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** This post contains the kind of spoilers you don’t want to read before seeing the film **
No Time to Die, the fifth and final installment of the Daniel Craig-era James Bond films, has been out for a little while now, giving us just enough time to really process what the hell actually happened in the film.
It’s been pitted as the great white hope for the revival of cinema in the post-pandemic era, as fans return to theatres to soak up the action that only the silver screen can offer. Since its 1 October release in the UK, the film has grossed over USD $700 million worldwide, proving that the blockbuster is still a force to be reckoned with in such turbulent times.
There’s good reason for the hype. The film has an incredible cast of top-flight actors, including Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux Jeffrey Wright, Naomi Harris, Chritoph Waltz, and Ralph Finnes — as well as relative newcomers Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas. The script is aided by the addition of Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge to the team and the debut Bond direction of Cary Joji Fukunaga offers a cinematography delight unlike any we’ve seen before.
We all knew it was to be Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, but it was hard to imagine that would be the way he would go out. Craig — who took over the role as the MI6 agent of suave from Pierce Brosnan in 2006’s Casino Royale — has been drinking martinis and taking names for just over 15 years and it’s no secret the demands of the job have left him somewhat bruised and battered. Craig wanted to leave the role after 2015’s Spectre but was talked into one last hurrah in No Time to Die.
While critics have been generally positive about the film, there is a lingering sense that it may have jumped the shark and gone too far in its need to remain gritty, realistic, and final.
Here’s why we think No Time to Die was, in fact, the perfect send-off for Daniel Craig’s James Bond. And, if we convince you to go for round two and re-watch the movie in-cinema, be sure to grab yourself an $11 general admission (or $25 HOYTS LUX) ticket every Tuesday at HOTS cinema. Simply head to eBay and follow the prompts to book those discounted eBay Tuesdays tickets.
The Craig era was different in that it decided to turn the five films into something of a continuous drama. While Casino Royale and Skyfall could have been standalone adventures, which arguably made them the stronger films of the series, Spectre cemented the movies together into a somewhat coherent narrative that No Time to Die rounded out.
In doing so, the film pays beautiful homage to the pulse-quickening ride that Craig has taken us on and to the legacy of the series itself.
We see this, of course, in the film’s opening scene at the grave of Vesper Lynd and know from the outset that Bond’s past will catch up with him further throughout the film. Then we’ve got the parade of familiar faces with Felix Lieter, who arguably should have got a better send off, Bill Tanner, the MI6 Chief of Staff, Ernst Blofeld, and of course, Moneypenny, Q, and M. All the familiar characters who have accompanied Bond throughout the past few films support him through this one, with greater sympathy and compassion, as though we’re watching old friends reunite.
Then there are the throwbacks and easter eggs dotted throughout. Q’s cat, a hairless sphinx, is a reference to the same type of cat owned by Dr Evil in Austin Powers, a nod to the campness and humour of the old films. In one sequence on Safin’s island, Bond turns and shoots at the camera down a hallway in much the same way as the classic walk, turn, and shoot sequence of the film openers and closers. The island lair of the villain Safin is also reminiscent of Dr No, the first big-screen Bond villain.
The classic tropes are all there too. The infamous introductory line, the way he orders his martini, and the exquisite automobiles. The Aston Martin DB5 with the mini-gun headlights is quintessentially Bond and was first used in Goldfinger. The later Aston Martin V8 Vanquish seen in Norway is another reference to The Living Daylights. It’s all just very, very Bond and enjoyable to the last.
While the film itself pays loving tribute to the legacy of the series, it also thoroughly updates it for 2021 in a way that feels more inclusively enjoyable. No longer the most macho man in a man’s world, Bond is supplanted by a badass Black woman in Nomi (played by Lashana Lynch) and one of the best scenes in the film is the all too short appearance of the new recruit Paloma (Ana de Armas) in Cuba.
Although it’s shown that the world no longer needs Bond, it’s good to have him back one last time.
No Time to Die Ending Explained
So, James Bond is dead. There’s no real getting around this as we see his silhouette against the missile explosions as they rain down on the island. Of course, he could be written back into it, miraculously, but this might be stretching believability too far.
Bond had the nanobots programmed with Madeline and Mathilde’s DNA scratched into him by Safin and, rather than infecting them with it and killing them, he chooses to stay behind and die on the island.
It’s tough to see Bond die, but at the same time, it’s a bold and exhilarating move from Fukunaga as it’s the first time the character has actually been killed. In some ways, it goes against the nature of Bond as a semi-superhero but then again, it fits the character perfectly. Bond couldn’t let go of his past at the start of the film but, by the end, he makes the sacrifice he needs to in order to protect the women he loves. He’s saved the world once again and seems to accept his fate.
The ending itself is partially taken from the novel You Only Live Twice. In the book, it’s Blofeld who nearly kills Bond on his secret island off the coast of Japan. Like Safin, he too has a garden of death on the island. Bond escapes, blowing up the island in the process, but is injured and presumed dead. He suffers amnesia and lives as a Japanese fisherman. The following book, The Man With the Golden Gun, sees Bond return as a brainwashed Russian agent sent to kill M. It’s unlikely that the writers will go down this path but it does leave the door slightly ajar.
As Madeline and Mathilde drive off into the sunset, again a throwback to the previous film, the music that plays over the closing credits is the song We Have All The Time In The World, the same song used in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the other only Bond film where the character has a serious relationship. At the end of that movie, Bond marries a women named Tracy who is then killed by Spectre on the way to the honeymoon. It’s yet again a reference to the series and a suggestion that Bond can never be truly happy.
Will James Bond Return?
If you stayed to the very end of the credits, the line ‘James Bond will return’ appears on the screen. This is contained at the end of every film, including the ones before the actors change, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Craig will be returning.
There is a theory in the Bond fandom that ‘James Bond’ is just as much of a code name as 007, and that each actor taking on the role also adopts the code name, backstory, and persona. Although it’s never really been addressed in the films, George Lazenby’s Bond makes a remark about not getting a girl as “never happening to the other guy” while M is played by Judy Dench across both the Pierce Brosnan and Craig films.
The ending of this latest film somewhat complicates this theory, as either the next Bond will have to address the fact that the last guy has a child and a fully developed backstory, or they’ll simply go for the soft reboot and we’ll see Bond mid-career on another missions.
While Craig is almost definitely out, the speculation continues over who will take up the tux next. It’ll likely be a few years yet until we see 007 back in action but there’s no doubt he’ll be back. Hopefully it will be worth the wait, as Craig has proven himself an incredibly tough act to follow.
No Time to Die is in cinemas now. If you didn’t catch everything the first time around, make sure to grab yourself an $11 general admission (or $25 HOYTS LUX) ticket every Tuesday to re-live the action. Simply head to eBay and follow the prompts to book those discounted eBay Tuesdays tickets.