U.S. Drug enforcement agents pick up MI-6 agent James Bond (Timothy Dalton) and CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) on the way to Leiter’s wedding in Key West and ask them to help them capture drug-lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) , but they still arrive in time for the wedding. Sanchez bribes DEA agent Ed Killefir (Everett McGill) and escapes. His henchman Dario (Benicio del Toro) captures Leiter and his bride Della (Priscilla Barnes). They lower Leiter into a shark tank. Bond arrives to find that Leiter is seriously maimed and Della had been raped and murdered. With Leiter’s friend Sharkey (Frank McRae), Bond investigates and discovers that Sanchez’s associate Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) runs a marine centre where Sanchez has a submarine and a cargo of cocaine.

Bond kills Killefer in the same shark tank. M (Robert Brown) orders him to Istanbul, but Bond refuses and goes rogue for his revenge, though Q (Desmond Llewelyn) helps him later. Bond boards Krest’s ship Wavekrest and ruins his drug shipment, stealing five million dollars. He learns that Sharkey has been killed by Sanchez’s henchmen. Bond teams up with Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), a pilot and DEA informant, and goes to the Republic of Isthmus, where he poses as a killer for hire and applies for a job with Sanchez.

Two Hong Kong narcotics officers (Diana Lee-Hsu and Cary-Hiroki Tagawa) prevent him from assassinating Sanchez and take him to an abandoned warehouse, where MI-6 agent Fallon (Christopher Neame) is there to arrest Bond. He is rescued by Sanchez’s men and they kill the officers. Later, with help from Q, Bouvier, and Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), Bond frames Krest by planting Sanchez’s money on his ship. Sanchez kills Krest in a decompression chamber. Bond is welcomed into the gang. He is taken to their base, the desert headquarters of a religious cult, where the gang dissolves cocaine in gasoline and sells it to Asian drug-dealers as apparent fuel. Televangelist Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton) is a middleman, communicating with clients on his TV broadcasts. Dario recognizes Bond and tries to kill him in a giant shredding machine, but Bond turns the tables on him.

The base catches on fire and Sanchez and company take off in a fleet of tanker trucks, filled with cocaine-laced fuel. There is a long chase and many crashes, and a gasoline-soaked Sanchez tries to kill Bond, but Bond sets him on fire with Felix Leiter’s gift cigarette lighter. Bond gets a call from Leiter telling him that M has complimented him and is offering him his old job back. Unimpressed, he turns his attention to Pam Bouvier.

The film was directed by John Glen for the last time on a Bond film, and it was the last time for Robert Brown as M and Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny, not to mention the second and last Bond film with Timothy Dalton. Also, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, and producer Albert Broccoli all died soon thereafter. It was the first Bond film not to take its title from a work by Ian Fleming. The film was praised for its stunts but heavily criticized for its dark tone. It’s really quite a dark and violent revenge story

The big chase at the end required sixteen eighteen-wheelers and the closing of Mexican Highway 2D in Baja California. The film received a PG-13 rating for the first time and Bond films have done so since. It did not make as much money as the others, possibly because it was competing with Lethal Weapon 2, The Abyss, Ghostbusters II, Batman, and Indiana Jones and Last Crusade with Sean Connery. It has been called financially unsuccessful, but that is not true. No Bond film has ever lost money. Some of the most gruesome scenes were cut and then restored for the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVD.

Well, we wanted a tough, gritty Bond after Roger Moore, and we got it. It’s as bloodthirsty as a Greek tragedy and quite as powerful at times. The fact that there were no more Timothy Dalton Bond movies might not be because of its darker tone, however. Dalton was in fact supposed to star in another, but legal issues with MGM took so long to iron out that I think Dalton just got tired. Robert Davi was once kidnapped in South America by a drug-lord who just wanted to tell him he had enjoyed his depiction of a drug-lord—a rare rave review he probably could have done without. Bond’s resignation scene was filmed in Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West.

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