Daniel Craig’s Bond story is coming to an end with No Time To Die. What still needs to happen to complete his arc and tie off every lingering loose end? Beginning in 2006 with Casino Royale, Daniel Craig helped usher in a brand new era for the James Bond franchise; a more modern, intense, visceral ilk of spy story with less of the frills and japes seen in previous films. Although the series stuttered with Quantum of Solace two years later, Daniel Craig’s time as Bond hit a peak with Skyfall in 2012 before seemingly coming to an end with Spectre in 2015. A fifth Daniel Craig James Bond entry looked unlikely due to comments made by the actor himself but, after a false start under the direction of Danny Boyle, No Time To Die was officially confirmed and explicitly stated to be Craig’s final jaunt in the iconic role.
Aside from the stylistic differences and distinctly modern sheen, Daniel Craig’s Bond left a legacy of continuity that other versions of the character hadn’t previously seen. More so than ever before, Casino Royale acted as the opening chapter of a multi-part story that has formed the backbone of new-era Bond, with each film bleeding into the next and sometimes even retroactively adding new information to past movies.
While this form of storytelling is perhaps more in line with what contemporary audiences expect from their cinema, it also requires a level of planning and foresight that, arguably, hasn’t always been present. For example, many fans believe that Spectre already wrapped up Daniel Craig’s arc as James Bond in a neat, black bow tie, since the 2015 effort revealed a “final villain,” allowed Bond to defeat the architect of his suffering and then gave 007 a relatively happy ending. No Time To Die’s main challenge is to elongate the current James Bond arc in a way that doesn’t feel tacked on. Fortunately, there’s still plenty Daniel Craig’s Bond still has to do before he bows out for good.
Spectre made the ambitious and controversial move of revealing all Daniel Craig’s past adversaries had been in some way connected to the eponymous criminal organization, orchestrated entirely by Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld. This means that when the villain is apprehended in the final act and Bond stands as victor, 007 is putting to rest 4 films worth of baggage in one fell swoop and viewers are left to assume that the arrest of Blofeld subsequently means the dissolution of SPECTRE. This worked perfectly well as an ending to Craig’s tenure, but No Time To Die is adding another layer to the mystery, throwing more question marks over Blofeld, SPECTRE and their connection to James.
The No Time To Die trailer revealed that Madeleine Swann has been keeping a secret from Bond, and Blofeld knows exactly what skeletons she’s hiding. Furthermore, Bond is glimpsed asking his former enemy for help, presumably in order to stop Rami Malek’s brand new villain. These details raise further questions that need to be addressed before Daniel Craig hangs up his gun. Does Swann have deeper ties to SPECTRE than she originally let on? Is Blofeld really imprisoned by the British government, or is he exactly where he wants to be?
Spectre already revealed the motivation behind Blofeld’s vendetta and the character’s influence over past villains. While it would be ridiculous for No Time To Die to backtrack on that and reveal Malek’s baddie as the actual big boss of the series, it is feasible that there are further layers to Blofeld’s plan that have yet to be revealed. For example, perhaps the Nine Eyes surveillance program was just one part of a grander scheme, or maybe getting caught at the end of Spectre was a ruse in order to ensure Bond suffers more deeply further down the line. As Blofeld himself ominously retorts, “that’s brothers for you…they always know what buttons to press” – could allowing himself to be imprisoned and letting Bond live a happy life with Madeleine for a little while be one of those very buttons?
As with Blofeld and the shadowy presence of SPECTRE, the Vesper Lynd storyline has echoed throughout Daniel Craig’s series of James Bond films. The couple first meet in Casino Royale and fall madly in love, only for Bond to find that Lynd is a double agent shortly before her death. Seeking revenge for Lynd and uncovering the reasons behind her betrayal have been key themes over the past 3 Bond movies and even as late as Spectre, it was clear that the spy still harbored feelings for his deceased lover. Once again, moving on with Madeleine Swann in Spectre’s closing scene appeared to put this storyline to bed, but No Time To Die has thrown a spanner in the works.
Firstly, are Bond’s suspicions about Madeleine justifiable, or merely a hangover from being let down by Vesper previously? Bond might’ve “moved on” in terms of settling down with a new woman, but the shadow of his love for Lynd remains evident in Craig’s character and Spectre’s “driving off into the sunset” final scene perhaps isn’t enough to definitively say that 007 is over being lied to by Lynd and then having to watch her die. No Time To Die has the opportunity to show James Bond trusting again, perhaps by learning that his suspicions over Madeleine aren’t entirely what they seem. Alternatively, it’s possible that, assuming Madeleine has been guilty of some sort of betrayal, Bond forgiving her symbolically lays to rest the ghost of Vesper Lynd. In either case, the current Bond’s arc won’t be complete until the spy stops driving down country lanes at high speed accusing his partner of selling him out.
Since it’s likely too late for Craig’s Bond to find a third major love interest, No Time To Die’s choice will likely be between Bond overcoming his fears and placing his trust in Madeleine, or finding out everything about Swann was a lie and resigning himself to the fact the Vesper was his true one-and-only. There is, of course, a third option that would mean Bond doesn’t need to get over anything…
Isn’t the death of James Bond exactly what Daniel Craig’s long-term story arc has been building towards? The modern Bond movies broke new ground for the franchise in the sense that every installment was interconnected, and with this new approach comes an expectation for a grand finale for the character. It’s no longer enough for Bond just to live to fight another day, and end with him in the arms of some nameless beauty, ready for the next adventure to begin in a few years. Daniel Craig’s Bond has already retired on several occasions, only to be dragged back into the fray and No Time To Die begins with the spy officially done with MI6. Would it be a satisfying enough conclusion to a five-film arc if Bond was to simply give retirement another crack at the end of Craig’s final film?
After repeatedly finding himself back in the midst of the action, a central message of Craig’s Bond films has surely been that the character can’t give up his day job. Bond is so intrinsically wrapped up in serving Queen and country that there is no “quiet life” waiting for him at the end. Usually, there’s only one outcome for characters too old to fight and too stubborn to retire, and that’s an epic death doing the thing they love. This theory has been compounded by reports that Lashana Lynch is portraying Bond’s 007 replacement in No Time To Die, setting up a potential on-screen successor to Craig’s lead character.
Previously, Bond films had little continuity, even between the separate actors. New incarnations of the spy would simply appear more or less fully formed from the outset. This has caused debate among fans as to whether the James Bond films exist within a single continuity, telling the story of the same character throughout, whether “James Bond” is a code name passed down from one spy to the next, or whether each version of Bond exists within its own timeline. There is evidence to support and contradict each view and the death of a James Bond would certainly put Blofeld’s cat among the pigeons, but after Casino Royale skidded onto the scene in a way Bond fans had never seen before, it’s only fitting that Daniel Craig goes out in similarly earth-shattering fashion in No Time To Die.
Read more: screenrant.com