Does No Time To Die’s Ending Do Daniel Craig Justice?


Warning: This article contains major spoilers for No Time To Die.

Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond in No Time To Die is in many ways a fitting swansong for the character. After five films in 15 years, the movie is the culmination of a complete story arc the likes of which the saga has never seen before. However, despite the obvious ambition – both throughout Craig’s tenure in the role and in the film itself – there is a fierce debate over whether or not No Time To Die actually does its star justice.

The film picks up from where the previous 007 entry, Spectre, left off – seeing Bond and his love interest Madeleine Swann traveling the Italian countryside together. However, their newfound bliss is soon interrupted as Bond’s old adversaries from the Spectre organization attack. This sets off a chain of events, which brings Bond, Swann, old enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and new villain Lyutsifer Safin on a collision course with ultimately tragic consequences. Over the course of the nearly 3-hour runtime, Bond also reconnects with classic characters like M, Moneypenny and Q, all while butting heads with new 007 agent Nomi (played by Lashana Lynch)

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Unlike many final entries for previous Bond incumbents, No Time To Die delivers a definitive end to the Craig era. Not only does the finale feature genuine stakes in a franchise famous for its suspension of disbelief, but it dares to do something genuinely original with one of the most iconic characters in all of cinema. However, for all its commendable bravery, there are still a few areas where No Time To Die comes unstuck. For this reason, the new film is proving divisive among the series’ longstanding fanbase. Here’s why No Time To Die’s ending both succeeds and fails to do justice to Daniel Craig as James Bond.

No Time To Die Ties Up Craig’s Spectre Story

Unlike other standalone Bond films, No Time To Die seeks to tie up several loose ends from its predecessor in the series, 2015’s Spectre. Several key plot points revolve around the titular criminal organization, including an electric interrogation sequence between stars Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld. The film also features Spectre star Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, continuing her romance with Bond from the previous entry. Not only does No Time To Die offer greater character development for Seydoux’s character, but it puts her in an unprecedented position in James Bond history as the mother of the central character’s first onscreen child. In this way, the film offers a satisfying conclusion for several plot points raised in the Spectre story, even enhancing several character’s original appearances.

However, despite the development of characters like Madeline Swann, No Time To Die also undermines several key aspects of Spectre. For instance, while the organization in the previous film was presented as an almost unbeatable criminal network, with tendrils in virtually every illicit activity around the world, the new movie sees their entire membership eradicated at the push of a button by a hitherto unknown force in the form of Lyutsifer Safin. In fact, Safin’s introduction arguably undermines the entire reintroduction of the Spectre group during the Craig era, as they move from main antagonists to complete irrelevance in the space of two movies. Therefore, while No Time To Die does successfully help Spectre’s characters to grow, it also undercuts one of the central themes of the previous film.

Why No Time To Die Mirrors Casino Royale’s Vesper Story

One of No Time To Die’s defining characteristics is the way in which the film references key moments from throughout the Bond saga to date. Among the most notable of these is how Bond’s relationship with Madeleine Swann echoes his Casino Royale romance with Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green). In both films, Bond seemingly finds himself in a relatively happy relationship, before it all comes crashing down as a result of apparent betrayal. It is significant that the catalyst in No Time To Die is an explosion at Vesper Lynd’s tomb – emphasizing her ongoing influence from beyond the grave.

There are also striking similarities between the characters of Madeleine Swann and Vesper Lynd that hint at a complex cyclical nature to the Craig era. For instance, the two women both betray Bond while simultaneously protecting him – Lynd by exchanging Le Chiffre’s money for Bond’s life and Swann by agreeing to Safin’s plan to murder Blofeld instead of risking the repercussions. Ultimately, Bond’s continued love for Swann despite her actions highlights how far the character has come since Casino Royale.

It’s clear from the opening of No Time To Die that Vesper’s betrayal has had a lasting impact on Bond’s character. Although Swann is ultimately innocent, he still finds it impossible to forgive her, despite her protestations. This harkens back to a conversation between Judi Dench’s M and Bond during Casino Royale’s heart-breaking climax in which M explicitly states that Bond “doesn’t trust anyone” and how this is an invaluable lesson to learn. The fact that this trait is still evident in No Time To Die not only represents a satisfying throughline from the start to the end of the Craig era, but also underlines what a crucial character Vesper Lynd actually is to the overall narrative.

How No Time To Die’s Ending Fits Daniel Craig’s Arc

Unlike other Bond eras, Daniel Craig’s take on the character has always been presented as a self-contained narrative arc. Ever since Quantum of Solace took the radial and controversial decision to treat Casino Royale as a direct prequel rather than its own character origin story, Craig’s films have both functioned as separate entities and crucial components in a wider saga. Ultimately, this has been both a help and a hindrance in establishing Craig’s take on the character as a successful portrayal. However, given this approach, the shocking No Time To Die climax does make perfect sense.

At the film’s conclusion, Bond attempts to disable the shields around Safin’s base so that naval missiles can destroy both it and the dangerous weapons it produces. However, despite initially seeming to be successful, the shields are closed again before he can get free, forcing him to sacrifice himself to save the world. His death is a significant moment in Bond history, as it is the first time that the character has ever been killed off on-screen – raising serious questions about the Bond franchise’s future. However, the interconnected nature of all five films in the Craig era means that the character’s death ultimately makes sense.

From purely a continuity perspective, it would be incredibly inconsistent for another actor to carry on the same saga after Craig’s departure. While other movies, which have not had to consider a wider overarching story to the same degree, have been able to replace Bond with little or no explanation, the clear thread that runs throughout Craig’s films requires specific consideration. As a result, killing the character not only provides a satisfying conclusion but also connects to this Bond chapter’s ongoing themes of loss, grief, and death.

What No Time To Die Says About Daniel Craig’s Whole Arc

Although No Time To Die is an undeniably bold entry into the Bond canon, it does provide key answers about the entirety of Daniel Craig’s narrative arc in the role. The film is littered with references to previous entries in the franchise, from a portrait of Judi Dench’s M to the reappearance of Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter. However, it also highlights how Daniel Craig’s whole arc is both distinct from and yet closely connected to the previous 60 years of Bond lore.

For instance, one of Craig’s hallmarks has been a grittier, more realistic tone, largely devoid of the tongue-in-cheek (and occasionally problematic) humor that defined incumbents like Sean Connery and Roger Moore. While No Time To Die does feature a handful of memorable quips and implausible gadgets, the film broadly sticks to the tone established by the rest of the Craig era, making Bond feel more like a real person in the process. Although there are several Easter eggs scattered throughout the runtime, much like in 2012’s Skyfall, these are no more than passing mentions. The movie’s clear antecedents, therefore, are the four previous Craig films rather than the 20 previous Bond movies, making it a much more effective tribute to Craig’s arc.

In this way, No Time to Die clearly defines the Daniel Craig Bond era as its own separate entity. Despite being in many ways markedly different from classic entries in the series, the film both helps cements Craig’s status as the definitive modern Bond and continues the series’ impressive reinvention during his tenure. Bond purists might find fault with the film’s tone and radical plot choices, while some elements of the overall narrative admittedly don’t stand up to scrutiny. However, in the context of his other movies, it’s hard to argue that No Time To Die ultimately doesn’t do Daniel Craig justice.

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About The Author

Thomas Lethbridge (133 Articles Published)

After an eclectic career incorporating scuba diving, cheffing and teaching, Tommy eventually found his calling as a writer. With an early focus on food, he now specialises in all aspects of entertainment. Despite being a Lord of the Rings and Alien obsessive, his real passion is for truly terrible movies. He loves anything with a 0% Rotten Tomatoes rating and rarely passes up an opportunity to watch The Room. Tommy is based in London and joined the Screen Rant team in 2021.

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