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Licence to Kill Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 13 & under

Darker version of James Bond has more violence, language.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Licence to Kill is the 16th James Bond movie and the second -- and last -- with actor Timothy Dalton in the lead role. The producers were trying for a "darker" look and feel here, going for a PG-13 rating with stronger language and violence. More blood is shown, and there are more deaths. Language includes "s--t," "bastard," "ass," and "hell." Bond kisses and sleeps with two women, though no nudity is shown; those opening titles still feature alluring silhouettes in which the women look naked. The bad guy this time is a drug dealer, and there are many references to cocaine as well as many characters drinking and some smoking. The movie is not one of the best, but at the time it was seen as a drastic improvement over the Roger Moore movies, and it's still considered a fan favorite. It will be one of the movies that teen Bond fans will go to first.

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How did the decision to go "darker" affect this Bond movie? Does it seem more violent? More exciting?
  • Is the movie more or less involving, given that Bond's motive is revenge rather than trying to save the world? Why?
  • How are the women in this movie treated? Why are they both attracted to Bond? Would either of them be interesting in a movie of their own?
  • How do you feel about the villain being a drug dealer? How are drugs portrayed in the movie?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: James Bond may be a good guy and may have saved the world, but he seduces women, drinks alcohol, doesn't seem to care much about destroying property, and never really learns any lessons. The plot of this movie is based on personal revenge, rather than saving the world. Normally, he has a license to kill and can leave dead bodies in his wake with no consequences, but in this film, his license is revoked, and he kills anyway. Women are generally treated as objects, helpless and powerless.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: James Bond is a highly trained hero, of course, and tries to save the world from the bad guys, but his methods are highly questionable. The Bond in this movie seems darker and even more serious than usual.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: This Bond movie has more violence and more blood than any of the movies before it. Characters are shot and killed. A woman is whipped on her back after being caught in bed with another man (it leaves a scar). Men are killed in a shark tank, with blood billowing through the water. Supporting characters die. There are spectacular stunts, such as men falling from an airplane in flight. A man dies by biting on a cyanide capsule. A man dies in an airlock (his face inflates and explodes). A bad guy gets killed in the gears of a factory, with spraying blood. There's a car chase, with villains on fire, and explosions. Ninjas attack.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Bond kisses and sleeps with two women. Nothing sensitive is shown. The usual opening title sequence features women in silhouette that look like they could be naked. Dancing girls are shown in a sleazy bar, though they are somewhat clothed (nothing sensitive is shown). A female spy flirts with a bad guy, goes into his bedroom, and lies down on his bed with him. "Girlie" pictures are briefly seen in the cab of a big rig.

  • language false2

    Language: Language is much stronger in this Bond movie than in earlier entries. "S--t," "bulls--t," "bastard," "hell," "Goddamn," "scumbag," "ass," "cojones," and "piss," are used.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The plot involves an international drug dealer who devises a way to dissolve cocaine in gasoline. Packages of cocaine are opened underwater, with white clouds billowing through the water. Bond orders a martini, but his girlfriend drinks it. The bad guy drinks a shot. A woman accuses an aggressive man of being drunk. Characters smoke. Q takes a shot of alcohol.