“Die, but Not Now” Almost Ruined the Best Bond Plot twist in Skyfall

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While the murder of Judi Dench in “Skyfall” was a touching and shocking conclusion to the 2012 James Bond film, this twist was almost spoiled by “Die, but Not Now” a few years earlier. The tone of the James Bond series couldn’t have changed any more between the films of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig in this role. Brosnan’s Bond was a smirking, smug womanizer, whereas Craig’s brooding James Bond was a serious, unsmiling secret agent gripped by guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some critics James Bond played by Craig was even (inaccurately) claimed to have fewer love interests than his predecessors, which is a testament to how much the James Bond franchise changed the character’s personality between Brosnan’s reign and the time Craig played the role. However, there was one key part of Brosnan’s tenure in Bond that survived Craig’s arrival. Judi Dench’s serious incarnation of Bond boss M. was featured in Brosnan’s first film, but remained part of the series until the devastating 2012 Skyfall.

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Near the end of Skyfall, M was killed by Javier Bardem’s Silva, which confirmed that no one was safe in this darker and more mature iteration of the franchise. The massive turn of “No Time to Die” was anticipated by Skyfall’s revelation that M could be killed on screen—the first evidence that the 007 franchise was ready to canonically kill the main character. However, the tragic and completely unexpected death of Bond’s boss was almost thwarted by the original Die But Not Now project, in which Judi Dench had to retire and be replaced by Edward Woodward a few years before Craig even took on the role of Bond.

How Die Another Day Almost Ruined Dench’s M Exit

The maneuverable “Die, but Not Now” scenario initially had a much less dramatic ending for the Dench “M” iteration, which would deprive the character’s story of all its pathos. Craig’s connection with M. Dench made their dynamic effective, and her death tragic, as he relied on her for emotional support and professional guidance. Due to Bond’s betrayal due to his love interest in Casino Royale, Craig 007’s agent found it difficult to trust anyone, which turned his willingness to follow M’s instructions into a sign that he was gradually healing this psychological wound. Bond’s discovery that M had been lying to him for years was already a heavy blow at the beginning of the Skyfall story, while her death was a violent moment that broke the character’s heart.

However, all this emotional impact would have been reversed if Craig’s Bond had worked with M Woodward, as it is unlikely that he would have had the same rapport with the character. While the British star would be a good choice as Brosnan’s Bond boss, it was Dench who made M’s Skyfall’s death so impressive. Dench explored the humanity underlying the character for the first time in the long history of the James Bond franchise, which made her death Skyfall a strong shock to viewers.

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