Bond takes on a brand new villain
By QUENTIN FALK
JAMES BOND, like Diamonds, is forever. But what else do a total of two billion plus cinema goers often best remember from the super-agent's first 15 official screen adventures? Beautiful women? Fast-moving action? Intriguing gadgetry? Exotic locations? All of those, naturally.
Plus, of course, a hissably, suave baddie. From Dr. No, back in 1962, to The Living Daylights in 1987, the world's favourite secret agent has been opposed by a series of particularly memorable megavillains. Who can forget Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray), Mr Big (Yaphet Kotto), Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), Hugo Drax (Michel Lonsdale) and Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) — to name but a few?
Now as Timothy Dalton sets out on his second — and Bond's 16th — big-screen outing as 007 in Licence To Kill, a brand new nasty joins the colourful rogues' gallery that has been assembled in 27 years of Bond. RANZ Sanchez is a billionaire drugs overlord who controls his evil empire from a lavish headquarters in the Central American state of Isthmus City. When his security is penetrated first by veteran CIA operative Felix Leiter and then by Bond himself, Sanchez's retribution is swift and violent. The role of Sanchez represents the "big break" for New York-born actor Robert Davi, who says of it: "If Shakespeare were alive today, this is the kind of character he would be writing about."
A one-time opera singer, Davi has appeared in a number of successful pictures, mostly playing heavies. He was a mercenary opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Raw Deal, Jake Fratelli in The Goonies, Tony Moretti in Action Jackson and, most recently, Big Johnson in the blockbuster Die Hard.>/p>
As Flicks readers probably already know, this time out in the Cubby Broccoli-Michael G. Wilson production, co-written by Wilson and Richard Maibaum, Bond is on his own. Stripped of his 007 prefix, and dismissed from the service, he sets out on a personal mission of revenge against Sanchez, though not without some handy, explosive goodies supplied by his old sparring partner, O (played as ever by Desmond Llewellyn). Back to the lure of villains. According to Premiere magazine, shortly before shooting began on Licence To Kill, Robert Davi was summoned to a meeting with Cubby Broccoli.
"I walked in the door," said Davi, "and there was Timothy Dalton. I didn't know he would be there, had never met him. He looked at me sternly, not saying a word. Neither of us spoke. It was like Tyson and Spinks.
"This went on for two minutes — who was going to break first? Finally I said, 'I think the script is terrific.' "And he said, 'I think you have a great part. In fact, why don' t you play Bond, and I' ll play the villain.' And then we laughed and I knew everything would be okay."
ROGUE MALE: Robert Devi (top and above) as Franz Sanchez. Left: Timothy Dalton as 007 James Bond FLICKS, July 1989