SPOILERS ALLUDED TO WITHIN THE FOLLOWING: Last night I watched Daniel Craig‘s last and final James Bond film, knowing full well what the storyline was and particularly what the ending would deliver.

And I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was never bored, and was seriously impressed with Cary Fukanaga‘s pacing, cutting, visual discipline and overall chops. There’s never any doubt that this is a grade-A package made by grade-A people. Plus it’s Craig’s best Bond since Casino Royale, and one of the best overall. And knowing about the ending didn’t fucking matter at all. There’s a difference between watching a film as an adult, and watching one as an infant.

The pleasure of any film is in the way it unfolds — that special-touch factor, the art of it, the timing, the polish, the undercurrent, the first-classiness of it all. How the story is told, not the story itself…right? Singer, not song.

Plus the whole plot is sitting on the film’s Wikipedia page. Al Pacino in The Insider: “The cat totally out of the bag…”

On top of which Craig doesn’t play a boorish old-school sexist. He never has really. He plays a good, decent, smart, non-arrogant fellow in No Time to Die, and when the big moment comes it’s rather sad and classically invested in. And that’s where I shed my single, solitary tear.

Let no one doubt that the ending of No Time To Die was written by people who are terrified of seeming tethered to the past (who isn’t?), and are triply terrified of wokester (especially #MeToo) wrath, and that the ending was written to make a point — i.e., we’re in a new world, and there’ll be no more of that old “shaken, not stirred” broth…that smooth, sexist, tuxedo-wearing, martini-sipping swagger. We’re ending that shit here and now.

And it’s completely foolish and stupid, by the way, for the film to say at the end of the closing credits that JAMES BOND WILL RETURN. No Time To Die is not a Marvel or a D.C. film.

Friendo to HE: “I can’t say for sure what the Bond producers will do, but there’s way too much money on the table for them to just say goodbye to James Bond. And Barbara Broccoli is on record as saying that the character won’t be a woman. Bond will be back, with a new actor (probably a Caucasian), and they’ll present it as a reboot.”

HE to Friendo: “But they’ve conclusively eliminated that possibility. The only way to get around this would be inject Marvel and D.C.-styled plotting.”

Friendo to HE: “The Bond series has been running on nostalgia fumes for too long. We agree, right down the line, on what the great Bond films are — basically the early ones plus Casino Royale. We agree that most of the Bond films since then have been product. James Bond, in his heyday, will always be one of the most important characters in pop culture. But the series is decades past its prime.”

HE to Friendo: “It’s not just Craig [who’s affected by the ending]. It’s the whole family, the whole fraternal clan of Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig. The whole legend has been [redacted].”

A serious filmmaker friend who recently saw NTTD in a private screening room: “I cried when I watched it, as did [a big-name actor in a forthcoming franchise film] and [another big actor who’s recently completed shooting a major-league production under a venerated director]…all of us in the same big screening room.”

Friendo to HE: “Okay, but it’s not just the wokesters who [created that ending]. They put the final nail in the coffin, but his day was done long ago. But that doesn’t mean classic masculinity is over. Besides how could he not be back? The Broccolis are like the Saudi Royal Family. They’ll do whatever it takes. And they’re not going to put a stopper in the spigot of riches that is Bond, James Bond. They’re just not.”

HE to Friendo: “The crusty old sexist Bond thing was a cultural problem a long time ago. It was baked into the franchise back in the’70s, and was unmistakable in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early aughts. Daniel Craig never really played that guy. He was an entirely decent fellow in NTTD. The Bond brand came out of the early ’50s and peaked with Goldfinger in ’64. Thunderball was the beginning of the gradual decline of the Connery phase. I say again that the producers are truly foolish and even reckless for having painted themselves into this kind of corner.”

Friendo to HE: “I don’t think so. With No Time To Die they’ve sent the Bond series back into orbit. That’s VERY smart. Three or four years from now, when they relaunch it with some exciting new actor playing Bond, no one will give a fuck that they ‘cheated.'”