Warning: deep spoiler territory is about to be explored, as we’re going hard on the No Time To Die ending. If you haven’t seen the film yet, exit through the gun barrel and come back when you’re ready.
Almost two years after we were initially supposed to see Daniel Craig close out his run as James Bond, No Time To Die has finally made its theatrical debut. With an ending that’s sure to get people talking, the fifteen year run of the Craig era has reached its epic conclusion. We’ve walked every other path in this road so far, from Casino Royale’s amazing introduction of a classic hero to Spectre’s twisted reinvention of an old foe. Now, it’s time to see how No Time To Die concluded Daniel Craig’s era of James Bond, and how Mr. Craig ended his historic run.
Before we get started, a quick warning: yes, we’re going to seriously spoil No Time To Die. So if you want to catch up on director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s entry into James Bond canon before reading, now’s the time to turn back. Don’t worry, there’s other refreshers like our rundown on the roles entries like Quantum of Solace and Skyfall played in the scheme of things. From this point on, it’s time to talk about No Time To Die’s big ticket finale.
What Happened At The End Of No Time To Die?
In a desperate bid to end the threat that was Lyustifer Safin (Rami Malek,) James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Nomi (Lashana Lynch) infiltrate the island lair that their shared nemesis is occupying. A contested piece of land that the Russian and Chinese governments both want to stake claim to, Safin runs his “poison garden” from this secluded spot. To make matters worse, he’s captured Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and her daughter Mathilde. After rousing action, and a confrontation between Bond and Safin, Madeleine and Mathilde are whisked away to safety by Nomi.
Unfortunately, a fight between the newly reinstated 007 and his rival leaves him with no choice but to sacrifice himself. After one final conversation with Madeleine over the radio, the reconciled lovers are permanently separated. Commander James Bond dies in an explosion, courtesy of the Royal Navy, in a bid to protect those he loved most.
James Bond And M: One Last Mission
After the events of Spectre saw James Bond retired from active service, he eventually found himself back in the employ of M (Ralph Fiennes) and Her Majesty’s government. And this time, it was a reluctant re-hire, as Bond stumbled upon an old secret project that he thought was shut down. Project Heracles, a top secret weapons project developed by M and defected scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik,) has just been stolen by SPECTRE.
Designed to provide a clean and efficient way of eliminating a target, Heracles is a DNA targeting weapon that is coded to eliminate a specific genetic signature. What’s worse is that not even Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) knows that Obruchev is really working for Safin. Winding through a maze of intrigue that spirals from this off the books project developed over a decade, Project Heracles also throws James back into the life of his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Madeleine Swann.
James Bond And Madeleine Swann: The Daniel Craig Era’s Ultimate Romance
While the shadow of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) has haunted him since her death in Casino Royale, James Bond has finally found it in his heart to move on in No Time To Die. Dr. Madeleine Swann, ready to have a future with James, basically tells him that this act of cleansing is essential to moving on. Unfortunately, it’s this errand that kicks off James’ distrust of Madeleine.
Before Ernst Stavro Blofeld plants the seed of doubt in James Bond’s mind, No Time To Die sees this pair of lovers vacationing in Matera. In a beautiful moment of romance, we see James doing all he can to allow the woman he loves into a clear and open heart. Thanks to some subterfuge from his villainous adopted brother, James is motivated to put Madeleine on a train, intending to never see her again. Five years later, her secret would finally come to light.
The Past Isn’t Dead, Or Madeleine Swann’s Big Secret Revealed
Throughout the run up to No Time To Die, Dr. Madeleine Swann has been teased as possessing a deadly secret of some sort. Blofeld himself has been teasing James Bond, saying that “when her secret finds its way out, it’ll be the death of you.” Little did he know how correct he was, as the big secret Madeleine had been trying to tell James since the first act is that she was pregnant with his child: her daughter, Mathilde.
After their unexpected reunion, and Bond’s ability to locate her in seclusion in No Time To Die, James and Madeleine catch up with each other. The other piece to her huge secret is that Safin, the man who killed her mother in her Spectre backstory, is obsessed with her. It’s his obsession that ultimately kills James Bond, as Safin has cooked up a special variant of Project Heracles: one that will kill Madeleine and Mathilde with merely a touch.
Safin, The Daniel Craig Era’s Ultimate Threat
Safin has his reasons for hijacking Project Heracles in No Time To Die, and it’s for one very simple objective: to wipe out all of SPECTRE’s members, including Blofeld. The survivor of his family’s systematic murder by Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), Lyutsifer Safin is the ultimate threat to James Bond. That’s because, ultimately, he’s the darkest reflection of Bond’s loss of family, and the motivation it gave him to become a 00-agent.
Forced to confront his darker image, No Time To Die sees James Bond finally facing down his own path through life. Safin doesn’t follow orders, and challenges the authority that he used to serve. The only problem is, this villain lets himself become engulfed in vengeance, to the point where it gives him a God complex. So much so, that his final lines put a fine point on this specific parallel:
James Bond finds himself able to love again, and in the name of not losing any more people near and dear to him, he sacrifices himself. So long as he’s alive, with Project Heracles running through his veins, he’s a threat to Madeleine and Mathilde. Even if he wandered the world a lonely shell of a man, the world population would eventually circulate the nanobots targeting their DNA right to their doorstep. All because Safin couldn’t let go of Madeleine.
Nomi, And The Continuation Of The 007 Legacy
In the absence of James Bond in Her Majesty’s secret service, a new 007 takes the world’s stage. Introduced to us as Nomi (Lashana Lynch), she’s initially a rival that operates on the opposite side of Bond, who was recruited into the Project Heracles debacle by CIA agent and dear friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright.) After their chaotic matchup in Cuba, where James and Paloma (Ana de Armas) steal Valdo Obruchev from Nomi’s custody, it looks like that rivalry is set in stone.
But through twists and turns that see Safin get the upper hand, and the death of Felix Leiter taking place because of turncoat/former State Department employee Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen), Bond finds himself with very few friends. Reinstated into the 00 program, and after a bit of scrapping in the wake of the failure in Cuba to prevent Safin from stealing Valdo Obruchev, James and Nomi eventually find themselves willing partners. Her by-the-book methods compliment Bond’s more cavalier nature, and ultimately the two prove to be an effective pairing.
How No Time To Die Concluded The Daniel Craig Era Of James Bond
No Time To Die is the most appropriate conclusion to the Daniel Craig era, as James Bond has been allowed to do a lot of things fans would have never dreamed of. The usually self assured hero saw himself broken down, and left vulnerable by loss throughout his five film arc. 007 sought vengeance, but over time he developed skills and strategies that allowed him to not be consumed by his losses. By the end of No Time To Die, Bond giving his life to save Madeleine and Mathilde is the ultimate symbol of Ian Fleming’s hero letting go of his tragic past, and becoming a hero in the process.
That final toast between M, Q (Ben Whishaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Tanner (Rory Kinnear), and Nomi shows all you need to know about the legacy James Bond leaves behind in No Time To Die. The orphan without a family saw the path he could have traveled, were he more vengeful and less heroic. Even though he annoyed every one of his beloved co-workers at one point or another, James Bond found himself with a family after all.
Of course, the most enduring symbol of Bond finding a family is the fact that No Time To Die saw James become a father. Even if it was for five minutes in his life, Bond got to have breakfast with Madeleine and Mathilde, united as a family unit. He only got a glimpse of that good life Felix told him about before he died, but it was enough for James Bond to know his sacrifice was worth it.
So there you have it. The story of the man named Bond, James Bond has come to a bittersweet close. No Time To Die offers a definitive conclusion to Daniel Craig’s era of James Bond, taking his emotional and thematic journey to the endpoint that it kind of seemed destined to arrive at. Whomever steps into the role of Bond next has a lot of work ahead of them, because even if the next film is another reboot, the shadow cast by this movie will undoubtedly be discussed by fans who either loved it or hated it.
For those of you who have seen No Time To Die, we apologize for the emotional trauma we’ve resurrected post-viewing. However, if you’re one of those people that hasn’t seen the film, and needed it spoiled for you ahead of time, you can catch Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie in theaters now, if not in the near future. Either way, take comfort knowing you can check the 2021 movie premiere dates for something lighter and funnier. And if you’re looking to catch up on the James Bond movies in order, you have all the time in the world to get that done.
- Want more commentary on the No Time To Die ending? Check out Sean O'Connell's video discussing the James Bond movie's conclusion here.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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