One of the years most anticipated films pre pandemic also became the film that would some months later be labeled as the “savior of the movie industry and Hollywood as a whole”. If The numbers proved different, Tenetwas looking to be the welcome back to theaters for all movie goers and fans alike. But as the curve never flattened the release date kept getting pushed back until finally theaters opened back up minus the two largest markets (NY and Los Angeles). As far as the world getting back to a sense of normalcy Tenet failed to draw crowds back to theaters even with 40% capacity.
Tenet is a masterpiece in filmmaking technologically speaking. It’s why whenever a new Christopher Nolan (“Memento”, “Interstellar”, “The Dark Knight”) film releases, people around the globe go mad because Nolan’s style of filmmaking is so visually awe inspiring and jaw dropping that you can’t help but wonder how in the world he came up with this and made these effects work so flawlessly. With each film, Nolan out does himself from the previous films making it impossible to keep him off any best director lists. There is also a clear and present downside to his style of filmmaking that doesn’t go un-punished either.
Nolan’s downside is the increasingly complex scripts he writes leaving majority of us movie goers and film fans needing a second and sometimes third viewing (with subtitles and all) of each film to have a basic understanding of what the plot actually is. Minus his “Batman” trilogy every Nolan film requires your undivided attention weather that’s at the theater (something that should be happening regardless) or at home. For two plus hours lock yourself in a room, turn the lights down and your phone off. It’s the easiest way to watch his films.
“One of these bullets is like us, traveling forwards through time. The other one’s going backwards. Can you tell which is which?”
Tenet is no different, its mind bending and head scratching. Just when you think you have an idea of what’s going on – plot twist. I picture Nolan with the most maniacal evil laugh as he writes this script knowing his clout will draw big box office numbers from people around the globe. Nolan’s clout also draws the biggest stars in Hollywood to star in his films. From Guy Pearce, Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey to John David Washington and the newest actor to dawn the cape and cowl – Robert Pattinson.
John David Washington (“Ballers”, “BlackKklansman”) plays the Protagonist and Pattinson (“Good Time”, “High Life”) plays Neil. Rounding out the rest of the cast include Elizabeth Debicki (‘The Great Gatsby”, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2”), Himesh Patel (“Yesterday”), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Godzilla”, “Kick-Ass”), Michael Caine (“The Dark Knight Trilogy”), & Kenneth Branagh (“Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets”, “Dunkirk”). The performances from the cast as a whole is one of the strongest points of the film with standout performances from John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. Kenneth Branagh is diabolical and commands the screen with his looming presence throughout the film. He easily steals the show.
If one thing is certain Robert Pattinson continues to prove he’s more than his “Twilight” years. He has become one of the best actors working today and this performance only adds to that fact. His charm and charisma shine alongside John David Washington who has stepped out of his father’s shadow and has quickly become a star in his own right.
Composer Ludwig Göransson (“Creed”, “Black Panther”) never misses an opportunity thrown his way. His musical style is laced in this films DNA and his score expertly fits the films twisted and mind-boggling plot. The score is big and bold perfect for the scale Nolan sets his universes in.
“People who’ve amassed fortunes, like your husband’s, generally aren’t okay with being cheated out of any of it.”
Where Tenet fails is in the overly complex plot and script. Nolan has this obsession with time and uses it in nearly every single film. It’s his favorite thematic element but most of the time it works to his advantage. With each film the concept only gets more elaborate and confusing. I still don’t really understand “Inception” – will I ever? Probably not but It’s absolutely brilliant. Same can be said here. Is any of this stuff even real? The inversion aspect is incredibly compelling, and it makes for a visually remarkable film but if these films need multiple views just to keep up with what is happening maybe it’s time to obsess over a different thematic element.
There has been a consistent issue with Nolan’s films and the sound mixing and editing. With stories and plots as complex as these, the sound at times makes it difficult to hear the dialogue and at times I found myself lost and confused straining to hear what was said. That problem seems to pop up when dialogue about the plot is being spoken. It can easily take you out of the film and have you play catch up only to get lost in another plot twist.
Overall, Tenet is a powerhouse – Technologically, visually and musically. The performances are outstanding from top to bottom. Could the plot be easily described? No, not in the slightest – not even Charlie Day can explain this plot, but it makes for an interesting film. If you’re a fan of Nolan as majority of us are, see this film for yourself, your eyes will thank you, but your brain and ears might have a little push back. If I were to rate Tenet, I’d rate it a 3.5 out 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Tenet and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Tenet is written & directed by Christopher Nolan is Rated PG-13 and has an 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tenet was released on August 12, 2020 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tenet is currently in theaters.