Tenet: Christopher Nolan’s time twisting action thriller

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After months away from the silver screen, does the movie billed as the one to get us back into the cinema-going experience live up to the hype?

Credit: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock 

Rating: 4/5

Christopher Nolan is one of the few movie directors whose star power can almost overshadow the lead actors of the film. Nolan has a storied history directing some of the most progressive, experimental and blockbuster movies of the millennia. From the war epic ‘Dunkirk’ to Nolan’s mind-bending crime thriller ‘Memento’, audiences are always left guessing what he will do next.

Tenet suffered numerous pushbacks before its release thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this, build-up and anticipation for the movie only got stronger. Tenet also had a lot resting on its success financially as it was billed as the movie to resurrect the film industry.

Tenet stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and Robert Pattinson (Good Time and Twilight) as they team up to stop a world-ending plot involving a scientific breakthrough known as “time inversion”. Inversion is a head-scratching concept where scientists in the future discovered that time flows forwards and backwards simultaneously. An example of this could be an inverted bullet or explosive. Inverted weapons sent back could wreak unparalleled destruction. Our heroes set out to dismantle the doomsday plot spearheaded by Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). The film plays out like a classic Bond movie with sci-fi elements thrown in for good measure.

Credit: Warner Bros

The film is at its best when you’re watching the reversed action scenes backed up with stellar performances. In particular, Pattinson and Branagh turn in stellar performances. Branagh chews the scenery as the film’s villain while Pattinson never fails to sneak in a witty line of dialogue.

Tenet is a complicated movie. One of the main issues (or strengths) with the film is you’re left guessing what is happening right up until the third act. While this builds suspense, it can be hard to follow if you are a casual viewer. Watching Tenet is like being strapped to a rollercoaster with a Boeing jet engine on the back. A quick bathroom break or lapse in concentration and you can be clueless as to what is going on.

Also, the film suffers from challenging audio mixing, particularly in scenes with heavy exposition or loud special effects on top of the dialogue. For some reason, Nolan and the sound engineers decided to make the special effects louder than the characters talking on the screen.

Overall, I think Tenet will benefit from multiple viewings to take in all of the film’s breadth and nuance. Aside from a few drawbacks, primarily in regards to the audio and narrative structure, Tenet is undoubtfully a top five movie of 2020.

Tenet will be easier to consume once it is out on DVD or video streaming sites. This way, you can enjoy the film at your own pace with subtitles.

Tenet is playing at Kingston Odeon and other local cinemas.

 

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