Everything You Need to Know Before Watching ‘No Time to Die’

James Bond

Dum didi dum dum, dum dum dum, dum didi dum dum, dum dum dum, DANOW, now ow ow.

It’s Bond season once again and the last ride for Daniel Craig as the tux-wearing, martini-drinking, Walther-PPK-carrying British spy and hoo boy are we excited to see what’s in store.

If the reviews are anything to go by, as, annoyingly, Australia is one of the last countries to get the cinematic debut, No Time to Die is going to be a worthy end for one of the most successful and well respected Bond actors.

If it’s been a little while since you’ve seen a Bond film, or you’ve never caught one before in your life, here’s a quick refresher of everything you need to know before seeing the latest 00 epic.

The Name’s Bond

Created by author and real-life British secret service agent, Ian Fleming, James Bond started life as a series of books based on the author and his colleagues exploits during WWII and the post-war era.

There have been 27 Bond films so far, depending on how you count, starting in 1961 with Dr. No. It’s one of the most popular film franchises of all time, spanning generations, and has earned a grand total of $7 billion in revenue while creating many cultural touchstones, reference points, and parodies like Austin Powers and Johnny English.

Typically the films revolve around special agent James Bond thwarting the plot of a maniacal super villain with ambitions for world domination through a combination of special gadgets, military skill, and irresistible charm. They’re packed with explosions, witty one-liners, and half naked ladies who often end up being seduced by Bond and then killed by someone else.

Craig has overseen five of the films, starting with 2006’s Casino Royale. He took up the reigns from the previous-generation’s agent of suave, Pierce Brosnan and ushered in a new era for 007, bringing what was a thoroughly outdated character into the 21st Century.

While the books and the films remain classics, they also reflect the culture of their era, complete with casual racism, imperialist dogma, and outright misogyny. Cary Fukunaga, the director of No Time to Die, has said that the OG Bond of the Sean Connery era would be considered a rapist by today’s standards and, looking back at some of the early films, it’s hard to not feel pretty uneasy about his behaviour.

Craig’s Bond is, thankfully, a much more sympathetic figure. He is a blunt instrument of duty forced to confront personal tragedies, a British spy for a world that is pretty sure it no longer needs spies or the fading influence of the British Empire.

Although seven actors have played Bond, and the times have well and truly changed, the franchise operates on a moving timeline, often not acknowledging the change in actors or the exploits of previous films. This means you don’t really need to see any of the others to understand the one you’re watching.

The Craig films, however, work differently and understanding what has happened before is important when watching them. So, what’s Bond been up to in the four films before No Time to Die? Here’s a brief rundown including huge spoilers for all films except No Time to Die.

Casino Royale

This is our first introduction to Craig as Bond and, interestingly, takes us right back to the start of his career. Casino Royale was also the first Bond book Fleming wrote and it sees Bond ascend to 00 status, earning his license to kill and becoming a fully-fledged secret agent.

In Casino Royale, the baddie is a guy named Le Chiffre, a money launderer for the world’s terrorist networks who gambles with their cash. Losing a large chunk of money, Le Chiffre has to win it all back at a high-rollers poker game. In short, Bond has to outplay Le Chiffre at the poker table, forcing him to turn himself over to MI6 for protection from his former clients. Bond, of course, does this, but not without a few shenanigans going down. He’s helped out by CIA agent Felix Leiter, played by Jeffrey Wright of Westworld fame.

James bond and vesper lynd
Image: Daniel Craig as James Bond and Eva Green as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale / MGM

During the film, Bond falls in love with his colleague, Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green. At the end of the film they sail off into the sunset, all appearing well until Lynd drains their account of poker winnings and tries to hand them off to Le Chiffre’s former colleagues.

The big twist is that she was being blackmailed by Le Chiffre’s organisation through a man named Mr White. They had kidnapped her long-term partner and were holding him hostage to ensure they couldn’t lose the poker game. Lynd is apparently so overcome with grief at betraying Bond that she takes her own life, leaving Bond out for revenge against this mysterious organisation. In the final scene, we see him track down and capture Mr White at his home.

Overall, the film is a cracking suspense thriller with arguably the best opening song of the five films, however, it is a pretty standard Bond outing that doesn’t really offer anything groundbreaking for the franchise. Still, an excellent introduction to Craig as Bond that defied all critical expectation.

Quantum of Solace

The following film is a direct sequel to Casino Royale which is unusual for a Bond film. It follows the events of the previous one so closely that it might as well be considered a part two. However, despite its excellent opening track and pacey action scenes, it’s widely considered to be highly confusing and somewhat redundant.

The film opens with Bond on the run and Mr White in the boot of his car. Hoping to find out more about his organisation, he brings him in to be interrogated by M, the head of MI6, played by Judi Dench. However, all he tells them is that the organisation is everywhere before M’s long-term bodyguard turns on them, allowing Mr White to escape.

The rest of the film is a tangled web of leads and assassinations leading up to an Elon Musk-type figure called Dominic Greene, a billionaire benefactor who is actually using his wealth and supposed charity projects to destabilise governments in developing nations and exploit them. You don’t really need to know anything that happens except that the organisation behind it all is called Quantum, which is only mentioned in passing at the end of the film.

In the final scene, Bond tracks down Lynd’s supposed boyfriend, who, it turns out, is a con man working for Quantum to seduce powerful women and blackmail them by pretending to get abducted. Bond, in learning to deal with his anger, turns him over to MI6 instead of killing him. It’s something of a vindication of Lynd who he still clearly holds a candle for.


Skyfall sees Bond back on form and is generally thought to be the best of the Craig movies. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the previous two films and deals more with Bond as an ageing and outdated icon, however, three classic key characters are reintroduced who are worth remembering.

On a mission in Morocco, Bond is accidentally shot by his partner who we later discover to be Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris. Moneypenny later becomes M’s secretary and it’s only taken 25 films to give her a first name or a backstory aside from ‘hot girl who Bond flirts with’.

Image: Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall / MGM

The first half of the film is Bond being told he’s no longer needed while the second half sees him prove why he is after a former-agent-turned-supervillain manages to bring MI6 to its knees in a highly convoluted plot to kill M in revenge for allowing his capture and subsequent torture.

Because this is the terrifying future of 2012, the internet is the big danger here as the bad guy, Raoul Silva, does his evil deeds on his laptop, bringing London to a standstill. This is where we meet Ben Wishaw’s Q, MI6’s head of gadgetry, who usually gives Bond something ridiculous like an exploding umbrella or a laser watch but because these are serious films now Bond gets nothing but a gun and a tiny radio.

As Silva appears to have spies everywhere and all tech is suspicious, Bond flees with M to his former childhood home, Skyfall, in a remote part of Scotland.

There the pair of them team up with an aging gamekeeper, who apparently has no issue in joining the fight against a private army, and they lay a Home Alone-style series of traps to defend the house from Silva.

M is wounded in the ensuing battle but Bond manages to kill the attackers, including Silva, however, he cannot save M who passes away. Ralph Fiennes, as Gareth Mallory, M’s boss, takes over the role, becoming the new M.

Skyfall became the first Bond film to gross over $1 billion and is the seventh highest-earning film of all time. It’s definitely worth a rewatch, even if it doesn’t directly add to the plot for the Craig films.


The fourth film in the franchise deals with the shadowy organisation known as Spectre who, it turns out, is the overarching director of all the previous film’s villains, with Quantum a sub-division of the group.

Bond receives a secret message from M, recorded before her death, and is on the hunt for a man named Marco Sciarra who he finds and kills in Mexico City, taking a silver ring from his hand with an octopus symbol embedded in it. In the process, he manages to blow up a building, causing chaos and problems for MI6. He’s suspended from duty but attends the funeral of Sciarra which leads him to a gathering of Spectre members headed by a man named Franz Oberhauser AKA Ernesto Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz.

ernesto blofeld
Image: Christoph Waltz as Ernesto Blofeld in Spectre / MGM

The ‘Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion’ or ‘SPECTRE’ for short and it’s evil leader Blofeld are recurring villains in the Bond franchise. They’re basically the illuminati, pulling the strings from the shadows with unlimted power and knowledge.

Bond, after escaping the meeting, tracks Blofeld down with the assistance of Mr White who then takes his own life. White’s daughter, Madeleine Swann, helps Bond stop MI6 from being taken over and assumed into the ‘Nine Eyes’ global security programme, a parody of the real Five Eyes partnership, by Spectre double-agents at the top of the British government.

At the end of the film, Blofeld attempts to blow up the remains of the crippled MI6 building that Silva half-destroyed in the previous film with Bond and Swann inside. Bond escapes, shoots down Blofeld’s helicopter, and leaves him disfigured but alive at the end of the film before driving off in an Aston Martin with Swann.

That’s just about everything you’ll need to know going into No Time to Die. Solving the mysteries of the latest flick is now up to you.

See No Time to Die at HOYTS cinemas everywhere from today, 11 November. Get your tux on for the occasion at a HOYTS LUX screening to see the film with a premium dine in cinema experience.

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