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‘No Time to Die’ Ending Explained: Daniel Craig’s Grand Finale

Major spoilers ahead

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for “No Time to Die.”

Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond comes to an end in “No Time to Die,” the newest Bond film that makes some of the most ambitious moves of the entire franchise. Indeed, “No Time to Die” is a groundbreaking Bond film in a lot of ways, but it also brings the arc of Craig’s character to a close in satisfying, conclusive fashion — unlike most of his predecessors.

So let’s get into it – the “No Time to Die” ending, those plot twists, Easter eggs you may have missed, and how it brings the story of Daniel Craig’s James Bond to a definitive end.

The Villain’s Evil Plan

MGM/EON

The plot of “No Time to Die” is complicated to say the least, but the film picks up where we left off with “Spectre” as Bond and Dr. Madeline Swan (Lea Seydoux) are trying to live a peaceful life of retirement. But when Bond is attacked by Spectre, he suspects Swan has double-crossed him and pushes her out of his life for good. Or so he thinks.

The film’s opening scene explains how Swan is connected to Rami Malek’s villain Lyutsifer Safin – he’s the man who came to Madeline’s house when she was a child, looking for Madeline’s father Mr. White. But when he only found Madeline and her mother, he killed Madeline’s mother and spared the child’s life.

This comes full circle as the film flashes forward five years after Bond and Swan broke up, and Safin is now a bioterrorist in possession of a biological weapon that, when released, can target specific individuals’ DNA. It’s used in “No Time to Die” to kill every member of Spectre while leaving innocent bystanders in the room unharmed. But as we barrel towards the movie’s conclusion at Safin’s island lair – where he’s holding Madeline and her young daughter Mathilde (surprise!) hostage – Safrin reveals his intention to unleash the weapon on the world at large, plunging it into chaos.

A Ticking Clock

no time to die m ralph fiennes
MGM

Bond descends upon Safin’s lair and manages to get Madeline and Mathilde out safely (with help from Lashana Lynch’s Nomi aka the new 007), but he stays behind to ensure that missiles that M (Ralph Fiennes) fires from nearby ships will destroy the lair for good. In order for the missiles to wipe out every trace of the bioweapon before it’s unleashed, Bond has to open the blast doors from a control room.

With Q’s (Ben Whishaw) help, Bond manages to get the doors open, only for Safin to close them again. The clock is ticking as the missiles have already been launched, and Bond and Safin get into a fist fight during which Safin breaks a vile of the bioweapon on Bond’s head. Safin reveals that this is a version of the bioweapon tied directly to Madeline’s DNA, which means that if Bond comes into contact with Madeline or Mathilde, he’ll kill them instantly.

Bond shoots Safin, and now resigned to his fate makes his way back to the control room to open the blast doors again. He confirms with Q that once exposed to the bioweapon, it cannot be cleaned off – it’s “eternal” in Q’s own words. He cannot leave this island alive.

Q patches Bond in to speak with Madeline one last time, who immediately understands there’s no coming back. The two share a tearful goodbye, and we watch as Daniel Craig’s Bond stares out at the ocean while missiles rain down on him.

Does James Bond Really Die?

no time to die
MGM

Yes indeed, “No Time to Die” marks a first for the franchise in that it literally kills off James Bond. Craig’s character makes the ultimate sacrifice, and the scenes that follow – a eulogy and a final goodbye from Madeline and Mathilde – make clear that James Bond is dead. It’s an ambitious move, but one that the film makes skillfully.

Since “Casino Royale,” Craig’s Bond has been a different breed from his predecessors. A more empathetic, more thoughtful, more vulnerable iteration of the character. To that end, a selfless sacrifice makes perfect sense as an ending. We’ve watched Craig’s Bond try to peacefully retire multiple times now, only to always get pulled back into another scheme. Always looking for a happy ending, never finding it. This time he didn’t get near enough time to spend with his family, but his sacrifice ensures they’ll have – in his words – all the time in the world.

Is Mathilde Really James Bond’s Daughter?

Another major twist in “No Time to Die” involves the revelation that James Bond may or may not have a daughter. When Mathilde is first revealed in the third act, Madeline insists she’s not James’ daughter. But Bond is smarter than that, and immediately points out her blue eyes.

The film doesn’t try to hide the true nature of Bond’s relationship to Mathilde, and Madeline confirms once and for all that he’s the father during their final phone call together, just moments before Bond dies. So yes, while it’s slightly ambiguous throughout, Mathilde is James Bond’s daughter.

How “No Time to Die” Connects to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

EON

The deeply romantic and tragic nature of “No Time to Die,” while effective, is not entirely new to the franchise. 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” found Bond falling in love with a woman named Tracy (Diana Rigg) and going so far as to get married to her, only for Blofeld to return at the very end of the film and kill her. George Lazenby’s Bond is devastated, and while cradling her lifeless body he says to a police officer, “There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.”

In “No Time to Die,” Bond tells Madeline that she and Mathilde have “all the time in the world” during their final phone call, and the Louis Armstrong song “All the Time in the World” plays over the end credits of the film. “No Time to Die” even foreshadows a tragic ending as composer John Barry’s theme “We Have All the Time in the World” from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is a recurring motif throughout Hans Zimmer’s score for “No Time to Die.”

Is There a Post-Credits Scene?

Given that this is Daniel Craig’s final Bond movie, some may be wondering if “No Time to Die” has a post-credits scene. As with all Bond movies before it, the answer is no. However, the film concludes with the classic “James Bond will return” at the very end of the credits, promising that despite Craig’s departure the franchise is far from over.

The Future of the James Bond Franchise

MGM

While “No Time to Die” literally killed James Bond, the franchise will continue. Producer Barbara Broccoli recently said that the search for a new leading actor will begin in 2022, and directors have already begun throwing their hats in the ring for a chance to reboot the series. Before he directed “No Time to Die,” Cary Fukunaga approached the Bond producers with an idea for how to reboot the series, and recently said he’d be interested in directing another Bond movie after this one.


There’s also “Dune” and “Sicario” filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who admitted it’s still a dream of his to direct a Bond movie. And we can’t rule out Christopher Nolan, who has long expressed his fandom for this franchise.

For now, it’s Daniel Craig’s time in the sunset as fans celebrate his wildly impressive run. But after that, it’s on to the next.