WarningMight contain spoilers.

It’s funny to think that despite how omnipresent he is in modern culture, the only James Bond film I’d seen before this was Quantum of Solace , which I found very disappointing. I was planning to skip this one as usual, but my family and I heard it was very good, so we undertook the perilous journey to the theatre. Sadly, we were in for another disappointment. The film is an odd mélange of antiquated tropes lacking in self-awareness with the occasional modern reimagining thrown in. It has little control over its tone. As a whole, it pales in comparison to the brilliance of the sombre Tenet or the thrills of the recent, masterfully-directed entries in the the Mission: Impossible series.

I used to admire Cary Fukunaga before learning of his abhorrent, predatory behaviour, but even then, I was unable to praise the poor writing or direction. The actors are all that breathes life into the story: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Rami Malek, and, to a lesser extent, Lashana Lynch. Léa Seydoux unfortunately isn’t given anything to do except simper and cry. I kept hoping Ana de Armas would return after her one sequence—where she handily stole every scene—because she was superb and I didn’t want to believe she had such a small role.

Naturally, Bond is superhumanly invulnerable until the film needs him to die. I’ll concede that the last sequence is very sad, thanks entirely to Daniel Craig’s performance. Everything else is a hindrance, right down to the editing.

Equally naturally, it’s two white men in a room and a third in Japan who decide between them whether to set off World War III. To be fair to the film, that is realistic.

It’s somewhat tactless to release a film about a bioweapon in the midst of the pandemic. I hear the story was being rewritten even in postproduction, which fits with what we see.