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Trivia / Licence to Kill

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Trivia tropes:

  • Breakaway Pop Hit: The closing theme "If You Asked Me To", sung by Patti LaBelle, which was later covered by Céline Dion, becoming one of her first English-language hits.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • In Italy, the film was released as Vendetta Privata (Personal Revenge or Private Revenge), not following the translation, because Dr. No was titled "Licenza di Uccidere", the translation of this film's title. Sweden had the same problem: Dr. No had been "Agent 007 med rätt att döda" (Agent 007 with a license to kill), so "Tid för hämnd" (Time for revenge) was used for this movie.
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    • Other countries used 'The Cancelled Licence (Japan); With A Right To Kill (Norway); Permission to Kill'' (Brazil). Finland, Croatia, Portugal, Spain and Latin America simply translated the actual title.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: One of the extras during the wedding is Sandi Sentell, a gym teacher from Atlanta, Georgia, who won a MTV/VH1 competition to appear in the film.
  • Creator Killer: John Glen had worked on every film — first as editor, then director — in the series since The Spy Who Loved Me, but the disappointing reaction to this film put an end to that. He didn't work on anything except a failed TV pilot during the next three years, after which the twofer of Iron Eagle III and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery ended his career entirely.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • John Glen has said that the film "is among my best Bond films, if not the best".
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    • Timothy Dalton thought it the Bond script he had waited years to see, calling it "the best since Thunderball", although he would later admit that he preferred The Living Daylights as a film.
  • Deleted Scene: Several:
    • Sharkey arriving at Leiter's house.
    • Bond and Sharkey observing the WaveKrest and Bond recognising Lupe.
    • Bond hiring the boat he uses to go to the Barrelhead.
    • Bond's arrival in Isthmus, where Pam fills him on Truman Lodge and Col. Heller's backgrounds (the former is wanted for insider dealing on Wall Street and the latter is a disgraced Green Berets colonel). Meanwhile, M's agent is watching them.
    • Bond narrowly avoids running into Sanchez at the Banquo de Isthmus.
    • Bond in his hotel room watching Sanchez on television.
    • Bond returning to the casino to meet Pam.
    • A short scene between Bond and Lupe following the boat ride.
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  • Fake Nationality: Queens-born Italian-American Robert Davi plays the Latin American villain Franz Sanchez.
  • Franchise Killer: The film seemed to do this for a while. With inflation in account, it's the lowest grossing film in the franchise. The marketing for the movie was subpar at best (it's to date, the last Bond movie to be released during summer). Add that to the film itself, being one of the most polarizing Bond movies at the time due to its decidedly Darker and Edgier, Miami Vice-influenced plot (especially considering the Lighter and Softer Roger Moore era was still fresh in the general public's mind). It felt like an end of an era (dating back to the Sean Connery era) as it was the last Bond movie to have any involvement from director John Glen, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, cinematographer Alec Mills, and producer Albert R. Broccoli (plus the last Bond movie to take place during the Cold War). There wouldn't be a new Bond movie released for six years (the longest such delay in franchise history) mostly due to litigation from 1990-1993 between the co-owners on the sale of television licensing rights. In the meantime, Dalton's contract expired, Pierce Brosnan was hired, and the 17th movie started being Saved from Development Hell. The film has been held in better regard over time, however.
  • Hey, It's That Place!: The set for Paradise Island is the same location used for Sanchez's house.
  • Inspiration for the Work: Michael G. Wilson said that the script was inspired by Yojimbo.
  • Jossed: Until this movie, fans tended to assume "Felix Leiter" was just a codename assigned to whoever Bond's CIA contact was, given his tendency to be played by a different actor in every movie. Such fans, presumably, never read the books.
  • Method Acting: Robert Davi stayed in character even when the cameras weren't rolling.
  • No Stunt Double: According to Michael G. Wilson, that really is Timothy Dalton running from the exploding tanker and not a stunt double.
  • The Other Darrin: In a weird example of this trope, actor John Terry, who had played Felix Leiter in the previous film The Living Daylights was replaced by David Hedison - who had played Leiter all the way back in Live and Let Die. It was felt that an actor who had previously played the role should be in this one, for a better emotional reaction to what happens to him. Hedison became the first actor to play Leiter twice until Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Wayne Newton got the role of Professor Joe Butcher after sending a letter to the producers expressing interest in a cameo because he always wanted to be in a Bond film.
  • Reality Subtext: Kind of inverted when Sanchez's actor, Robert Davi was taken by a number of thugs while on vacation in South America to an actual drug lord after the film was made. The man enjoyed his portrayal of a drug lord. Davi later revealed in 2016 interviews that said Drug Lord was Pablo Escobar who had provided some inspiration for the role of Franz Sanchez.
  • Role Reprisal: David Hedison played Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die in 1973, and reprised the role for Licence to Kill sixteen years later. Apparently, it happened because producer Albert R. Broccoli thought a familiar face was needed for Leiter given his prominence in the plot.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Robert Davi improvised the line where Sanchez tells Killifer, "Loyalty is more important to me than money."
    • Also the shot of Q throwing the rake-radio into the bushes was simply Desmond Llewellyn putting it out of shot for the next scene, however the sight of Q abusing a gadget the way he always complains about Bond doing was too good to lose.
  • Troubled Production: The film was hit by a writer's strike, tax issues meaning it was unaffordable to film in the UK and severe heat while filming in Mexico.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: This is classic example of a very '80s genre, the "lone cop out for revenge who doesn't play by the rules" movie. It's just that here, the lone cop is James Bond. It could have been worse, though; Bond fights a South American drug empire specifically because the filmmakers weren't sure that the Soviet Union would stay around for very long, and therefore decided to play it safe.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The film had several beautiful poster art designed when it was still known as Licence Revoked. The name change meant that the posters had to be scrapped.
    • The film was originally set in China and had such setpieces as a fight in a museum and a chase along the Great Wall. However, following The Last Emperor, the novelty of filming there had worn off.
    • Eric Clapton was asked to write and perform the theme song. He and Vic Flick, who had played lead guitar on Monty Norman's original 007 theme, produced a theme to match Timothy Dalton's gritty performance, but the producers turned it down.
    • John Rhys-Davies was offered a cameo role as General Pushkin but declined the offer, as he was filming Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • Gene Simmons was allegedly offered a role, but due to commitments with KISS, he declined.
  • Working Title: Licence Revoked. Among the reasons for changing the title was to avoid confusion with the 1981 James Bond novel, Licence Renewed, written by John Gardner (who ended up writing a novel based on this film as well). Licence Renewed means the exact opposite of Licence Revoked. Another reason for the change was that "license revoked" denotes losing one's driving privileges in the USA.

Miscellaneous trivia:

  • Isthmus City president Hector Lopez was played by Pedro Armendariz, Jr., whose father, Pedro Armendariz, Sr., played Kerim Bey in From Russia with Love.
  • The Chinese ninja woman who also appears during the opening credit sequence is Diana Lee Hsu, May 1988 Centerfold of Playboy. She is part of a tradition of having an actress in a Bond movie to model in Playboy, although she's the first to have been a Centerfold before making the movie. She also appears in Maurice Binder's photography-themed opening sequence. Incidentally, Carey Lowell and Talisa Soto both declined to appear in Playboy.
  • This was one of Benicio del Toro's earliest movie roles. He's still the record-holder of "Youngest Bond Villain" to this day (he was around 21 at the time of filming).
  • This was the final Bond film:
    • Produced by Albert R. Broccoli. By the time the next movie was being made, his health issues (which would kill him seven months after the film's release) prompted his daughter Barbara and his stepson Michael G. Wilson, already a co-producer in Licence to Kill, to take over the reins.
    • Featuring Richard Maibaum as a scriptwriter. He had contributed to all but three of the previous Bond films, and would pass away in 1991. (You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die and Moonraker were the only ones he didn't contribute to.)
    • To open in the summer. It faced tough competition from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman (1989), Lethal Weapon 2, Ghostbusters II, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and The Abyss at the summer box office, and ever since, Bond films open in autumn or winter, until Bond 25 is tentatively planned for released in April 2020 due to production delays.
    • Where Maurice Binder designed the opening title sequence, as he also passed away in 1991. He had done every title sequence for the series up to this point, save for From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, and was succeeded by one of his alumni, Daniel Kleinman, in GoldenEye.
    • To feature a Bond Girl - Cary Lowell - born before the before the franchise began with Dr. No in 1962.
    • To be made before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Also the last film to use the classic office sets for M and Moneypenny (at least until Skyfall), the last to feature Smoking Is Cool throughout the film, and the last not to have any CGI (and thus, also the last to feature cheesy rear projection shots).


Example of: