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No Time To Die: What We Know About Rami Malek's Safin So Far

Safin sits calmly in his lair in No Time To Die.

The world of James Bond has always been one of mystery, with culprits hiding in the shadows and waiting for the right moment to strike. Upholding that tradition is No Time To Die, as Daniel Craig’s big Bond finale is raising a lot of questions when it comes to loyalty on both sides. In terms of the good guys, Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Madeleine Swann is the person who remains a mystery when it comes to how her secrets could destroy James Bond. In the world of the villains though, it’s Rami Malek’s Safin who poses the most questions. So let’s run down what we do know about the latest Bond baddie and see what we can’t piece together in the process.

Safin stands creepily in a tunnel in No Time To Die.

His Full Name Is Lyutsyfer Safin

It may seem silly, but multiple reports have seen No Time To Die’s antagonist being given the full name of Lyutsyfer Safin. While the James Bond series has never been above giving their characters weird or punny names, Taschen’s The James Bond Archives confirms this in some of the pages they’ve shown off in the latest updated edition. Then again, once upon a time, we were told that Franz Oberhauser was the name of Spectre’s villain, only for Ernst Stavro Blofeld to be revealed in the long run. So Safin could find himself revealing his true nature once we see him on the big screen.

Safin in No Time To Die and Dr No pictured side by side

Rumors Have Pointed To Safin Actually Being Dr. No, Or A Modern Reinvention

The issue with Lyutsyfer Safin’s name is a big one, because there’s been a persistent rumor that Rami Malek is actually playing a modern version of the classic Bond villain Dr. No. While Malek himself would certainly never dissuade people from thinking that, No Time To Die has shown the world enough evidence that could allow the matter to play out either way. Rumors and names aside, there are some cold hard details that have given us something to truly sink our teeth into when discussing Safin, his plot and motivations.

Safin hunting while wearing his broken mask in No Time To Die.

Safin Once Belonged To SPECTRE, Working As An Assassin

By the end of Spectre, James Bond had unmasked the worldwide syndicate that has been behind every act of treachery since 2006’s Casino Royale. Even with Blofeld in custody by the end of the film, it felt like we’d be seeing that organization a lot in the future, as those sorts of places tend to have backup plans for when this sort of thing happens. Safin definitely once belonged to the ranks of SPECTRE, working as an assassin for their cause. That doesn’t appear to be the case any more; in fact, in No Time To Die, it looks like he’s crossed them in a massive way.

Blofeld taunts James Bond in his cell in No Time To Die.

Even Ernst Stavro Blofeld Considers Safin An Enemy

When you’re a criminal mastermind with an axe to grind against your adopted brother, as well as aspirations to be a maniacal power broker like Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), you tend to make quite a few enemies. However, you’d expect those people to come from the side of good, and not from your own office pool of hired killers. No Time To Die has Safin most definitely on the bad side of the imprisoned Blofeld, as he considers him a common enemy that he and James Bond share. When you can share a nemesis with the man who's historically been your greatest foe, something has to be up.

James Bond stands in front of a wall of vials in No Time To Die.

His Main Goal Seems To Involve Targeted Biological Warfare

What could have possibly made Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Lyutsyfer Safin enemies? Well, when you look at their ultimate goals, it might not be hard to suss out. In Spectre, Blofeld was all about infiltrating the world’s intelligence organizations, with some money laundering, terrorism and human trafficking on the side. But apparently even SPECTRE has to draw the line somewhere, and if the new details about No Time To Die are to be believed, Safin is dabbling very heavily in selective genetic warfare. Counter-intelligence, terrorism, revenge and extortion are well and good for the modern Blofeld, but this sort of plot might be something only the classic, unhinged variant of the character may be into.

Madeleine Swann holds a box with tears in her eyes in No Time To Die.

Killing Madeleine Swann’s Mother Was Part Of Safin’s Work With SPECTRE

One last note about Safin’s previous employment with SPECTRE seems to be a pretty big sticking point in No Time To Die’s pre-release campaign. As we learned from an interview with director Cary Joji Fukunaga himself, the 25th James Bond film will be opening with an atypical flashback sequence, depicting the death of Madeleine Swann’s mother. This was apparently an act at the hands of one Lyutsyfer Safin, and prompted the young Swann to use a gun to protect herself. That day seems to have forged a bond between Safin and Swann, with his resulting fixation potentially being explained in one, simple explanation.

Safin looks cooly to the side in No Time To Die.

Lyutsyfer Safin May Be In Love With Madeleine Swann

Independent of his extracurricular activities involving targeted DNA attacks, Lyutsyfer Safin may have found a bit of a romantic interest in his life. As heard in the final trailer for No Time To Die, Rami Malek’s big bad makes particular note of James Bond’s love affair with Dr. Madeleine Swann when likening him to his own reflection. That line wasn’t present in earlier trailers, and the inclusion this late in the game seems to suggest that on top of world domination, Safin may have some romantic jealousy issues he’s trying to work through. It’s just a shame that he had to kidnap a scientist and steal some technology pertaining to genetic warfare to do so.

What you see above is a profile of the man we’ve come to know as Lyutsyfer Safin, the main antagonist of No Time To Die. Any of this could change, remain true or evolve into something greater once the story of the film begins to unfold. September 30 is when our UK readers will be able to learn the truth, while October 8 is the opening day for US readers to take that plunge. Whatever the end result may be, the Daniel Craig era of James Bond could end with its finest hour.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.