Tenet is Unlike Any Other Film
I have to be honest with you right up front: Christopher Nolan is my favorite film-maker of all-time. Because of that, there will be some bias in my experience of Tenet.
I also have to be honest with you about this: I don’t know if I fully understand Tenet yet. Walking out of Christopher Nolan’s newest blockbuster is an absolute monster of a plot, with narrative threads moving forwards and backwards – often simultaneously – while guns are shot and bullets fly backwards.
And through it all, it is mesmerizing. To put it bluntly, Tenet is a movie you absolutely need to see.
And I will do my best to review it without spoiling anything. This review will be short, and hopefully sweet.
The Story Set-Up
Following the character simply known as the Protagonist, we are shown a world on the verge of World War III, a world that is a little too close to our own. This is amplified by the movie’s dealing with secret agencies and covered-up plots. It all touches on very real fears of our own world and given Nolan’s tendency to place real-world influences in his films, I am sure that it is intentional.
The Cast is Solid
John David Washington leads the film and his quiet, brooding demeanor certainly does enough to carry the film forward. Alongside him, we have Robert Pattinson playing his sort-of sidekick and he also does a great job in knowing when to play up the charm and when to fall back on quiet reflection. Elizabeth Debicki turns in a solid performance as the female lead of the film, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson comes in late to round the cast out with another good outing as Ives.
However, the performance that really caught my eye was Kenneth Branagh as villaion, Andrei Sator. At first glance, Sator looks like typical, spy-movie, Russian villain, but Branagh brings a true intensity to the role. He is always calculating, always plotting, and he does a fantastic job in bringing the threat to life.
The Set-Pieces Are Fantastic
Nolan is known for his dedication to practical effects and Tenet follows suit. That’s always been part of why Nolan’s films are so wonderful to watch: everything is done with minimal CGI and it all feels so real and immersive. This film has multiple set-pieces and moments like this, but the standout is absolutely the scene that has already been covered by the media: the actual crashing of an actual plane.
The entire scene plays out with such excitement, such dedication, and such artistry that only Nolan can pull off. He just has a talent for choreographing these huge action sequences, taking us on the lowest level to watch the characters do what they need to do while also pulling out to show everything going on.
There is just something so masterful about how Nolan is able to pull these scenes off, perfectly pacing the scenes so that they crescendo at the right moment and allow for the most emotional response.
The Story of Tenet is Not Easy to Follow At Times
Now, as I said earlier, the film’s plot is complex, often confusing. But when you deal with time manipulation in a story, that is par-for-the-course. That, in no way, is a detractor for the film. Nolan is no stranger to crafting a thrilling blockbuster that also tackles big ideas and tells a complex story. This kind of storytelling has been present throughout his entire career, but Tenet might just be the most complex film he has ever made.
This kind of complexity will turn off many viewers, as it does lower the film’s digestibility. But it can also be the factor that sets it up as a masterpiece for others. For me, it was the latter; a truly mind-bending film that was crafted with such passion and dedication. Its ideas are huge, its set-pieces are monstrous, and its finale superb. Nolan has shown time and time again that he is a master of what he does.
He is amazing at taking these blueprints from other films – this one heavily-influenced by the James Bond films – and playing with its pieces. Looking at a story within the genre and seeing how we can change it around to be fresh and new.
And I have to say that this film’s “Aha!” moments are truly worth experiencing.
If There is a Movie to See, It Is Tenet
We all have fear about going back to the movies and for very good reason. But if you feel safe and feel that your theatre is following the right kind of protocols, then Tenet is absolutely the movie to see right now.
Christopher Nolan has seemingly been in his peak his entire career and it doesn’t look like that will end anytime soon.
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