There’s a bit of pressure riding on Tenet as not only is it the newest project from acclaimed filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Dunkirk, but its also being prophesied as the movie to save the cinema experience during the pandemic! Is Tenet the movie to bring audiences back to the cinema?
A renegade Russian oligarch, Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), has technology that can manipulate the flow of time, which will create World War III. A CIA operative, known as The Protagonist (John David Washington), is recruited by a mysterious organisation to stop Sator’s plan, who gives him a codeword for specific places and people; “Tenet“. With the help of a handler, Neil (Robert Pattinson), and Sator’s estranged wife, Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), the Protagonist has to master time inversion in order to counter the threat that is to come.
It’s almost insane how much confidence Warner Brothers has in Christopher Nolan as they willingly give him massive budgets on very original, diverse, but risky concepts. Usually, Nolan can blend together big spectacle action sequences with high concept and usually complicated stories. As Tenet is a concept that Nolan has been developing for over 2 decades and wrote the script over 6 years, its easy to see that he was excited to show his interpretation of time travel on the big screen. One of the strongest aspects of Tenet is the time inversion as you see certain objects or people moving forwards and backward at the same time on so many different scales. From a hallway fight sequence with Washington’s character to a building that explodes and reassembles. Also, a 747 plane crashes in the movie. The fact that most of the sequences and stunts are in camera and don’t rely on CGI makes it so much more impressive. Also, a special shoutout to Ludwig Göransson for his amazing and technical score.
Similar to most Nolan movies, the plot is more focused on the genre that it’s engrossed in rather than the high concept gimmick. The time inversion is used more as a tool within a James Bond-esc spy espionage thriller. However, that does not stop every character in Tenet move from country to country and speaks in very heavy exposition with very little traits or motivations, aside from “we have to save the world”. While every single actor is bringing in their A-game and work together very well, it’s difficult to fully engage with the characters that they portray as they are mostly used to move the plot forward (or backward?). And as there is so much to keep track of, the movie doesn’t really stop to let you take in what has happened as it is either heavy exposition or overly complicated time inversion action sequences where it becomes difficult to keep track of where certain people are. Hopefully, on a rewatch, everything becomes a bit clearer.
Overall, Tenet is a very densely packed experience. While it’s visually spectacular and has an amazing cast, the plot spirals into a very complex and almost humanless adventure. If you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan or you just want to see a new movie at the cinemas, then I can definitely recommend the movie, but I imagine that unless people are willing to revisit Tenet after several viewings, it might be a bit inaccessible for some people.
Rating: ★★★(1/2) out of 5
Tenet is in cinemas now.