I wasn’t expecting No Time To Die to draw so much on Metal Gear Solid in its story, and yet, here we are. Granted, the Metal Gear series borrowed heavily from James Bond, what with the central idea of a single operative on a clandestine mission into a supervillain’s base where, armed with gadgets, he must stop the villain’s scheme of global destruction (to one extent or another). Metal Gear 2 used Sean Connery as the basis for Big Boss’s appearance in the game and Metal Gear Solid 3 goes all-in on a James Bond theme song for its opening with ‘Snake Eater.’ It’s not unusual for video games to drawnon movies for inspiration (Uncharted is the best Indiana Jones video game), it’s going the other way that’s relatively novel.
Project Heracles, the mysterious superweapon in No Time To Die, is effectively just FOXDIE from Metal Gear Solid. Both are bioweapons developed by the main operative’s government (In Metal Gear Solid it’s the DIA, No Time To Die MI6) that selectively kill targets based on what DNA it’s been programmed to attack. Granted, in No Time they’re nanomachines instead of a retrovirus, but nanomachines are another trademark of Metal Gear Solid, so, really we’re splitting hairs.
The parallels get more astute as Bond goes on his Big Mission. Bond, like Snake, has been dragged out of retirement and is sent via a stealthy torpedo-like vehicle to the villain’s secret island base. The vehicle emerges in an enclosed dock and, from there, he fights his way to the big bad. It’s a very broad stroke, but small details like the nature of the insertion vehicle or that both villains’ bases are nuclear adjacent really bring out the similarities. But just in case you thought it was all just coincidence, one of the final beats has James Bond climbing up a long ladder — a moment that can’t help but echo the legendary ladder scene of Metal Gear Solid 3.
No Time To Die’s director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, has been open about his own love of video games, joking that shooting the movie was holding up his playing of Red Dead Redemption 2 and describing how video game sound design influences his own (by the way, the sound design of No Time To Die is exceptional). It stands to reason that he’s at the very least familiar with the Metal Gear Solid games, so perhaps these references in a Bond movie are a love letter to a video game series that wears its love of the Bond movies on its sleeve.
Furthermore, as the years go by, more movie directors are those who’ve grown up on video games like Metal Gear Solid, I’m betting that we’re going to see a lot more video game references like these in movies. Which is good! Art is all about being inspired by other forms of art. A song references a painting that references a book that referenced a poem. We’ve had sports dramedy tv borrow from the epitome of modernist fiction, why not have the spy movie franchise borrow from the stealth game franchise?