“Tenet” stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. Releasing on September 3, 2020, the film has a secret agent attempting to prevent World War III.
The film is written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who also directed films such as “Following”, “Memento”, “Batman Begins”, “Inception”, and “Dunkirk”. You know how time travel in movies and television gives viewers an opportunity to relive specific parts in history? Well, one man is about to give us a whole new meaning of “time travel”. Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan is back once again with another film that appears to be his most challenging one yet. He has tackled the mind-blowing world of dreams in “Inception”, and he has amazed us with the wonders of space travel and wormholes in “Interstellar”. Now, he’s about to handle the stunning world of time and quantum physics. You got to appreciate the guy for taking a massive interest in science. After being delayed a couple of times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film has finally arrived to bring back the cinematic experience that we’ve been missing for so long because knowing Nolan, he has a severe passion for the art of cinema. This is one of my most anticipated films of 2020 mostly because of my curiosity towards its bizarre concept and Nolan’s involvement. Whenever he’s on board, we can already assume that we’re in good hands. It has the cinematic qualities to impress plenty of fans of Nolan’s works, but will it also win over casual moviegoers? Before I continue, I just want to let you guys know that I attended an early access screening of the film before its official release. I will do my best to keep things spoiler-free in this review so that you can experience it for yourself…if you’re able to. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get started.
The film tells the story of a CIA agent named…um. That’s funny, he doesn’t have a name. He’s just called “the Protagonist” according to the credits. That’s fine. I’ll just name him after the actor who’s playing him, John David Washington. Sounds about right. So, CIA agent John David Washington is recruited into a secret organization after his mission went awry. He learns that this organization is investigating the origin of objects that can move backwards in time. With the assistance of his handler Neil (Pattinson), John David Washington must prevent the Russians from using them to start World War III. Similar to “Inception” and “Interstellar”, “Tenet” used scientific methods to create a unique cinematic experience that combines breathtaking sequences with a plot that’s both complex and engaging. Think of this as a summer blockbuster with a brain…that’s released after the summer. Nolan usually has a way of reminding his audience that even though his film has the style of a cinematic blockbuster, it also has a lot of elements that they got to pay attention to, such as the dialogue and the concept’s rules. This can be troublesome for certain viewers, especially when they have to deal with the sound mixing and the convoluted story. Personally, I have no problems following the story because of how Nolan made the dialogue-driven sequences interesting with his direction and screenplay. Despite its runtime being two and a half hours, the film moved along quite briskly, which should help make the dialogue scenes more bearable. There were definitely a few moments where the dialogue was a bit hard for me to hear due to the sound mixing, but thankfully, they weren’t as irritating as the moments from “Interstellar”. While the storytelling in “Tenet” didn’t quite reach the same level as the likes of “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” (two of my favorite films from Nolan), it still has enough creativity and mind-bending thrills in its complex concept to represent an outstanding experience from start to finish. John David Washington delivered another solid performance as the Protagonist despite his character depth being a bit flat. He really didn’t have a strong enough personality to make viewers care about whether he lives or dies, resulting in him being one of the film’s primary weaknesses. I think the explanation behind this character, in my opinion, was that he was made to serve as the audience’s point of view. We’re experiencing certain things the same way the Protagonist is experiencing himself. That would be my personal guess. Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki were also great in their roles as Neil and Kat respectively, and Kenneth Branagh offered an intimidating and absorbing performance as Andrei Sator, a Russian oligarch and Kat’s husband. Another thing I want to mention is the film’s technical aspects, which were my personal highlights of the experience. Ranging from the immersive cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema to the incredible visual effects, “Tenet” is a mind-bending extravaganza that successfully generates the spirit of a dialogue-driven spy thriller and the soul of a visual-heavy action blockbuster. The way they did the “inversion” sequences, especially the action parts, was just…wow. If I could tell you about them, I would, but I can’t because as I mentioned before, this is a spoiler-free review. They’re just something that you have to see for yourselves. I also thought that the musical score from Ludwig Göransson was quite impressive. Not one of my favorites from him, but it was good regardless.
Overall, Christopher Nolan scored another big hit in the form of “Tenet”, a time-twisting cinematic experience that’s riveting and dazzling enough to earn its sense of convolution. While its main character wasn’t as interesting as its concept, the film was able to compensate by delivering an original and eye-opening thriller that boasts an impressive cast, Nolan’s filmmaking style, an engaging plot, and some incredible visuals. This is definitely something that I would like to rewatch and see if I miss anything during my first viewing. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, probably later on down the road. The film finally opens this weekend, and based on how I feel towards it, it is something that must be experienced on the big screen.