LICENSE TO KILL Bond: Timothy Dalton - 2 tusks Maybe he wasn't perfect in Living Daylights, but he's perfect now. The infallible nature of Bond is stripped away. Controlled and channeled emotion is infused into the character. He's ruthless. He's a one-man army. Simply awesome.
Girl: Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier - 2 tusks I didn't really buy into her "tough" character at first, but as the movie progressed, she grew on me. And Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora was a great second Bond girl. It's not often the Bond movies play up the love triangle aspect even though there is often a second Bond girl. The dynamic here was interesting. Almost a little like "Betty & Veronica." Being a "Betty-fan," I'm glad that Pam Bouvier won out in the end.
Opening Theme: "License to Kill" performed by Gladys Knight - 2 tusks From what I've gathered, this song is much maligned. I thought it was great and set the mood for the movie just fine. There was a lot of brass in that theme and it even has a throwback sound to Goldfinger.
Villain: Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez - 2 tusks Sanchez is a great modern Bond villain. He shows a realistic way a villain can try to "take over the world" in the modern day. He is also very much like Bond in many ways.
Pre-title opening sequence - 2 tusks Fun action sequence that does a good job setting the stage for the rest of the movie. It was a little over the top, but it effectively re-establishes the relationship between Bond and Felix.
Story: This movie was ahead of it's time. When Dalton did it, it was financially unsuccessful, but when Daniel Craig did it in Casino Royale almost 20 year later, it was widely accepted. Gruffing up Bond and taking him back to his novel roots (something that really hadn't happened in the movies to this extreme since Dr. No) makes the character 100 times more interesting than he had been for years.
The story of revenge is a great departure for Bond and I love that he is so blinded by his thirst for revenge that he actually messes up a couple of other operations already in progress to take Sanchez down. There's no shortage of action in this movie. And with the exception of some outlandish semi tricks, it's mostly a more realistic action, although the Bond movies had been moving in that direction for the previous four entries.
The absolute worst part about this movie was the call to a rather chipper Felix at the end of the movie. Felix has lost a limb and his wife and is sitting up in bed talking to Bond like nothing has happened. I have to believe that there was studio involvement in that. They should have simply killed Felix off or had a rewrite of that scene that reflected the emotional turmoil that Felix must be in. I could have also done with another scene with M. Robert Brown makes his final appearance as M here and although he doesn't come close to his predecessor or successor, I think he deserved one more final scene where he welcomed Bond back perceivably begrudgingly.
Another thing I loved about this movie was the brief glimpse into Bond's personal life. We see Della for just a few minutes but her chemistry with Bond help sells their long history and makes the loss of her character more potent. Of course, this was helped by calling back to Bond's brief marriage. This is the kind of movie that Diamonds Are Forever should have been. Bond should have been tearing the world apart to get to Blofeld.
The Dalton movies sum up what I believe should have been happening with these movies for some time. By this point in the franchise, it's time to shake things up. The Living Daylights is very much a typical Bond "formula" movie. License to Kill is very much off-formula. They should have continued to operate like that. Unfortunately, Dalton never had a chance to do another Bond movie due to all the delays and a waning interest.