Film Review – Tenet

Tenet (M)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

It is no wonder that so much pressure has been placed on Christopher Nolan’s summer tentpole film Tenet to single-handedly save the cinema industry during a pandemic – it is a film that requires multiple viewings.

Much like Nolan’s chronologically challenged Memento and multi-level dreamiverse Inception, just once is not enough to capture all the intricacies of Tenet. But be warned: if those other films gave you a headache, you are in for a splitting migraine this time.

A nameless Protagonist (John David Washington) discovers that technology invented in the future that causes items to reverse their trajectory, has somehow made its way to the present.

A startling discovery on its own, but he then must team up with a group, including new buddy Neil (Robert Pattinson) to try and stop Russian villain Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) from ending the world with this ability to move back and forth in time.

In order to get close to Andrei, Protagonist has to use his suffering wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), who is trapped in the abusive marriage.

If you want a spoiler-free review, you are in luck. Tenet is the kind of film that is almost impossible to spoil because, to be honest, it is hard to keep up with it. What has been mentioned is about all you will come away with the first time around.

A lot of things are said, time travel and movement theories expounded, but not a lot of time is allowed for it to sink in. We are even let off the hook early on when a woman in lab coat says “Don’t try to understand it”. What it does allow for is some startling action sequences in which some elements play out in reverse.

Having said that, Tenet is the most entertained I have been without knowing what is even going on half the time. Every 20 minutes you catch nuggets of information that gives you a general gist before cars suddenly start reversing on a freeway and you are back at square one again.

Sure the appropriate amount of spectacle is there – enough to please any movie starved cinema-goer, but it is the underwritten characters and lack of stakes that disappoint more than the confusion.

If you enjoy the mental gymnastics of Inception, Donnie Darko, Mulholland Drive and The Matrix trilogy, you will have a field day with Tenet. Expect to be trying make heads or tails out of it for hours after.

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