who's tasked to ship him back to the UK. Just as they are about to do this, Sanchez, Heller and their army assault their hideout, kill them all and save Bond.
  • Hypocritical Humour: 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. It was actually suggested by Q's actor, Desmond Llewelyn, precisely for this reason.
  • I Own This Town: Sanchez is effectively the true ruler of Isthmus. He owns both the bank and casino, he has access to the military, and he tells the nominal President Lopez "Remember, you're only president... for life."
  • 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 and to Sharkey. 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:
    • 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.
    • Colonel Heller, with a forklift truck.
  • Implied Death Threat: Sanchez, who really runs Isthmus City, tells President Lopez, "Remember, you are only President... for Life".
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • During the Bar Brawl, a mook improvises a spear out of a swordfish.
    • During the climax, Pam saves Bond from several mooks by cropdusting them with her plane.
  • Infrared X-Ray Camera: A real one appears, which Pam Bouvier nearly shoots Bond and Q with. It prints out an infrared xray picture of their two skeletons dodging for cover.
  • Irony: Despite leaving MI6, this is the one movie where Bond actually acts like a secret agent: infiltrating the villain's organization and destroying it internally.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Q issues Bond with a signature gun that will only fire when it verifies Bond's palm print on the stock. This saves Bond's life when a ninja snatches it off him and tries to fire it.
  • It's Personal: Sanchez throws Felix Leiter to the sharks and has his henchman Dario rape and kill Della on the night of their honeymoon. Bond is naturally pissed, and subsequently blows up windows, laboratories and trailer trucks to get to Sanchez.
  • Just Between You and Me: Inverted towards the end, with Bond revealing his reasons to Sanchez before killing him.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Killifer ends up dangling above the same Shark Pool Felix had been lowered into and 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.
    • A rare serious example is when Bond asks Sanchez, "Don't you want to know why?", showing him a silver lighter -the wedding gift that Leiter and his wife had given him, before Sanchez had her killed and Leiter maimed by a shark. Bond then sets the oil-soaked Sanchez on fire with their wedding present.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Pam Bouvier wear a slinky, rhinestone blue dress - but enough to have a nice little pistol in her garter.
    • A male version in the opening scenes: Bond and Felix are intercepted on the way to Felix's wedding, and the narrow time frame to capture Sanchez means both head into the field in their fancy wedding tuxedos. Bond even cops a stray bullet through his top hat, which he then proudly wears at the wedding later.
  • Kill It with Fire: Bond sets Sanchez on fire using a lighter (though said he was covered in gasoline, so it's plausible).
  • Knight of Cerebus: Franz Sanchez, who beats his girlfriend with a whip and has her secret lover's heart ripped out with a knife. After being captured by Bond and Felix in the opening, he later escapes from jail, maims Felix and murders his wife, setting up Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Throughout the movie, as Bond starts getting under Sanchez' skin, the villain starts killing his own henchmen in some rather gory methods like making one explode in a decompression chamber and impaling another on a forklift. Even compared to the Daniel Craig movies, this is arguably the darkest Bond flick of all.
  • 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 is a DEA agent who accepts a $2 million bribe to spring drug lord Sanchez from federal custody.
  • 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.
  • Leg Focus: Pam has quite a nice set of stems, and she wears several dresses with sky-high slits over the course of the film to show them off.
  • Literal Ass-Kissing: Bond is trapped on a Conveyor Belt of Doom, and Franz Sanchez boasts that once Bond loses his feet to the grinder, he'll beg to kiss Sanchez's ass just to make the pain stop. Fortunately, Bond is rescued before this can happen.
  • Little Useless Gun: When they meet at the bar, Pam asks Bond if he's carrying. When he shows her his PPK, she tuts and shows him the Sawed-Off Shotgun she's brought with her and tells him to stay down if shooting starts. Later, she favours a .25 calibre pistol, because they're easy to conceal, especially in her thigh holster. She shoots Dario in the heart in the climax. Not only does a heartshot not finish him off, but the gun jams. It still injures him enough for Bond to throw him into the coke grinder.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: The Bridal Chorus from Richard Wagner's Lohengrin is played on an organ at Felix Leiter's wedding when everyone enters the church.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: Killifer tells Sanchez that all of his felony charges rack up a sentence of 936 years note . He doesn't serve it.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Bond is issued a sniper rifle with fingerprint scanners on the handle, preventing anyone but him from firing it. It comes in handy when assassins try to use the gun against him.
  • 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.
  • Made of Explodium:
    • Sanchez' mountain base explodes because of one little beaker of burning gasoline.
    • Bond lets a full gasoline tanker trailer roll down a hill, smashing directly into another gasoline tanker & causing a ridiculously huge explosion.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Bond himself basically become the Iago to Sanchez's Othello, except that this time Sanchez really, really deserves it.
  • Market-Based Title: The original title was Licence Revoked. It was reportedly changed because US viewers were not expected to know what "revoked" means, and face it, Licence to Kill just sounds better. The Ultimate Edition DVD documentary Inside Licence to Kill explains that the reason for the change was that to Americans, the term "license revoked" denotes lost driving privileges.
  • Mayincatec: Professor Butcher's televangelist scam is based in an ancient temple of the "Olympatec" people, which is practically a literal use of this trope.
  • 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.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Felix Leiter gets maimed while his wife gets killed → plot to smuggle cocaine dissolved in petrol into Asia and sell it disguised as fuel to drug lords.
  • The Mole: All over the place.
    • Ed Killifer helps Sanchez escape custody and sells out Leiter to him.
    • Bond himself becomes a mole as he joins Sanchez's organisation.
    • Colonel Heller is secretly trying to steal Sanchez's Stinger missiles back, in exchange for immunity from prosecution in the USA.
    • Kwang infiltrates Sanchez's circle, posing as a Chinese drug baron and investor, but is actually a narcotics agent from Hong Kong.
    • Subverted: Lupe aids Bond in convincing Sanchez that Krest is a mole (or at least a traitor), when in fact he is actually loyal.
    • Subverted: For a moment, Bond believes Pam is a mole when he sees her meeting with Heller through the lens of his sniper rifle, but this turns out to not be the case.
  • Money Mauling: Bond throws the case containing the $2 million bribe at corrupt DEA agent Ed Killifer: knocking him into the Shark Pool.
  • 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 two of his precious Stinger missiles on Bond and Pam, at far too close a range to activate the explosive, completely wasting them.
  • 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?:
    • Bond holds Pam at gunpoint and ferociously accuses her of being a mole. Pam reveals that Bond's failed assassination attempt on Sanchez has spooked Heller, who the CIA were this close to convincing to steal back the Stinger missiles from Sanchez, which would have stopped Sanchez using them on civilian American planes. Bond recoils with a horrified look on his face, as a dejected Pam tells him there's more to it than just his personal vendetta. Up to that point, Bond's focus was pretty much 'kill Sanchez ASAP'; afterwards, his goals broaden to include dismantling Sanchez's entire operation while he's at it.
    • Downplayed with regards to what happened with Krest; Bond deliberately set him up to be killed and isn't that sorry or surprised when he gets what's coming to him, but is visibly taken aback at the incredibly gruesome method that Sanchez uses to kill him.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • At the Hemingway House, Bond is led to a shadowy figure stroking a cat, à la Blofeld, but it turns out to be M. It does immediately foreshadow M's much more antagonistic role in this scene, though.
    • Felix Leiter being mauled by a shark is a scene from the Live and Let Die novel which doesn't happen in said novel's adaptation. Leiter is played by the same actor in both movies.
    • Pam's liking for .25 Berettas, Bond's weapon in the novels before he was forced to change to the Walther PPK.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • In hindsight, the fact that a guy appearing in a James Bond movie with a name like "Killifer" turns out to be untrustworthy should not be a huge surprise. Though played with, since Killifer himself never actually kills anyone.
    • Also subverted with Professor Joe Butcher, who you'd expect would have some rather unpleasant tendencies having a name like that in such a film, but instead turns out to be an Affably Evil conman who's ultimately harmless and pretty likeable, all things being considered.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Sanchez and his minions maim Felix and leave him for dead after killing his wife in retaliation for his earlier arrest; indeed they accomplish what few villains have ever done and that is to royally piss off James Bond.
    • Bond and Pam would've been trapped in the factory and burn to death if not for Sanchez having his goons Heller be impaled onto a forklift that is sent driving through a wall is what allows them to escape.
  • Ninja: Hong Kong Narcotics employs ninjas as special agents. (Given that the Special Duties Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force were trained by the SAS before the colony was handed back to China, this may not be as far fetched as it first seems.)
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • (Fictional) drug kingpin Franz Sanchez of the (fictional) Central American Banana Republic of Isthmus is a thinly-veiled allusion to Manuel Noriega of Panama.
    • Televangelist Joe Butcher is a fairly obvious takeoff of real-life televangelist Jim Bakker.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Averted. In the choice between the very femme, long-haired mistress of Sanchez; Lupe, and the Short haired, former army pilot; Pam. Bond doesn't hesitate to go for Pam.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The Republic of Isthmus and Isthmus City stand in for Panama and Panama City, respectively.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Bond is trapped on a conveyor belt leading to a pair of toothed rollers. There is an emergency stop switch... on the far end of the conveyor. Then again, this may have been a deliberate Death Trap.
    • Krest suffers death by Explosive Decompression when a single hose on his hyperbaric chamber is cut by the Big Bad.
    • The distribution center, with lots of flammable drugs and gasoline, appears to have no fire suppression systems whatsoever. It is absurdly easy for Bond to start a small fire that quickly becomes completely uncontrollable.
  • No Smoking: The smoking was kept - but, due to Product Placement, added a Surgeon General's Warning to the end credits. However, the few times we do see Bond with a lit cigarette, we don't see many closeups of him smoking it.
  • Noble Demon: Sanchez thinks of himself as this. Ends up being a cheap thug at the conclusion.
  • Noodle Incident: In a deleted scene, Pam tells Bond that the Feds would love to get their hands on Col. Heller, but we never find out why. Presumably for the stinger missiles he can return to the US, Foreshadowing Pam negotiating with him later.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Krest, whose head explodes from sudden Explosive Decompression, and Dario, who is pulverized feet-first through a cocaine grinding machine.
    Hawkins: Local cops got a tip about a warehouse last night. Turned up 500 keys of Colombian pure, couple of stiffs, and a little bitty piece of what used to be Killifer.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Krest is shown the pile of Sanchez's money sitting in the decompression chamber that "he" stole (which Bond had planted there). Instead of telling Sanchez that he didn't take it and was set up, Krest says that it's "not (his) money", which earns the obvious response from Sanchez ("That's right, amigo. It's mine!"). While Krest was looking guilty as sin to begin with, his weak defense didn't exactly help his case (not helping is the fact that Krest had been drinking and was nervous being questioned by Sanchez to begin with).
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Milton Krest tries this while recounting to a suspicious Sanchez how he lost the money to Bond. Given how brazen and preposterous the theft was (though par for the course in this movie franchise), his point that no one would make up a story like that is actually quite reasonable. Unfortunately, Sanchez doesn't see it that way.
  • 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. It's
  • Novelization: The film got a novelization from John Gardner, who was writing Bond novels at the time. Gardner had the interesting task of of reconciling the film continuity (such as it is) with that of the Fleming novels. For instance, in the film Felix Leiter gets his leg bitten off by a shark. But in the Fleming books, to which Gardner's novelization was meant to be a sequel, Leiter had already lost a leg to a shark (which happened in Live and Let Die). Gardner simply had the shark bite off Leiter's prosthetic, without the bad guys noticing.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Pam makes it inside the Olimpatec Meditation Institute by pretending to be a naive fan of Professor Joe Butcher.
  • Oddball in the Series: Bond goes full rogue.
  • Offing the Annoyance: financial advisor Truman-Lodge really picks the wrong time to badger his boss Sanchez about how much Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is costing them:
    Truman-Lodge: Brilliant! Well done, Franz! Another $80 million write-off!
    Franz Sanchez: Then I guess it's time to start cutting overhead.
    [Sanchez guns him down]
  • 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, Stinger missiles that they were going to use to shoot down airliners 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 a Micro-Uzi.
    Sanchez: I guess it's time to start cutting overhead.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bond gets a huge one at the drug labs when Dario turns up, having met Bond in a previous encounter. Bond's attempts to play it cool doesn't fool him though, forcing Bond to blow his cover.
    • Sanchez and Truman-Lodge as they watch one truck tanker full of their cocaine-laden gasoline careening down a hill into another one, right in front of their car.
    • Bond when Pam tells him that she was working on an angle to get Heller to sell out on Sanchez, an angle that was ruined by Bond's failed attempt to asassinate Sanchez.
    • Bond's facial reaction at the airport, the day after the wedding, when the airline attendant tells him that the heightened security is due to the escape of "some drug lord." He immediately worries that Sanchez has retaliated against Felix, races to Felix's home, and he's proven horribly right.
    • Sanchez has an epic one when Bond whips out his lighter and takes advantage of the fact that Sanchez is soaked in gasoline.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Timothy Dalton's native northern English accent is more evident than before in this film, although such 'slippage' might have been intentional.
    • Dario has a "Latino"-accent in most of his early scenes, but during his clash with Bond at the cocaine laboratory ('I know him! He's an informer!') he suddenly sounds American.
  • Only Mostly Dead: How Bond finds Felix in his house, as Sanchez had only meant to leave him horribly maimed to suffer the loss of his leg and his wife. Only Bond's arrival keeps Felix from expiring.
  • Only Sane Man: There are signs that Truman-Lodge sees himself as this, trying to keep his boss focused on what's important (the lab, the money, the pending business deal with "the Orientals") as he becomes more and more angry and paranoid throughout the movie. Unfortunately, he forgets that his boss isn't just some other Wall Street trader, antagonizes him at the worst possible time, and gets executed on the spot for his troubles.
  • Only Serves for Life: Sanchez warns President Lopez that he's "only President for Life", reminding him who's really in charge of the country when the president gets too uppity.
  • Outside Ride: Bond and Sanchez cling to the outside of gasoline tanker trucks during the films climactic chase scene.
  • Overt Operative:
    • Justified — Bond is able to infiltrate Sanchez's operation as himself, having just Resigned of MI6. Given Sanchez already has ex-CIA members like Colonel Heller working for him, this is nothing unusual in Isthmus and there's nothing there to make Sanchez be suspicious of Bond's background.
    • Averted when Sanchez is first captured; Bond isn't there officially (he's "just an observer") because it's Felix's jurisdiction. This means that Sanchez thinks that Felix caught him, and so he has no idea of Bond's existence until he turns up looking for work.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Bond meets Pam Bouvier at a seaside bar.
  • Pair the Spares: At the end, Bond chooses Pam while setting up Lupe with El Presidente (which comes out of nowhere as they shared zero scenes beforehand).
  • Paranoia Fuel: An in-universe example. Sanchez is liberally doused in this courtesy of James Bond, with a little help from Lupe. Bond uses every setback and threat to the Sanchez cartel, most of which he's responsible for in the first place, to make Sanchez believe he's surrounded by traitors (who are in fact loyal underlings that are key to the cartel's operations).
  • Parrot Pet Position: Sanchez's pet iguana is first seen riding around on his shoulder.
  • 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 centre below it, but Butcher has found a way to make it profitable in and of itself.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Sanchez's murder of Krest by putting him in a decompression airlock.
  • Phone Word: The hotline for donating to Professor Joe's scam religion is 555-LOVE.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Quite a bit in this movie. Kilifer knocks out the U.S. Marshal driving the van by slamming him in the head with a shotgun butt. Dario knocks out Felix with a pistol. During the Barb Rawl, Pam thumps a thug between the shoulder blades with her shotgun.
  • Plot Armor: Bond seems to be awfully lucky to be spared from the Trigger-Happy Sanchez when so many other of his left-hand man seem to be shot by him without a second thought.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Q, even more so than before. For the villain side, the soft-spoken Affably Evil Professor Joe Butcher qualifies as well.
  • Police Are Useless: The DEA, Hong Kong Narcotics and even MI6 all fulfil this role to a T, either unable to hold the authority to try to stop Sanchez or getting in the way of Bond's pursuit of him. The Isthmus City police might as well not exist, as Sanchez has the entire government in his pocket.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • M made a serious mistake dealing with Bond. He very well knew the CIA and Hong Kong agents had operations going on in Isthmus City, and that there were plans to take down Sanchez. However, even if he didn't want a hotheaded Bond to add himself to one of those operations if he knew about them, at the very least he could have refuted Bond's idea that the Americans were doing nothing. M should have said that there was a plan going on, instead of the old "they knew what they were getting into" line. It's understandable as a matter of discipline in that a subordinate like Bond generally shouldn't have to be given a reason to follow his commanding officer's orders... but M has to know Bond better than that by now.
    • A more egregious example is Pam Bouvier agreeing to go along with Bond and help him in his revenge plan against Sanchez, but never at any point revealing that she had her own orders to try to bribe Heller and retrieve the Stinger missiles.
  • Pop The Tyres: Bond is driving a stolen fuel tanker, but is sent off the road when the mooks shoot out the rear tyres, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Porn Stache: Q wears one when he's sneaking around Sanchez's estate with a radio-transmitting broom.
  • 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 honeymoon," implying that they raped her before killing her. Then they feed Felix to a shark.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Sanchez promises money to whoever springs him. The greedy Killifer obliges. Once they're safely away from the authorities, Krest suggests "deep-sixing" Killifer, but Sanchez forbids it; he pays Killifer what he promised rather than killing him, chiding Krest, "Loyalty is more important to me than money."
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Bond gets one of these after his licence to kill is revoked, and right before he leaves the scene with his weapon.
    I guess it's a farewell to arms.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Quite a lot of these:
    • Perhaps the most serious, heartfelt example 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 with it]
    • 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: Hah! You're dead!
      Pam: You 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.
    • But before that, Bond also gets one before feeding Killifer to the sharks.
      Killifer: There's two million dollars in that suitcase. I'll split it with you.
      Bond: You earnt it. You keep it, "old buddy".
  • 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.
  • 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 approve of you being the puppet president".
  • Pretty Boy: Dario. Apart from the fact that he tends to display creepy-as-hell "Jack Torrance" faces, he's actually a very boyishly attractive youth.
  • Product Placement:
    • The title sequence is literally a commercial for Olympus-brand 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...but that's it. It's not even one that he uses; Pam does, but only because she mistook it for an actual camera (also, said camera is disguised as a Polaroid instant camera, not an Olympus).
    • 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.
    • A real-life Lark cigarettes package was used by Bond as a gadget (reportedly the company paid $350,000 for the privilege). When the film was released in the US it was considered enough of an ad that EON Productions was forced to include the Surgeon General's Warning on cigarette smoking in the closing credits of the film.
    • The Kenworth logo is visible several times during the tanker chase.
    • The signature gun is a Hasselblad camera.
    • Bond books a ticket on Pan American World Airways. Especially ironic as Pan Am folded just two years later when it filed for bankruptcy.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: Bond pulls one of Krest's men into a tank full of electric eels, which immediately start zapping him with visible electric arcs.
  • Psycho for Hire: Dario, who was kicked out of the Contras before becoming an enforcer in Franz Sanchez's drug empire.
  • Pyramid Power: Spoofed with Professor Joe's scam religion, which attributes similar powers to cones.
  • 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 two women in Licence, and it's entirely offscreen.
  • Red Right Hand: Dario has a metal tooth on his upper jaw.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • The manner in which Bond steals Sanchez's money from Krest is so ridiculous, it simply incriminates Krest in the eyes of Sanchez, something Bond takes advantage of by planting the money on the Wavekrest.
    • Bond casually admits to Sanchez that he's a former British agent, as it actually helps his cover as an assassin-for-hire (especially since he doesn't specify just how recently he'd been suspended). It also throws off any suspicions Sanchez had about him, even after he gets one of his men to profile Bond.
      Heller: You're not going to believe who this guy is.
      Sanchez: Former British agent.
      Heller: How'd you know that?
      Sanchez: Because I know things.
    • Even before Bond bluntly tells Sanchez that he's a renegade MI6 agent, Sanchez notes that it takes a lot of balls to waltz into Sanchez's casino while carrying a firearm, throw away money like an asshole, and personally offer his services to one of the biggest drug lords in the world without anyone able to vouch for him. He does seem to think the whole thing is Actually Pretty Funny, so he tells Bond he will get back to him after his guys have checked him out.
  • 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: M does not take kindly Bond's desire to hunt down Franz Sanchez after said drug lord crippled Bond's friend and killed his wife. M could not fire Bond or allow him to resign - only revoke his licence to kill.
    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: [Tranquil Fury] Then you have my resignation, sir!
    M: We're not a country club, 007!
  • Revenge by Proxy: Sanchez gets revenge on Felix Leiter for getting him arrested. He doesn't simply off Leiter, he sends his goons to attack Leiter and his new wife on their wedding day, rape/kill the wife and have Mr. Leiter's leg chomped off by a shark. While Felix was indeed directly attacked, the fact that they went after his wife as well counts as this Trope.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Defied. After persuading DEA agent Ed Killifer to help him escape, Franz Sanchez still insists upon properly paying Killifer as promised. When Milton Krest asks why he would do this instead of killing him, Sanchez answers "Loyalty is more important to me than money." Killifer eventually dies facing a vengeful James Bond.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Sanchez is sometimes seen with an iguana. It even has a little diamond necklace, which might be a call back to the one Blofeld's cat had in Diamonds Are Forever.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The film was made when The War on Drugs was in full swing, and features Bond teaming up with the DEA, while The Cartel are the major villains.
  • 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. Pretty much every lieutenant of Sanchez he comes across ends up dead as a result, either by his hand or through other means. While never overtly stated, revenge for Felix is likely only a portion of why Bond does what he does. Ultimately, the fate of Della mirrors what happened to Bond's wife on Bond's own wedding day, and Leiter's fate mirrors Bond's own, but it's far WORSE. Bond was unscathed, and Tracy's death was instant. Both the Leiters suffered BADLY, with Della raped and murdered and Felix maimed for life. The film includes a garter throwing scene between Felix, Bond, and Della, to remind us that Bond was married, and giving a clearer reason for why Bond is so relentless in going after Sanchez. Further, when M is trying to brush off what happened to Felix as just the breaks, Bond's response is viciously acidic when he asks M if Leiter's wife knew the risks as well. We even see M pause briefly, understanding that he needs to try a different tact to get Bond off his revenge plan, though Bond ultimately ignores him.
    • He also immediately takes a Harpoon Gun and kills the frogman who killed Sharkey, hung him up like a fish and gloated about it. Which blows his cover, forces him to flee the Wave Krest and nearly gets him killed in the process, but the guy thoroughly deserved it.
  • 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 becomes one of these for most of the film for the sake of avenging Felix and his wife. He even accidentally disrupts another government operation when he tries to snipe Sanchez.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Pool: The final scene is a party overlooking a swimming pool. Bond jumps into the pool fully clothed as part of a Grand Romantic Gesture, and then pulls Pam in after him.
  • 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.
    • After being maimed, the first thing Felix does after revealing he's still clinging to life is to call for his wife.
  • 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.
  • Scaramanga Special: Q provides Bond with a sniper rifle that looks like a high-end camera and accessories when disassembled.
  • Screw the Money, This Is Personal!: Ed Killifer, the Dirty Cop who sold out James Bond's best friend Felix Leiter to notorious drug kingpin Franz Sanchez, allowing Sanchez to have Leiter's leg fed to a shark and his wife raped and murdered, offers to split the bribe Sanchez gave him with Bond in exchange for letting him go. A pissed Bond throws the briefcase of money at him, causing him to fall into the same shark tank that Leiter was lowered into, where he is eaten.
    Bond: You earned it. You keep it, "old buddy".
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Bond will stop at nothing to get justice for the Leiters, even if it means disobeying orders.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Bond delivers an epic one to M when the latter reprimands him for going against orders to avenge the Leiters, and refuses to let Bond continue with his effort. Even with his fellow agents prepared to kill him should he resist, it doesn't faze him and he promptly makes a fast getaway.
    • Truman-Lodge and Heller both attempt this when Bond blows up the drug lab, the former being collected by Franz while the latter is murdered when he tries to make off with the Stingers.
    • On the truck where Bond and Sanchez fight before it crashes, the driver decides he wants no more of this and jumps out.
  • See You in Hell: Felix yells this at Sanchez when he gets dunked into the shark pool. As Sanchez only intends to mutilate him, it backfires:
  • Serendipitous Survival: Bond is the last one to leave the Leiters' wedding, meaning that he missed Sanchez's goons arriving.
    • If Bond hadn't found out that Sanchez had escaped before leaving Florida, and if he hadn't raced back to Felix's home fearing that Sanchez had retaliated against Felix, he'd likely have died from his wounds. Felix was, as far as anyone knew, still on his honeymoon, and thus no one would have checked on him until it was too late. It's pure chance that Bond arrives in time to save him.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Pam's evening dress has her back uncovered, and it sure makes an impression on Bond.
  • Shamu Fu: Some random guy during a Bar Brawl tries to use a mounted swordfish to stab Bond, who attempts to block it with a chair, resulting in a broken chair but an otherwise unharmed Bond.
  • Shark Pool: Sanchez feeds Felix Leiter to a shark in a marine research facility. He survives, but is badly mutilated. Bond is certainly NOT pleased when he finds out.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Pam Bouvier is insulted by the idea that she should play Bond's secretary, but when she shows up at the Bank in the dress she bought with the money Bond gave her, he's so stunned by how beautiful she looks that he does a Double Take.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: When Bond mets Pam for the first time at the bar, and she asks if he brought protection, he indicates to his Walther. Pam does a "no-no-no" gesture before showing that she brought a shotgun. Sure enough, she puts it to good use during the subsequent bar brawl.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up and Save Me!: Dario is holding Bond at the end of a Conveyor Belt o' Doom over a cocaine grinder. Pam turns up in time to shoot him (and he happens to drop into the grinder), but Bond is still attached to the machine. This leads to this classic exchange:
    Pam: Are you alright?
  • Sky Heist: In The Teaser, Sanchez attempts to escape from Bond and Leiter in a light plane, and the two spies chase him in a Coast Guard chopper. Once they catch up with him, Bond lowers himself down and hooks the Cessna onto the helicopter. The more powerful helicopter is able to drag the Cessna back to Florida.
  • 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.
  • Smart Gun: One of the gadgets Q brings to Isthmus is a Sniper Rifle disguised as camera parts. The grip has a fingerprint sensor that allows only Bond to fire it, as one of the ninjas assigned to take out Bond discovers.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Averted. The end credits sport a Surgeon General's Warning in reference to the use of tobacco products in the film. Also, Bond is very rarely seen smoking in the film. Dalton said in an interview that he wanted to keep Bond a smoker, in keeping with the Bond of the books, and that he took a few puffs, which were more often than not edited out.
  • 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.
  • Sound-Only Death: When Lupe's lover has his heart cut out by Sanchez's men, we only hear his scream and briefly see his dead body later on.
  • 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.
  • Spy Cam: An inversion: A laser gun is disguised as the flash on a Polaroid. Pam sees the camera and tries to take a picture with it, with hilariously disastrous results.
  • 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 Insult: When Bond offers his services to Sanchez, Sanchez explains that in his territory one must have "certain talents" that most do not. Glancing over Sanchez's strongmen and associates, he simply chides that it "shouldn't be too difficult". Sanchez's men are visibly perturbed at what Bond is alluding to.
  • 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.
  • Stuka Scream: Immediately after having a hole blown in its horizontal stabilizer by a Stinger missle, the Piper Super Cub piloted by Pam starts to roar as it (very slowly) begins to crash.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Krest essentially ends up having to be the unfortunate mook who has to explain to his unimpressed boss exactly what happened when James Bond performed one of his awesome-but-completely-unbelievable stunts that completely fouls up the Big Bad's operations. This ends for him as you'd expect it to — namely, in his unpleasant death.
    • Krest's death pulls no punches in exactly both exactly how gruesome and vicious a death by explosive decompression can be (it's interesting to compare this with Kananga's death in Live and Let Die) and what kind of vicious psycho would do such a thing (and thus become the type of villain James Bond opposes to begin with). Notably, even Bond himself is kind of freaked out by it.
    • Fearful that this might attract the attention of his bosses, M revokes Bond's licence to kill after admonishing Bond for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Franz Sanchez, who attacked Felix Leiter in retaliation for having him arrested for narcotics smuggling.
    • Truman-Lodge's angry ranting also showcases the fact that, yeah, all of that crap Bond blows up is expensive and very hard to bounce back from in a financial way. Same as Krest, he has the bad luck of pointing this out to his boss at a very bad time...
  • Swiss Bank Account: When Bond is searching Leiter's computer for an informant who hasn't been found out and killed, there's a brief flash of a tab showing Sanchez as having numerous Swiss bank accounts.
  • Swordfish Sabre: During the bar brawl in Bimini, one of the mooks attempts to skewer Bond with a stuffed marlin head he grabs off the wall.
  • 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.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: James Bond killing Sanchez and his minions would fit the legal definition of murder, since he doesn't have legal clearance to do so. No one seems to mind however.
  • Take the Wheel: Said verbatim by Pam Bouvier. In a diversion to let Bond sneak onto the Wavekrest yacht, Pam Bouvier poses as a harbor pilot and starts pulling the ship into the dock. When the captain anxiously observes how fast she's going, she snaps back "You want to do the driving? Take the wheel!", throws the throttle on full, and sneaks off the bridge in the confusion as it crashes into the pier.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Bond, Sanchez, and Dario all stand 6'2 and all men have strong sarcastic streaks.
  • A Taste of the Lash: After Sanchez catches Lupe in bed with another man, he whips her with a stingray tail.
  • 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), 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 having agents to take Bond in for being a Rogue Agent dead or alive after all the past service Bond done for them. What's worse is that it crosses into negligence if M and MI6 knew about the Hong Kong narcotics agents' operation (remember, Hong Kong was a British colony at the time) and yet they didn't tell Bond that when he asks incredulously that they're doing nothing. However, Bond's reaction gave no time for a debriefing. Someone subverted in the novelization, as the memo M hands to Moneypenny that is glimpsed in the film is M telling Q to go on leave and help Bond. Further, in the novel, when M says Bond has to be stopped, he adds, "Or helped."
  • Technicolor Science: The chemicals in the lab towards the end have various bright colours.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: As Bond works his way down the front of a building, he crosses over a sculpture of a topless mermaid. At the crucial instant a car horn honks in the background.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Bond who had no qualms with dispatching enemies in the most violent way possible, culminating with sending Sanchez to Hell via an exploding tanker truck.
  • They Knew the Risks: M says this of Leiter when Bond is angry that M won't take action against Sanchez. Though Bond promptly retaliates that Leiter's wife certainly didn't, to which M can only change the subject.
  • Threatening Shark: Felix loses part of his left leg to a shark. Said shark also eats Killifer.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: Kwang, one of the Asian drug lords Sanchez wants to become partners with, displays a certain air of skepticism throughout their meeting and refuses to commit to their deal unless Sanchez shows him his drug land up close. Sanchez acts accommodating but senses Kwang is dangerous and sends a hit team to his house that night. In a twist, Kwang turns out to be an undercover cop rather than a generic Red Shirt skeptic.
  • Title Drop:
    M: Your licence to kill is revoked.
  • To the Pain: As Sanchez puts Bond on an conveyor belt into a cocaine grinder.
    Sanchez: When you're up to your ankles, you're going to beg to tell me everything. When you're up to your knees, you'll kiss my ass to kill you!
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Pam and Lupe respectively. Pam is an ex-Army pilot turned CIA agent who used to fly guns to the Contras in Nicaragua. Lupe is croupier at Sanchez's casino as well as being his mistress and arm candy.
  • 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 the 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, to arrest Bond, dead or alive. That's right, M is preventing Bond from going after Sanchez. What's even worse 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, which causes Bond to unintentionally screw up the actual plans of the other law enforcement agencies had in place, and gets a lot of them killed. 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. 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 novelization goes a long way to rehabilitating M's character, revealing in the sequence between him and Moneypenny that he's changed his mind, and making it overtly clear that the memo he gives Moneypenny that we see in the film is actually an order from him for Q to go on leave and assist Bond against Sanchez.
    • 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. It reaches the point that he seems ready to shoot Pam dead after thinking that she's in league with Sanchez, at which point she makes him have a realization about his vendetta.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ed Killifer is dangling above the shark tank Leiter was lowered into earlier. Instead of making it easier for himself and surrender to Bond and turn himself to the authorities, he tries to bribe Bond with the money he was bribed to spring Sanchez out of custody, which resulted having Bond's friend mauled by the shark and having his wife raped and murdered. Bond throws the briefcase containing the money on him and makes him shark food. To be fair, given how the whole movie is a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Bond would probably have killed Killifer anyway. Also, when Bond throws the briefcase at him, Killifer actually lets go of the rigging he's holding on to in order to grab it! Greed kills, indeed.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Bond's lighter, a wedding gift from the Leiters. Becomes a Chekhov's Gun when he uses it to set Sanchez on fire.
  • Tranquil Fury: Sanchez spends much of the final act seemingly calm, but incredibly quick to start killing people at the slightest provocation.
  • Trap Door: Sanchez has a trap door in his fish warehouse over a shark enclosure that he sends Leiter through. Bond later sends Killifer down it.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Sanchez tries to arrange a business deal with Chinese drug barons so that his cartel can expand into a Trans-Pacific empire.
  • Trouble Entendre: Killifer and Sanchez's exchange turns out to be a negotiation on Rewatch Bonus:
    Killifer: You're facin' 139 felony counts, Sanchez. Why, that's 936 years! Even one of your famous million dollar bribes can't get you out of this one.
    Sanchez: Two.
    Killifer: What?
    Sanchez: Two million. (smug smile)
  • Trying Not to Cry: At the sight of Della (implied to be an old flame before marrying Felix) lying raped and lifeless on her wedding-bed, Dalton's incarnation is the only Bond (Craig's included) to cry out in grief (DELLA!) and panic while desperately searching for Felix, frantically calling for an ambulance when he found his friend alive but mutilated; all the while visibly holding in the tears of rage and sorrow welling in his eyes.
  • Turbine Blender: Dario gets brutally killed by being dropped into a cocaine grinder. His screams of pain combined with the red dust and the music playing during this scene only make it worse.
  • Turn in Your Badge: The premise of the film is Bond resigning his Licence to Kill to go after Sanchez.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Possibly. Bond and Pam end in each other's arms—fully clothed—in Sanchez's swimming pool.
  • Uncertain Doom: The second cocaine truck driver. While he manages to bail out before the rocket hits, it's unclear if he was out of range of the explosion when it did.
  • 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!"
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Sanchez holds this in highest regard, though only if it's mutually beneficial. As mentioned in Fatal Flaw above, he does not comprehend the true meaning of loyalty, which contributes to his downfall.
    • Q uses his vacation time to help Bond, even though he's a rogue agent.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: Bond is trying to assassinate Sanchez. However, he gets stopped by Hong Kong narcotics moles who were infiltrating Sanchez's syndicate. Later, he gets Sanchez to believe that Krest was behind the attempt instead. Sanchez has Krest brutally executed and he gives Bond a place in his inner circle.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Bond, although he borders on Sociopathic Hero. As part of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge to take down drug lord Franz Sanchez and avenge Felix Leiter and Della, he kills off quite a few bad guys in particularly terrible ways, like feeding Killifer to sharks and shoving Dario down a stone grinder.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Bond is equipped with a gun disguised as a camera, which has a fingerprint-recognition mechanism built into the pistol grip to prevent anyone else from firing it. This comes into play when a Chinese agent gets his hands on the gun and tries to fire it at Bond, with no success.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: The coldblooded drug lord Franz Sanchez has a pet iguana that acts as his Right-Hand Cat.
  • 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.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The film blurs the two tropes, mainly focusing on Sanchez who, unfortunately for him, unintentionally interrupts the honeymoon of Felix Leiter, which means Bond gets involved.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Sanchez loses his sanity by the end of the film. He goes from treating his employees with trust and respect to impaling them on forklifts, gunning down Truman-Lodge, and swinging madly with a machete when he sees Bond, cutting the air brake on his oil tanker truck, which naturally leads to Stuff Blowing Up.
    • Truman-Lodge, the accountant, gets increasingly wigged out once Bond starts with the explosions and the shooting, leading to him losing his cool at an unwise moment. It seems to be partly because this is the first time he's been close to the messy end of the business, seeing as how he's a white-collar criminal rather than a hardened thug, and partly because he's very aware of how much of the organisation's investment is going up in smoke.
  • Villainous Rescue: Heller and Sanchez rescue Bond from the Hong Kong and British narcotics agents who kidnapped him to bring him back to the UK, though they don't know he's after Sanchez.
  • Visual Pun: Sanchez kills Krest in a decompression chamber also filled with his money. When he explodes over the money, Sanchez, when asked what about the money, says "launder it."
  • The Voiceless: Braun. He never says a word in the entire film.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: Killifer arranges for Sanchez to escape while being transported from Key West to Quantico.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Bond is knocked unconscious while a prisoner of the Hong Kong narcotics agents, and wakes up in a comfortable bed in one of Sanchez's guest rooms.
  • Weaponized Camera: Q provides Bond with a Scaramanga Special sniper rifle that looks like a high-end camera and accessories when disassembled. Q also has a Polaroid camera that fires Frickin' Laser Beams (and takes X-ray photos) that is only used for a throwaway gag.
  • Western Terrorists: Sanchez escalates from drug lord to this when he mentions the reason he purchased the Stinger missiles: to threaten the DEA and the United States' Justice Department into getting off his back by telling them that if they don't he will use the missiles to shoot down as many American airliners as it takes to force them to agree.
  • Wham Line: "Then you have my resignation, sir!"
  • Wham Shot: Pam comes into view of Bond's sights of Sanchez' side office.
    • Bond discovering Della's lifeless body on her bed.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Subverted when Sharkey has the memorable line: "What a terrible waste... of money." after Bond kills Killifer by tossing a briefcase containing two million dollars at him, knocking him and the money into a shark pool.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bond gets one from M after he drops Killifer into the shark tank without the authority from the Americans or M, and Pam Bouvier later 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: and the DEA couldn't know that something was happening because Kwang is a Hong Kong Narcotics agent, hence why the DEA picked up Sanchez at the start in the first place, and Kwang had managed to raise Sanchez's suspicions independently by asking all of the wrong questions. 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, so he broadens his goals to include dismantling Sanchez's entire operation while he's at it. It would've been awesome, except a lot of good agents and people were killed by his fuck-ups. In his defense, while Bond keeps up the traits and skills that he uses so well in the field, he's obviously not in a professional state of mind, and thinking things through, due to the fate of the Leiters tearing open Bond's own healed scars of losing his wife on his wedding day. Also, their fates are worse, as Tracy died instantly from a bullet to the head, whereas Della was raped before her murder. Also, Bond was unscathed in his wedding day attack, while Leiter was maimed for the rest of his life.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Felix Leiter's wife is raped and killed on the day of their wedding and Leiter is tortured within an inch of his own life, prompting Leiter's best friend Bond to go rogue on a vendetta. It's likely that the memories of Bond's own wife that are stirred up from the Leiters' attack are as equal a catalyst for why he does what he does as his desire to get revenge for Felix. He's particularly pissed when M brushes off what happened to Della as just the risks of Felix's job. "Did his WIFE?"
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Bond's assassination attempt against Franz Sanchez fails, but he manages to convince Sanchez to think one of his associates did the job, and Sanchez has him brutally executed, getting Bond a place inside his circle.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Defied. When Krest asks why they don't just kill Killifer, Sanchez insists that loyalty is important to him, and pays up the bribe as promised. The guy does die, but at Bond's hands. Sanchez is smart enough to know that while he might not have anymore need per se for this particular individual, it sets a good example for other potential Dirty Cops.
    • But later in the film, when being chided by Truman-Lodge about the cost of losing two tanker trucks full of heroin dissolved in gasoline to Bond's actions, Sanchez declares that "'s time to start cutting overhead", and guns him down with an Uzi. However he's clearly undergoing a Villainous Breakdown by this stage.
  • 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?" (You'd think Sanchez would be a little more willing to believe this account, considering he was caught at the beginning of the movie through a similarly outlandish stunt).
  • Your Head A-Splode: Poor Krest. You almost feel sorry for him that he had to die by the decompression chamber.


Video Example(s):


Bond's Truck Skiing

The climactic chase in Licence to Kill has Bond commandeering a tanker truck and somehow managing to dodge a Stinger missile with this maneuver. French stuntman and stunt coordinator Rémy Julienne pulled this off and called it the most difficult stunt of his long career. Initially, it was planned to utilise a rig that had been built so that the truck could be propped up and drive at a 45-degree angle, only for Julienne to prove it not necessary.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / CarSkiing

Media sources: