The trailers for 25th James Bond movie No Time To Die suggest a shocking twist in store for Daniel Craig’s 007. This is the movie that resolves Daniel Craig’s tenure as Britain’s greatest secret agent, with director Cary Fukunaga and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge promising to put plenty of emotional twists on the Bond formula.
Said plot development relates to Bond’s partner Dr. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), the person who compelled him to leave the secret service and enjoy the quiet life. However, Madeleine’s shocking connection to fiendish villain Safin (Rami Malek) leaves her relationship with 007 in tatters, forcing the superspy out of retirement to save the world once again.
However, this is not the first time Bond has been subject to an unexpected turn of events. Indeed, in 007’s world, no-one is quite who they seem. Here’s our pick of the biggest twists from the Bond franchise.
*** Pay Attention, 007: Spoilers Ahead! ***
1. "All The Time In The World" (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969)
This was, perhaps, the first big twist in Bond movie history, where 007 does not end up cruising off into the sunset with the girl. A sombre ending sees a newly married James (George Lazenby) and his wife Tracy (Diana Rigg) driving toward their new life, only to be attacked by Blofeld (Telly Savalas) and his sidekick Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat).
James is unscathed by the gunfire, but he is unable to save Theresa, who is killed by one of the bullets. Following a tender rendition of Louis Armstrong/John Barry love theme 'We Have All The Time In The World', the end credits start to roll. It stands apart in the history of the series as a rare moment of jeopardy for the world's most famous secret agent, and one of the rare moments where his heart is broken, affording victory to the bad guys.
2. "Back from the dead" (GoldenEye, 1995)
An old friendship is shattered in Pierce Brosnan's Bond debut, as 007 learns that former comrade 006/Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) is the leader of crime syndicate Janus.
Following the drama of Trevelyan’s supposed death in the pre-credit sequence, it's a surprising turn of events and creates a villain that is not only equal to our hero in terms of training, but also knows what makes him tick having been by his side on so many missions. Of course, Bond finds a way to best him eventually, via a dramatic fistfight on top of a satellite dish. The final line delivered by Bond to his old friend is a killer.
3. "I could have given you the world…" (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) presents herself as a wealthy heiress and kidnapping victim, whose oil tycoon father refused to pay her ransom. In a shocking scene, it’s revealed that she bewitched terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle) in order to gain revenge for what she viewed as her father’s indifference, and the interference of family friend M (Judi Dench).
All this is revealed while Elektra tortures Bond (Pierce Brosnan) using a uniquely configured chair, although he ultimately escapes and shoots her dead in cold blood, in one of the most chillingly effective Bond moments.
4. "At last... I was beginning to think you would never guess" (Die Another Day, 2002)
A lot of high-concept ideas were brought to the first Bond movie of the new Millennium, not least the identity of the villain, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). The film reveals that he is in fact the evil Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee), a thought-to-be-deceased North Korean Colonel who altered his appearance to play the part of a wealthy British entrepreneur. Implausibly (well, this is a Bond movie), all this occurred during the 14 months that 007 (Pierce Brosnan) was held captive and tortured in a South Korean jail cell.
When Bond eventually works out the ruse, Graves reveals he even modeled his new identity on his perception of the secret agent: “that unjustifiable swagger, the crass quips, the self-defence mechanism concealing such inadequacy”. That’s one guy who knows how to hold a grudge.
5. "Allow me" (Casino Royale, 2006)
Daniel Craig’s sensational 007 debut reinvents the character as a grounded and gritty force of nature, who makes the very human mistake of falling in love. Having fallen for treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and left active service in MI6, Bond discovers that his new lover has betrayed him, stealing the money won at the Casino Royale poker game, and delivering it to the organisation aligned with villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).
It’s later revealed she had no choice, being forced into the deception to save her lover, about whom Bond knew nothing. But in this moment, as the hired goons threaten to kill Vesper, you can hear the torment in Bond’s voice as he murmurs “allow me”. It was one of several moments that announced Craig as a vital and memorable new Bond, whose fallibility and barely contained anger makes him far more relatable.
6. "I did get one thing right" (Skyfall, 2012)
In Bond mythology, certain characters are impervious to death… or so we thought. The moving final moments of the most successful Bond adventure ever, Skyfall, saw Judi Dench's M felled by the diabolical Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), finally completing his deranged vendetta against the head of MI6. Bond (Daniel Craig) cradles his superior, enjoying one last affectionate exchange before she passes away.
The rank of M is ultimately passed to Ralph Fiennes' Gareth Mallory, but there’s no denying Dench’s impact on the Bond legacy. She steered both Brosnan and Craig’s Bond portrayals through turbulent times, emerging as a tough but unexpectedly maternal figure who was more than capable of harnessing and critiquing 007’s abilities. Skyfall’s finale is a powerful scene that shows the nearly 60-year-old franchise can continue to offer moments that surprise fans.
7. "Catchy name" (Spectre, 2015)
Another incarnation of Bond’s greatest foe would emerge in the big shock from the most recent 007 installment. Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) reveals a very personal childhood connection to Daniel Craig’s agent, recalling how jealousy drove him to kill his father, before assuming the identity of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
It’s the moment on which much of Craig’s tenure pivots, given Blofeld claims to be “the author of all [Bond’s] pain”. Essentially, this means that Blofeld and his Spectre organisation orchestrated the actions of all the previous villains faced by Craig’s Bond. This is also set to play an important role in No Time To Die, as the incarcerated Blofeld mocks 007 from his cell about the threat posed by Safin.
James Luxford is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.