Daniel Craig’s run as the cinematic James Bond will go down in history. Not only did Craig fully reinvent the image of James Bond for the 21st century, but his five film appearances between 2006’s Casino Royale to 2021’s No Time to Die did something no James Bond film has been ever brave enough to do: Tell the end of James Bond.
Warning: Spoilers for No Time to Die ahead.
No Time to Die’s ending, explained
At the end of No Time to Die, the villainous Safin (Rami Malek) suffers defeat when his plan to unleash a sophisticated bio-weapon — one that doesn’t activate unless you spread it to those whose DNA has been pre-programmed — is foiled by James Bond.
But Safin gets the last laugh when he infects Bond with a version of the virus programmed to target the DNA of his beloved Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), who returns from 2015’s SPECTRE, to succumb to the virus. In effect, Safin forces Bond to forever stay away from the woman he loves — and the daughter he’ll never know.
(Side note: That’s right. One of the biggest bombshells in No Time to Die is revealing an offspring of James Bond: Mathilde, a five-year-old girl played by child actress Lisa-Dorah Sonnet. For the first time in Bond history, James Bond is a daddy.)
With Bond a carrier of the virus, the agent willingly stays behind on Safin’s island as it’s bombed by the British military. The movie makes it as unambiguous as possible: James Bond dies.
There are no ceremonies, no parades, no country in mourning. The world spins as a closed circle of MI6 toast to Bond over a sip of scotch before going back to work. It’s a fitting tribute to a man who always showed up to take on whatever’s next.
As for Madeline and Mathilde, they’re away on a peaceful getaway, when Madeline begins to tell the story about a man named Bond, James Bond.
Why is James Bond a father in No Time to Die?
Rumors that Bond has a daughter have swirled since 2020, when a leaked call sheet from the set of No Time to Die appeared on eBay and spoiled the film’s plot. At the time, an inside source told Daily Mail that the leak was true.
“Daniel [Craig] wanted to make this Bond film the most surprising and entertaining yet,” the source told Daily Mail in 2020. “Daniel is older and his Bond is maturing and looking at life through the prism of fatherhood. But there’s a lot more to it than that.”
With Craig hoping to close out his epic run as Bond, it’s clear the actor wanted to do something different than tell yet another story about a slick secret agent saving the world. Making cinema’s most notorious philanderer into a caring father is one way of daring to challenge 50-plus years of canon.
Is No Time to Die the end of James Bond?
For now. Daniel Craig has publicly expressed a desire to hang up his tuxedo since 2015’s SPECTRE. When asked by Time Out if he’d want to do another movie, Craig responded that he’d “rather break this glass and slash my wrists” before adding: “I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.”
In 2017, Craig expressed regret at his wording, telling Stephen Colbert: "I went straight into an interview and someone said, 'Would you do another one?' And I went, 'No.' And instead of saying something with style and grace, I gave a really stupid answer.”
In 2021, Craig told Total Film (via GamesRadar) that it took some time and a conversation with the franchise’s producers to convince him to tell one last story, one that wraps up threads that started with Craig’s first appearance in Casino Royale.
“We started talking about it and I went, ‘There might be a story we need to finish here,” he says, “Something to do with Vesper, and Spectre, and something that was connected, in a way.’ It started to formulate. And I thought, ‘Here we go.’”
But that doesn’t mean No Time to Die will lead to a sixth movie with Daniel Craig. As Craig said, No Time to Die is designed to conclude his Bond’s story, and with the way the movie ends, there’s no other way. James Bond has left the building.
In an interview with Deadline, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli says that casting for the next James Bond will begin “next year” after the smoke has fully cleared with No Time to Die.
“We want Daniel to have his time of celebration,” Broccoli said. “Next year we’ll start thinking about the future.”
Luckily, the new year is just around the corner. 2022 will surely give us a glimpse at the future of Bond.
No Time to Die is now playing in theaters.