Timothy Dalton delivers a brilliant performance but the script's focus on a leaner, meaner Bond is undone by veteran director John Glen, who was just too stuck in the series' campy mentality. Glen knew how to film stunts to perfection but his fight scenes always come across as limp and staged. If someone like Michael Mann had directed this, all Bond fans would be worshiping at the throne of Dalton right now.
Second Dalton entry brought the series to a halt for a few years losing whatever good will the first entry gained. The main problem is this film suffers from something no other entry did....it's kind of boring. Revenge plot pales next to similar themed Lazenby entry. Underwritten and kind of lame. Interesting in seeing a very young Benico Del Toro capture a dangerous henchman.
Any seriousness or promise indicated in The Living Daylights is thrown out the window here. Its a regression back to the silly, nonsensical plots of the Roger Moore films, which is incredibly frustrating, having hoped I was finally out of the weird, wildly inane and sexist dark. Can see why there was a six year gap between this and Bond's next adventure.
Licence to Kill is the definitive Timothy Dalton Bond film, and quite possibly the most violent Bond of them all. Dalton is in his element as Bond-on-the-edge; removed of his licence to kill and prepared at all costs to exact vengeance on the men who fed Felix Leiter (David Hedison) to the sharks. Highlights include a tanker-truck chase and Robert Davi as one of the best villains in the entire series.
An improvement over the snooze fest that was "The Living Daylights," but still not up to snuff. Bond was never Shakespeare, but it was and should be at least a little fun. Dalton is too damn serious in the role. He never lets the audience in on the joke. He never gives in to the essential absurdity of Bond. His reserved performance is a lead weight holding the film back from the campy places it obviously needs to go.
Total 180 from the last film, Dalton plays a dark Bond who doesn't give a shit about the law, only getting vengeance for his friend's mutilation. Bond was revitalized, and people didn't like it. Fuck people.
In the end, Licence to Kill is darker and realistic than other Bond movies before it. Led by Timothy Dalton's different interpretation as cold-blooded James Bond which made the film more intense and gripping. Those spectacular action sequences also made the film more exciting to watch.