Hollywood's most famous spy, James Bond, returned to the big screen in 2021 with No Time to Die. The film, the fifth and final outing for Daniel Craig as 007, was also the 25th entry into the iconic franchise.
This action-packed blockbuster was one movie fans waited for an awfully long to see so without further ado, here’s everything that you need to know about No Time to Die.
What is the plot of ‘No Time to Die’?
The last time we saw James Bond in Spectre, he was driving away from MI6 and the espionage world with Madeleine Swann at his side. As we saw in trailers and other promotional material, at the start of No Time to Die Bond was still enjoying his life in retirement, but you seemingly can’t keep a good spy down.
CIA operative Felix Leiter tracks Bond down and asks for his help to rescue a kidnapped scientist. However, Bond soon finds he’s in deeper than he thought as the trail leads to a mysterious villain, Safin who, unbeknownst to Bond, has ties to Madeleine. This all leads Bond back to MI6 and sees him working with the operative who replaced him as 007.
As has been the case for all of Daniel Craig’s James Bond films—save for Casino Royale—this is an entirely original story and not based on a work from Bond creator Ian Fleming. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Cary Joji Fukunaga wrote the screenplay.
Daniel Craig on the twist ending of 'No Time to Die'
*This section of our guide contains major spoilers for the ending of No Time to Die*
In a special final installment of No Time To Die: The Official James Bond Podcast, host James King held discussions all about the making of the film with a range of people who worked on No Time to Die, including delving into the shocking ending with Daniel Craig.
In an unprecedented move (that just so happens to set the stage for a new actor to take the reins from Craig), No Time to Die actually killed off James Bond. He'd ordered a missile strike from HMS Dragon to destroy Safin's nanobot factory but was forced to remain behind on the island to ensure the blast doors would stay open so the ship's missiles could strike true.
Talking about the ending, Craig said: "There were lots of different ideas that came and went and some it stuck. The through-line of this is family [and] love, plus the fact we had an end so it was about hanging the film off that."
He went on to call the film a "massive collaborative effort", adding "that was the headline really, just make it better. So we all input into it in varying ways. I tend not to shut up or keep my mouth shut about things and the only reason I want to get involved is because I just want it to be the best it can be.
In the final moments of the film, M, Moneypenny, Nomi, Q, and Bill Tanner stood around to toast Bond's sacrifice, symbolically also offering Craig the send-off he wholeheartedly deserves for his time as 007.
Who made up the ‘No Time to Die’ cast?
Leading the way since 2006, Daniel Craig plays the suave super-spy, James Bond. With No Time to Die being his fifth appearance in the franchise, Craig still trails Sean Connery and Roger Moore in the number of Bond roles— Connery appeared in six (seven if you account the non-canon Never Say Never Again), and Moore starred in seven. Craig has solidified himself as one of the best Bonds ever and truly went out on a high note with No Time to Die.
The rest of the No Time to Die cast includes the following:
- Rami Malek - Safin
- Léa Seydoux - Madeleine Swann
- Ralph Fiennes - M
- Naomie Harris - Eve Moneypenny
- Ben Whishaw - Q
- Jeffrey Wright - Felix Leiter
- Lashana Lynch - Nomi (new 007)
- Ana de Armas - Paloma
- Billy Magnussen - Logan Ash
- Christoph Waltz - Ernst Stavro Blofeld
- Rory Kinnear - Tanner
Who directed ‘No Time to Die’?
After Sam Mendes directed the last two Daniel Craig Bond films (Skyfall and Spectre), the franchise is got some fresh blood with Cary Joji Fukunaga at the helm, the first American to ever occupy the director’s chair for a James Bond movie.
Fukunaga is best known for directing all eight episodes of True Detective’s first season, but his credits also include Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre, Beasts of No Nation, and the Netflix series Maniac.
When was ‘No Time to Die’ released?
Originally, No Time to Die was set for an April 2020 release date. Around the time that the pandemic was officially declared, No Time to Die was one of the first major movies to announce that it would be pushing back its release. While first hoping for a fall 2020 premiere, the decision was ultimately made to push No Time to Die into 2021.
After a couple more changes, No Time to Die's final release date was set for Sept. 30 in the UK and Oct. 8 in the US, essentially a year-and-a-half later than the original intended release.
While the Bond franchise is one of the biggest in the world, it actually hasn’t occupied a traditional summer blockbuster spot most tentpoles aim for in a long time.
You’d have to go back to Licence to Kill in 1989 for a James Bond film to have been released during the summer. Since then, Bond has found a home mostly in November, so the fall release date is par for the course.
Ahead of the No Time to Die release, fans were treated to a new documentary, Being James Bond, that looked back at Daniel Craig's tenure as the character, as well as including never-before-seen archival footage from his films, including No Time to Die.
Is there a ‘No Time to Die’ trailer?
There were several trailers released for No Time to Die. As the film was delayed multiple times, there were several trailers released to keep it at the forefront of filmgoers' minds, including a teaser from July proclaiming that Bond was back ahead of its October release (in the U.S.).
Ahead of its debut in the UK and other international markets, we also got a final international trailer. This showcased just a handful of new clips as they tried to keep the big plot points under wraps, but was made abundantly clear that No Time to Die was going all out with big set pieces to close out the Daniel Craig era.
Not to be left out, a final U.S. trailer was also released shortly after the international version.
Are there 'No Time to Die' reviews?
No Time to Die had its world premiere on Sept. 28, and with it came the first reviews of Daniel Craig's long-awaited final performance as James Bond. The general consensus was that the movie was definitely worth the wait.
As of Dec. 10, No Time to Die has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 84% and a Metacritic score of 68.
Variety described the film as the best Bond entry since Casino Royale and the send-off that Craig deserved. The Hollywood Reporter and The Wrap also praised the film, calling it surprisingly devastating and emotional like few Bond films before it.
WhattoWatch's own Todd Gilchrist describes No Time to Die as "probably the best 'last Daniel Craig Bond movie'" we could have gotten but he did notice a few cracks in what is the longest-running Bond movie in franchise history.
How to watch ‘No Time to Die’?
No Time to Die played exclusively in theaters when it was first released on Oct. 8. While there were rumors throughout the pandemic about the likes of Netflix or Apple TV Plus bidding big for the rights to stream the film, no deal was struck. Even after Amazon acquired MGM’s library, which holds many James Bond films, the producers were adamant that No Time to Die would have its debut on the big screen, as would future films in the series.
Now that the film has been released in cinemas, it's started cropping up on premium video-on-demand services like Amazon Prime Video. We've already produced a full guide explaining how to watch No Time to Die, which gives you a run down of all the places you can find the movie. It's also scheduled for a home release on DVD this December.
Who performed the ‘No Time to Die’ theme song?
Almost as big as the actual movie itself are the theme songs that play over the opening credits of each Bond film. Some of the best that the franchise has had include Adele’s Oscar-winning “Skyfall,” Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall,” Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” and others from the likes of Madonna, Duran Duran, Tina Turner and Gladys Knight.
So who joined that impressive roster of musicians to lend their voices to the James Bond franchise? None other than Billie Eilish.
Eilish’s theme song, “No Time to Die,” was actually released in February of 2020, ahead of the film’s original release. You can give it a listen below.
Who will be the next James Bond?
Guessing who the next actor to play James Bond is always a fun pastime, but with Daniel Craig taking his final bow, speculation has been rampant over who may don the tuxedo next.
WhattoWatch has put many of the prospective Bond candidates in a single place for you to read about.
Of course, there has been no announcement as to who will be the next James Bond, or who is even under official consideration at this point. It’s all rumors and wishful thinking. In that spirit, if I could throw my two cents into the conversation, how about The Green Knight star Dev Patel?
Whoever may be the next James Bond, don't expect to hear any news until 2022. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli said "We're not thinking about it at all. We want Daniel to have his time of celebration. Next year we'll start thinking about the future."
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.