Tenet | Movie Review

Saturday, 10 October 2020

 This movie was sitting, waiting to go for quite a while. We know that COVID pushed it back and that for a while the hype behind it claimed that it was going to single handedly save cinema. Theaters were hurting due to lockdown and this was the film that was going to bring everyone back. But it didn't go that way. America didn't get the pandemic under control and movie after movie got pushed back to 2021 and beyond. Some were released straight to VOD. But Tenet came out anyway. Here's my review.

Quick note. If audio is more your thing, I talked about this film as well as my experience going back to theaters on my podcast Future Flicks with Billiam which can be found anywhere you listen to podcasts. Look for Return to Theaters and Tenet Review - Ep 183



Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. (Premise from IMDB).

This stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga), Elizabeth Debicki (Everest), Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Michael Caine (The Dark Knight), and Indian actress Dimple Kapadia. It was written and directed by Christopher Nolan who did Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy.

Let's be honest, You know if you like Christopher Nolan's work already. If you like movies at all you've seen something he's done and by now you should know your feelings on his work. The question now is, how confusing is it?



Before the movie came out there were quite a few stories of the actors having no idea what the film was even about or how things worked within it, but that could have just been Nolan's strategy from preventing leaks. Michael Caine was only given his scene to work with and given nothing else of the plot. John David Washington was only allowed to read the script in Nolan's locked office. So the fact that no one on the cast really had a clue, doesn't surprise me.

I do have to be honest though, this film took a while for me to get into for one good reason. This begins faster than a coked up greyhound race and the protagonist (he's never given a name) just kind of goes along with it and knows what to do. He's told about the word tenet, he's introduced to a scientist that tells him how the weird time stuff works, he's told what he has to do, and he's just sent on his way without anything else. It's a jarring beginning to a film that could have used a little more to start with. The film was already two and half hours, would ten more minutes of exposition really been that bad?

But that aside, I eventually go it. I understood what was going on in the movie and I felt confident watching the film that I wasn't missing anything hugely important. I have no doubt that a rewatch will reveal even more to me, but one time through didn't leave me with any unanswerable plot related questions. 



The acting was phenomenal. John David Washington is the new hotness and he's already ready to explode. I wouldn't be surprised if he surpasses his dad in pure acting talent. His dad is Denzel Washington, if you didn't know. Robert Pattinson is further escaping his Twilight/Harry Potter past and showing us he's much more than a teen heartthrob, and everyone else involved was, at the very least, good. There were no wooden or lackluster performances in this movie. 

The cinematography was astounding with no wasted shots. Not once did I stop to wonder why we saw a certain scene or why anything was needed. Christopher Nolan knew what he wanted and it translated flawlessly to the screen. Nolan is no stranger to CG or other computer aided movie telling tools, but what sets him apart is his use of conventional means. Remember the scene in Inception when Joseph Gordon Levitt was walking up the walls? Do you also remember that was real and they built a rotating set for it? That's the kind of stuff that sets Nolan apart from other blockbuster directors. For certain scenes the actors had to learn how to speak backwards, they had to learn how to fight backwards, a lot of this was done conventionally and that will only add to the film's longevity. 

 Tenet was fantastic. I loved it. I loved it even more once I got passed the slightly confusing beginning. Do I love it more than Inception or The Dark Knight trilogy? Maybe not. But this was a fantastic film that was well worth a watch. Yes, you should watch this. Yes, you should own this, and yes, you should watch this more than once.

Tenet gets a 10 out of 11


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