Friday, August 07, 2015

Licence to Kill (1989) | Villains

Like everything else in Licence to Kill, Sanchez is intentionally unconventional for a Bond film. He wouldn't ordinarily even be in Bond's league. He's not trying to take over the world or anything; he's the kind of guy who ought to be fighting Arnold Schwarzenneger or the A-Team. But because Bond's been de-powered in Licence, Sanchez is a tougher threat.

Robert Davi was typecast in these kinds of roles in the '80s, but I like him a lot. Sanchez is abominable in most ways, but he can be charming too. His downfall is the result of a defect in his character - that he's over-emotional and impulsive - which is as it should be. Bond ultimately gets to him just by finding his buttons and pushing them over and over again.

Not a complaint about the character, but another ding against the movie is the stinger missile plot. It's tacked on to give Pam something extra to do and provide a prop for the finale, but it doesn't have anything to do with the main story and the stakes around it aren't very high.

Sanchez' chief henchman is Dario, played by Benicio Del Toro. I'm hot and cold on Del Toro in general, but Licence is one of the movies where I really like him. He doesn't have to do much more than look terrifying and he does that well. He's not fleshed out enough to crack my Top Ten Henchmen, but I sort of don't want him to be. He's not one of the greats, but he's perfectly effective at what he's supposed to be doing.

Sanchez' organization is way more detailed than we usually see in a Bond movie. As I was compiling my list of Licence's henchmen, I realized how many underlings Sanchez has that not only have speaking parts, but are also integral to his business. There's the accountant Truman-Lodge and the head of security Heller, but also government agents like Ed Killifer and President Lopez who are in Sanchez' pocket. I'm not going to comment on all of them individually though.

One who does deserve a closer look is Milton Krest, partly because he's a Fleming character who was repurposed for Licence. The movie version doesn't have much in common with the book version though except that they're both slimy boat-owners who hunt for ocean animals. And Movie Krest is super slimy. Anthony Zerbe does a great job with him. His connection to Sanchez makes him blustery and brave around most people, but he's also clearly frightened of his boss. I love Krest's conversations with Lupe where she knows how to use Krest's fear against him. And I especially love Zerbe's performance when Sanchez interrogates him about the missing money. Krest has a drink in his hand and Zerbe plays him just slightly sloshed, hinting at other character flaws that are never explicitly stated.

Also not exactly a henchman, but in need of mention of Wayne Newton as Professor Joe. He makes no sense to Sanchez' operation, but Newton is so funny and awesomely cheesy that it just doesn't matter. I love every second he's on screen. Bless his heart.

Top Ten Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Never Say Never Again)
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love and Thunderball)
4. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5. Maximilian Largo (Never Say Never Again)
6. Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
7. Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)
8. Doctor No (Dr. No)
9. General Gogol (For Your Eyes Only)
10. Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Top Ten Henchmen

1. Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
2. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
3. Grant (From Russia with Love)
4. Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5. Gobinda (Octopussy)
6. May Day (A View to a Kill)
7. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker)
8. Naomi (The Spy Who Loved Me)
9. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
10. Necros (The Living Daylights)

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