'No Time to Die' Ending Explained, All Your James Bond Questions Answered
You can stream Daniel Craig's last 007 adventure and all the others as Amazon Prime Video celebrates the franchise's 60th anniversary, and the latest Bond movie's climax will leave you both shaken and stirred.
Sean KeaneFormer Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
"In Daniel Craig's final outing as the suave superspy, James Bond finally gets a life," Richard Trenholm said in CNET's No Time to Die review, which is out now in the US and Australia. "The result is an epic, explosive and emotional swan song that throws everything it has against the wall for a genuinely unique entry in the series." That's especially true of the bold and unprecedented ending.
Bioterrorist Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) drags Bond's former lover Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) and her daughter Mathilde to his classic villain lair on an old World War II island base between Japan and Russia. Earlier, Madeleine insisted Mathilde wasn't Bond's kid, but those striking blue eyes suggest otherwise.
Madeleine's father, the late Mr. White, killed Safin's family on behalf of terrorist group Spectre when Safin was just a wee lad, so he killed Madeleine's mother to get back at Mr. White. Madeleine got trapped under ice as she tried to escape this attack, but Safin saved her and became obsessed like a big weirdo.
Safin already forced her to take part in his scheme to wipe out Spectre with Heracles, a DNA-based bioweapon containing nanobots that target specific people. Bond unwittingly completes her mission to kill captive Spectre boss Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), as part of Safin's revenge (cue maniacal laughter). But there's more: from his base, Safin intends to launch Heracles globally, infecting millions (laughter intensifies).
Newly reinstated as 007, Bond and fellow 00 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch) infiltrate the island and seemingly succeed in opening the silo doors for a missile strike ordered by M (Ralph Fiennes) to wipe out Safin's base. Nomi escapes with Madeleine and Mathilde, while Bond sticks around to make sure the base is destroyed.
The silo doors start to close, so Bond rushes back to reopen them. Could it be a trap? It definitely is.
Safin gets the drop on 007, shooting Bond several times and infecting him with nanobots coded to Madeleine's DNA -- meaning he can never touch her or Mathilde again without killing them. What a jerk.
Bond numbly executes Safin and re-opens the silo doors, but it's clear he doesn't have time to escape. Severely wounded, he climbs a ladder to the roof and calls Madeleine to tell her he loves her.
"You have all the time in the world," he says.
"She does have your eyes," she responds, confirming that Mathilde is his daughter.
"I know," he says, as the missiles come down on the base. "I know."
With that, Bond is enveloped in the explosions.
Wait, James Bond dies?
Yes, for the first time in the character's 59-year cinematic history (and 68-year literary one), 007 is killed. The movie's title lied to us. It's pretty definitive too; he'd been badly wounded by Safin and the missile strike wiped out the island. But the legendary spy also seemed at peace with his fate.
This comes after Bond became a father for the first time (that we know of) and seemed ready to settle down with Madeleine and Matilde, making it all the more devastating. Pardon me, I have something in my eye.
What happens after his death?
Nomi returns to MI6 headquarters in London and M gathers her, Moneypenny, Tanner and Q (Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw) in an emotional toast to their late colleague during which M reads a quote from author Jack London.
"The proper function of man is to live, not to exist," he says. "I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
This was previously used in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice novel, appearing in Bond's obituary when the world thought he'd died.
The final moments take us to the spectacular Italian mountainside city of Matera, where we met Madeleine and Bond at the start of the movie. This time, she's driving with their daughter.
"Mathilde, I'm going to tell you a story about a man," Madeleine says. "His name was Bond, James Bond."
The title is darkly ironic -- it's taken from Bond's final line after his new wife, Tracy, is fatally shot by Blofeld's goon.
No Time To Die echoes On Her Majesty's Secret Service in that it sees Bond growing as a person and apparently willing to leave spycraft behind to settle down. In both instances, fate intervenes -- and something appears to have gotten in my eye again.
When did they start planning Bond's death?
After the Berlin premiere of Casino Royale in 2006, Craig told Variety in a Dec. 30 interview. The original plan was to kill the character at the end of Craig's fourth movie (Spectre), but longtime series producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson wanted him to do one more.
No Time To Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga was told that Bond would die at the end of the movie when he came on board, but the circumstances of his death hadn't been finalized. Craig noted that Savin's weapon created "an insurmountable problem" for Bond, in that he couldn't go on living without endangering his family.
Where in the world did Bond die?
In the movie, Safin's base is situated on a disputed island in the Sea of Okhotsk, which lies between Japan and Russia.
However, these scenes were shot on Kalsoy, one of Denmark's Faroe Islands. The local government installed a gravestone next to the Kallur lighthouse to mark the character's cinematic death, according to Timeout, with an inscription that reads "In Memory of James Bond, 1962-2021."
If you want to see the place for yourself, there's a "James Bond Sightseeing Tour" for around $414 (plus the cost of actually getting to the island).
Is there a post-credits scene?
No Time To Die doesn't have a post-credits scene, but if you stick around to the end you'll see the classic words "James Bond will return."
The phrase has never been more reassuring, but we don't know yet who'll be taking over from Craig.
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Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson say the search for a new actor is still "early days," Variety reported in September 2022. They need to find someone who'll commit to the role for a decade or more and fits the producers' ideas for reinventing the role.
"Bond is evolving just as men are evolving," Broccoli told the outlet. "I don't know who's evolving at a faster pace."
"No one should be waiting by the phone yet," she said.
The Bond franchise has always been a bit fuzzy in terms of continuity -- newer actors' movies sometimes referred to events from a previous era, so it seemed like Sean Connery, Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were all playing the same person.
However, Craig's first movie, Casino Royale, rebooted the franchise in 2006. So his movies are a self-contained series, and the death of his version of the character closes the loop on that narrative. Goodbye, Mr. Bond.
If Broccoli and Wilson are feeling truly daring, Bond's nephew appeared in 1991 cartoon James Bond Jr. Perhaps it's time to bring young Bond out of obscurity?