'No Time To Die' Easter eggs: The best James Bond references you might have missed (spoilers)

·7-min read
M (Ralph Fiennes) and James Bond (Daniel Craig) in 'No Time to Die'. (Credit: Eon/Instagram)
M (Ralph Fiennes) and James Bond (Daniel Craig) in 'No Time to Die'. (Credit: Eon/Instagram)

Taking Spectre’s lead, the new James Bond film No Time To Die is loaded with references to the previous Daniel Craig outings, but it also recalls various old-testament Bond films.

Some of the references are fairly easy to pick up, (like the gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 that’s deployed and blown up one last time) but there are others we’ve noticed upon revisiting the film for a second or third viewing.

Aside from wrapping up the Craig era, there are a lot of callbacks and references to the previous 20 Bond films too, with one standout in particular. Now that we’ve all had time to see No Time To Die, let’s take a look at some of the bigger moments.

Read more: What the future holds for the 007 franchise

This feature contains major spoilers for No Time To Die, and several earlier James Bond films.

Grave danger

No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)
No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)

Oh, SPECTRE – how we’ve missed your elaborate yet escapable death traps. In the pre-title sequence, Bond goes looking for closure at Vesper Lynd’s tomb in Matera, only to find an octopus-engraved card at the grave and almost get blown up for his troubles.

The callbacks to Casino Royale are to be expected by now, but curiously, Craig’s fifth film also mirrors Roger Moore’s fifth outing For Your Eyes Only, which starts with a deliberately vague callback to Blofeld and SPECTRE as Bond visits his late wife Tracy’s grave. 

English actor Roger Moore poses as 007, with a Lotus Esprit Turbo, on the set of the James Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only', February 1981. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)
In 1981's For You Eyes Only Roger Moore's 007 visits the grave of his late wife Tracey (Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)

In 1981, the rights to those characters were up in the air, and then so was the unnamed bald villain with a cat, as he’s unceremoniously dropped into a smokestack from a helicopter.

Dr Noh?

No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)
No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)

Pre-release, a lot of Bond fans speculated that Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) would turn out to be a villain from movies past. Specifically, the very first Bond villain – Dr Julius No.

Read more: The road to No Time To Die

After more than 16 months of delays, you can see how they’d jump to that conclusion – Spectre disguised Blofeld as “Franz Oberhauser” and the trailers didn’t reveal much about Safin other than the Japanese Noh mask he wears in the opening sequence and the island base where the finale takes place.

Scottish actor Sean Connery and Swiss actress Ursula Andress on the set of Dr. No, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, and directed by Terence Young. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Scottish actor Sean Connery and Swiss actress Ursula Andress on the set of Dr. No, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, and directed by Terence Young. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

It’s not just seeing a pattern where there isn’t one, especially when that pattern is Maurice Binder’s animated dots, which main titles designer Daniel Kleinman homages at the start of the film. 

While Bond’s sabbatical in Jamaica also recalls the island setting of the original Bond mission, we’re marking this particular theory down as a “no No”.

The Timothy Dalton movies

James Bond uncovers an old friend in No Time To Die. (@007/Instagram)
Daniel Craig's James Bond has the Living Daylights' Aston Martin V8 Vantage in storage (@007/Instagram)

In the years since their release, many have reappraised Timothy Dalton’s tenure as the precursor to Craig’s Fleming-flavoured portrayal of Bond. Accordingly, there are other moments reminiscent of the Dalton era in his other films, but Craig’s swansong picks up a couple of major threads.

Read more: Looking back at Spectre

Firstly, there’s the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante that Bond takes out of storage upon his return to London. It’s the same colour and even the same licence plate as the model Dalton’s Bond drives (and blows up) in The Living Daylights, though as far as we can see, it doesn’t have the same laser and rocket-launcher mod-cons.

Welsh actor Timothy Dalton with his co-star Maryam D'Abo during production of the James Bond film 'The Living Daylights' on location in Austria on October 5, 1986.  (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
Timothy Dalton and co-star Maryam D'Abo with the soft top Aston Martin V8 used in 1987's The Living Daylights (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

There’s also a sub-plot in which Bond seeks revenge for his “brother from Langley”, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who meets his end when he’s betrayed by CIA turncoat Logan Ash (Billy Magnusson), just as DEA agent Killifer sells out Felix in Licence To Kill

Aside from avenging a violent attack on Leiter, Bond also encounters Paloma, (the brilliant Ana de Armas) whose ties to Felix, kick-ass competence, and handy thigh-holster reminds us of Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) from Dalton’s second outing.

However, when Bond catches up with Ash, it’s For Your Eyes Only which springs to mind again. Moore famously rankled at a scene where Bond finishes off an adversary by callously kicking a precariously balanced vehicle, but it sits well with Craig when he drops Ash’s Range Rover on him.

M people

Actors Roger Moore, Desmond Llewelyn, Geoffrey Keen and Robert Brown on the set of
Robert Brown (far right) played Bond's boss M in four 007 films. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Ralph Fiennes’ Mallory has a stressful time of it in this one. He’s developed a drinking habit and a bit of a paunch since we last saw him, mostly because he’s upset that Heracles, the top-secret designer virus he approved, has been stolen by the baddies.

During one moment of contemplation, Fiennes’ M sits under the gaze of his predecessors’ portraits, most prominently that of Judi Dench, (whose character also made a posthumous appearance in Spectre) but also Bernard Lee and Robert Brown, who held the job through the Connery, Moore, and Dalton eras.

Lee’s portrait also appeared in The World Is Not Enough, at an MI6 retreat in Scotland, but this is the first we’ve seen of Dench and Brown in the gallery of M’s. Whatever the next incarnation of Bond looks like, it will be interesting to see if Fiennes will reprise his role or similarly be commemorated, given how very, very sacked he should be after the events of this story…

All the time in the world

No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)
No Time To Die saw James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) enjoying their honeymoon period after Spectre in Italy. (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)

Of course, the major influence in this particular story is 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, another recently reappraised outing. George Lazenby’s sole outing as Bond is remixed extensively throughout No Time To Die, starting with references to its score and theme song and ending with a reversal of its tragic finale.

Read more: The best gifts for James Bond fans

There’s also a thread of bio-warfare to the villain’s scheme in OHMSS, which has Blofeld plotting to distribute bacteria via sleeper agents. In No Time To Die, Heracles takes out the extra step with its contagion – as Bond observes, infecting enough people turn the world’s population into a weapon.

British actress Diana Rigg and Australian actor George Lazenby on the set of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, directed by British Peter R. Hunt. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Diana Rigg and George Lazenby starred together in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the 1969 James Bond referenced many times in No Time To Die. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Naturally, it’s the callback to “We have all the time in the world”, both as a line of dialogue and in the choice of Louis Armstrong’s original recording over the end credits, that stands out. The early references seem to foreshadow Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) going the same way as Tracy, but they’re actually teeing up Bond’s demise.

The fate of Daniel Craig’s Bond under a sky fall of Royal Navy missiles is totally clear-cut, but the future of 007 on screen is left open by the final callback, which features at the end of all 25 films to date – “James Bond Will Return”…

No Time To Die is in cinemas now.

Watch the producers of No Time To Die explain how they chose the film's title.

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