The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
The James Bond movies have by now taken on the discipline of a sonnet or a kabuki drama: Every film follows the same story outline so rigidly that we can predict almost to the minute such obligatory developments as (1) the introduction of the villain's specialized hit man; (2) the long shot that establishes the villain's incredibly luxurious secret hideout; (3) the villain's fatal invitation to Bond to spend the night; (4) the moment when the villain's mistress falls for Bond; (5) the series of explosions destroying the secret fortress, and (6) the final spectacular stunt sequence.
Connoisseurs evaluate the elements in a Bond picture as if they were movements in a symphony, or courses in a meal. There are few surprises, and the changes are evolutionary, so that the latest Bond picture is recognizable as a successor to the first, "Dr. No," in 1962. Within this framework of tradition, "Licence to Kill" nevertheless manages to spring some interesting surprises. One is that the Bond character, as played now for the second time by Timothy Dalton, has become less of a British icon and more of an international action hero. The second is that the tempo has been picked up, possibly in response to the escalating pace of the Rambo and Indiana Jones movies. The third is that the villain has fairly modest aims, for a change; he doesn't want to rule the world, he only wants to be a cocaine billionaire.
I've grown uneasy lately about the fashion of portraying drug smugglers in glamorous lifestyles; they're viewed with some of the same glamor as gangsters were, in films of the 1930s. Sure, they die in the end, but they have a lot of fun in the meantime. In "Licence to Kill," however, the use of a drug kingpin named Sanchez (Robert Davi) and his henchmen (Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae) is apparently part of an attempt to update the whole series and make it feel more contemporary.
There are still, of course, the obligatory scenes. The film begins with a sensationally unbelievable stunt sequence (Bond and friend lasso a plane, then parachute to a wedding ceremony). But then the action switches to the recognizable modern world in and around Key West, Fla., where the British agent finds himself involved in an operation to capture Sanchez and cut his pipeline of cocaine.