With Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, No Time to Die finally in cinemas we’ve enjoyed spotting all the Easter eggs director Cary Joji Fukunaga has included. However, Bond has always been a self-referential franchise with many of its thriller movies giving nods to their predecessors, delighting fans in the process.
One of the earliest examples can be seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when George Lazenby’s Bond famously says “This never happened to the other fella”, after replacing Sean Connery. In Die Another Day Q’s workshop is littered with gadgets seen in previous films including the jetpack from Thunderball, with Pierce Brosnan’s Bond comically asking “Does this still work?” before activating it again. And most recently for Bond’s 50th anniversary, Skyfall paid tribute to five decades of Bond with throwbacks galore, maybe the most exciting of all was its resurrection of Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 for the film’s final act.
No Time to Die features some very obvious references like Bond ordering his trademark drink, the vodka martini shaken, not stirred. As well as putting him behind the wheel of the DB5 again, but how many others did you spot?
In one of the film’s first scenes, we see Bond reassuring Madeleine that they have all the time in the world. This of course is a famous line from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in which Bond’s wife Tracy is tragically assassinated moments after their marriage.
No Time to Die’s composer Hans Zimmer infuses an orchestral arrangement of the Louis Armstrong song “We Have All the Time in the World” from the classic film into his score here on track “Matera”. Later during the end credits Armstrong’s song plays in full. The use of this theme contributes to the heartbreaking and inverted symmetry to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as instead of his partner it’s Bond that passes in the film’s final moments of No Time to Die.
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Elsewhere in the film, during a conversation between Bond and M, Zimmer once again uses music from Lazenby’s only outing as Bond. This time it’s the title theme by John Barry that accompanies their discussion about the evolution of espionage over time.
The opening titles are one of many trademarks associated with the Bond franchise. The majority of the films use a mixture of animated silhouettes and live-action footage to accompany each film’s specific theme song. In more recent years, thanks to Daniel Kleinman who has designed all of the title sequences since Goldeneye, with the exception of Quantum of Solace, they have become far more creative.
In No Time to Die, Kleinman pays tribute to the very first title sequence from Dr. No. In the original Bond film, Maurice Binder and Trevor Bond use the circular shape of the famous gun barrel shot to create an animated sequence of different coloured circles that move to the sound of John Barry’s arrangement of Monty Norman’s James Bond theme. In No Time to Die, just as Billie Eilish’s title theme begins, this same graphic of the circles is used to transition into this sequence, a subtle yet very definite nod to the original title sequence.
Fast forward five years and Bond has taken himself to Jamaica where he’s now leading a quiet life. This is a further throwback to Dr No which is predominantly set in this location. In addition to this, author Ian Fleming wrote all of his Bond novels here in his residence affectionately named Goldeneye.
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It feels particularly fitting then that this is where Bond would reside after hanging up his holster. With so much of the film already paying homage to Dr No it seemed completely plausible that Rami Malek’s villain, Safin, would ultimately turn out to be him as the rumours and speculations had suggested.
However, this isn’t the case, although the third act continues to bear similarities to the original film. Safin’s island lair has a striking resemblance to Dr No’s Crab Key. However, Safin’s poison garden actually has more in common with the novel You Only Live Twice which sees Blofeld disguising his identity as Shatterhand, the original working title for No Time to Die.
Bond and brands go hand in hand but if there’s one that’s quintessentially 007 it’s Aston Martin. Since Goldfinger Bond and Aston Martin have been a match made in cinematic heaven and No Time to Die features no less than four different models of the iconic car. After his DB5 receives a bit of damage (Q would be quaking) in the pre-title sequence Bond unearths his V8 Vantage, a classic model not seen since Timothy Dalton’s Bond in The Living Daylights.
Whilst there have been some modifications to the actual car used for the filming it still sports the same number plate from The Living Daylights. Dalton’s Bond has often been hailed as the first incarnation of the character to be more brutal and brooding, something that’s been integral to Craig’s time in the role so giving a nod to his Bond feels especially classy.
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Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed another easter egg in the scene where Bond retrieves his Aston Martin. Blink and you’ll miss it but the ceramic bulldog from Skyfall that Judi Dench’s M left to Bond can also be seen in the garage. That’s not the only nod to her M though as No Time to Die remembers her and one other previous incarnation of the character in a further way.
You may have spotted a large portrait of Judi Dench’s M hung on the walls at MI6. She played the character in seven films from her first appearance in Goldeneye to her last in Skyfall. A similar portrait of Robert Brown’s M can also be seen lining the same corridor. He played the character, succeeding Bernard Lee, in four films, from Octopussy to Licence to Kill. However, Brown had already appeared in a Bond film before this as he also portrayed Admiral Hardgreaves in The Spy Who Loved Me.
After being reunited with M and having a somewhat heated conversation Bond abruptly leaves his office, but not before smoothly disposing of his visitor badge by effortlessly throwing it into a bin beside Moneypenny’s desk. Acts of bravado like this were commonplace for much of the pre-Craig Bond era.
Whether it would be throwing his coat perfectly onto a hook or landing his hat on a stand, Bond would rarely miss an opportunity to demonstrate some kind of swagger with the aim of impressing Moneypenny, but Craig was yet to have this chance. This small moment allows him that and manages to be a literal throwback to all of his predecessors.
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No Time to Die’s influences from past Bond movies can maybe be seen most clearly in its action moments. In the pre-title sequence Bond strangles an enemy with a washing line not in a dissimilar fashion to the way in which Red Grant uses his garrote wire concealed in his watch to strangle his targets in From Russia With Love.
In addition to this, in the forest sequence in Norway Bond uses a car tow rope strung between two trees to remove a driver from a motorcycle, a method he also used with a deployed parachute to separate a driver from their snowmobile in Die Another Day. One of the film’s final action sequences sees Bond firing a shot into a tunnel much like the classic gun barrel sequence that opens all the films.
After this he has to make his way up a stairwell to a control room, defeating a string of enemies on the way. This harkens back to Craig’s brutal stairwell fight in Casino Royale but instead of going down, he goes up, ultimately meeting his final fate.