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In Mexico City, Bond tracks Marco Sciarra, one of the few remaining top members of Quantum after their leaders were revealed by Bond at the Bregenz opera house in Austria. Sciarra has two men murdered in a restaurant before Bond can get to him. Whilst investigating, Bond discovers the two men were, in fact, also members of Quantum. Bond kills Sciarra and takes his ring, which bears the insignia of an octopus, believing it to be a clue.
Back in London, Moneypenny brings over the last of Bond's belongings from the Skyfall estate. Among them is a photograph of a young Bond with a man he identifies as a father figure, Hannes Oberhauser. After realising Bond has a girl in his bed, Moneypenny receives a call: M has summoned them.
Bond and Moneypenny catch M coming out of a conference. Bond identifies other men in the conference room as representatives of nine intelligence agencies across the globe. A younger man, Denbigh, watches Bond/Moneypenny follow M to his office.
M reveals that Raoul Silva's recent acts of terror have resulted in the tabling of a major intelligence sharing operation called Nine Eyes, where nine global intelligence agencies effectively coordinate as one. The proposal is being chaired by Denbigh, a supporter of intelligence reform who also initiated the attempt to have Judi Dench's M fired during the events of Skyfall. If successful, Denbigh would operate as overseer of the Nine Eyes, giving him an unprecedented level of control. The 00 section is being suspended, with Bond's actions in Mexico used as proof the department is out of control. Bond presents the video from Judi M as evidence there could be a mole within the organisation, possibly related to the remnants of Quantum. M tells Bond to pursue the lead, but quietly and off the books.
Bond travels to Rome, seduces Sciarra's widow, Lucia, using her husband's ring to pretend he is representing the same organisation as her deceased husband. Bond tells her that British intelligence are onto the mole in their operations and while Sciarra feigns ignorance, she points him in the direction of a meeting taking place at a masked ball at the International Centre For Displaced Persons building. Bond and Sciarra attend, with the meeting taking place over dinner. Mr White is in attendance and refers to his boss, living in Austria, and plans to absorb what remains of Quantum into another organisation to expand its reach into the underworld, killing all those who refuse. When it comes her turn to speak, Sciarra reveals she has been playing Bond all along and hands him over to be killed. With the help of Moneypenny, acting as backup, Bond escapes. Mr. White is killed and Moneypenny kills Sciarra before she can kill Bond. Before Bond escapes, pursued by henchman Hinx, he recognises and is recognised a young woman also in attendance at the meeting.
Following a chase through the streets of Rome, Bond and Moneypenny evade Hinx. Moneypenny is recalled to London to assist M and Bond travels on to Austria by train.
In London, Denbigh uses footage of Bond and Moneypenny in Austria to show M's agents once again 'going rogue' as justification for passing Nine Eyes. The proposal will be voted on in a week. M wonders how Denbigh got hold of the footage, obviously suspecting him as the mole but lacking proof.
On the train to Austria, Bond bumps into the same woman who was in attendance at the meeting in Rome. Her name is Madeleine Swann, Bond's first love as a child, who comforted him after his parents died in a mountain climbing accident before he abandoned her to join the Royal Navy at his mentor Hannes Oberhauser's suggestion. She questions him before Hinx appears. Bond accuses Swann of betraying him and she tearfully apologises. Hinx takes Bond back to the compartment, planning on killing him there, but Bond kills Hinx instead. He searches the train for Madeleine, but it is revealed she got off at a previous stop.
From details acquired from Hinx's body, Bond meets a woman called Irma Bundt at the station in Austria, who escorts him to a beautiful house in the snowy mountains. He is met by a man identifying himself as Franz Oberhauser, son of father figure Hannes from Bond's childhood. Madeleine is also there. Oberhauser wines and dines them in best villain tradition, revealing he used Madeleine to lure Bond in after discovering Bond was the one who ruined Quantum and defeated Silva. It was Oberhauser who told his father to encourage Bond to join the Navy as he too was enamoured with Madeleine, who rejected him in favour of Bond.
Bond is sent to his cell for the night, but escapes with the help of a gadget from Q and investigates the house. He corners Madeleine, who tells him that she rejected Oberhauser again even after Bond left, but Oberhauser had her kidnapped years later and forced to do his bidding. This brings back memories of Vesper for Bond, who clearly sees this as a chance to amend that earlier regret. They break into Oberhauser's computer and discover proof of his links to Denbigh and the name of his new organisation, SPECTRE, which plans to seize control of global intelligence through Nine Eyes. Bond calls Q to help him send the proof to London.
Irma corners Bond and Madeleine, resulting in a gunfight breaking out. The two escape, blowing up the house with Oberhauser in it, and skiing to safety down the mountains. At a lodge in a nearby town, Bond and Madeleine make amends, with Bond revealing his regrets at letting her go and longing for a life he could have had. They consummate their rekindled love for each other.
In London, Bond leaves Madeleine at his flat while he goes to wrap up business with Denbigh. Denbigh reveals he was a decoy for Oberhauser to kidnap Madeleine, thanks to the cameras planted in Bond's flat by the girl (an Oberhauser spy) he had there when Moneypenny visited. Bond kills Denbigh and Oberhauser summons Bond to a showdown at the old MI6 building, scheduled for demolition with Madeleine inside. Bond rescues Madeleine and defeats Oberhauser, who reveals at the last minute that he too was recruited by SPECTRE for the same reason he kidnapped Madeleine: to lure Bond in as revenge for foiling his boss' original plan to take over the service by humiliating M and getting her fired (Skyfall). Bond forces Oberhauser to give up his boss' name, but just before he does, a SPECTRE helicopter kills Oberhauser and fires a missile at the building, instigating the demolition explosives. Bond and Madeleine make a miraculous escape with the help of equipment from the old Q branch.
While surveying the wreckage, Bond meets M, who reveals Nine Eyes has been shelved and MI6 and the 00 section reinstated for good. Bond gives up what Oberhauser told him about SPECTRE having another leader, but also resigns from the service, handing over his gun and driving away with Madeleine.
In a post-credits sting, the surviving Irma Bundt reports back to her superior, whose face remains unseen but is named as Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
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