Tenet Review - Ambitious, But Nothing New

Tenet Review - Ambitious, But Nothing New

Tenet is finally here, after much delay. Was it worth the wait?

Tenet is big. Tenet is ambitious. Tenet is a grand reminder of why the theatre is not yet dead. Christopher Nolan has not given up on the cinema experience, and we shouldn't either. With this new film, Nolan has set out on the journey to save cinema when many studios have converted to streaming. But is Tenet enough to bring the sickened cinema back to life, or is its hugely confusing premise and poor character development the nail in the coffin?

Just Another Nolan Film


Christopher Nolan has cemented himself as a genius. With films like Interstellar, Inception and the Dark Knight Trilogy, it seems like he can do no wrong. Tenet can easily be listed as one of his best films. It stands the rigor of the overly zealous Nolan fans who expect nothing less than greatness. The plot is quite heavy and expresses a concept that may have you scratching your head. Many of the events that occur in the film are not immediately addressed, so you are left in the dark as small patches of light are slowly shone. 

The battles seem cosmic as our nameless protagonist and his allies race against time to prevent an apocalyptic event. A lot of the scenes will have you in awe with the whole idea of time inversion being weaved in to add spectacle. The concept the film is trying to bring to light is interesting but full of holes. Don't try to understand it too much because the film will simply cease to make sense. All of the massive time inverted action sequences were just distractions from the massive nonsensicalness of the entire thing. Christopher Nolan films have a way of presenting grand ideas, and one must always remind oneself that it's just a movie. Now let's get into some nitty-gritty.

Script 7/10


Tenet's plot takes you from one side of the world to the other without much care for time. The general direction of the plot is straightforward enough, without any holes. But once we start adding in the concept of time inversion, things get confusing. It's not an easy film to understand, and by the end, you still wouldn't understand. I even wonder if Christopher Nolan, who also wrote the film, even understands the film. This isn't the kind of brain fudder film Hollywood is so used to dangling in our faces. Go into this film with a clear mind and stay focused!

My biggest issue with the script was the lack of character development and general human emotion. Our main protagonist and his handler Neil were very mission-oriented. Not much backstory is given about them, nor do we really see them feel anything. The film seemed mostly focused on the plot and concept than actual character development. The only character in the film which was given some form of development is Elizabeth Debicki's Kat. We see her cry and get angry, and her motivations were very clear from the beginning. The reason why the others were putting themselves in harm's way was simple and to the point; to save the world from destruction. That's enough motivation and works in the plot but keeps the characters on a surface level to the viewers.

Cast 9/10


John David Washington played the role of our protagonist quite well. He did what he was paid to do and a little extra. The other members of the cast also did a splendid job, and I have no quarrels about the casting choice. Robert Pattinson fit into his role so perfectly that you couldn't think of anyone else playing it. Other excellent casting choices were Elizabeth Debicki as Kat, Andrei's estranged wife, Dimple Kapadia as Priya, Sanjay's wife, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ives. Kenneth Branagh played the role of the typical Russian bad guy on point as Andrei Sator. We also cannot forget Clémence Poésy's impeccable delivery as Barbara, whose job was simply to dumb down the overly complex idea the film is trying to present.

I would give casting 10/10, but that Michael Caine situation got me. Michael Caine is such a renowned actor, especially in the world of Christopher Nolan, but got such a minor role. Anyone could have played his part, and it wouldn't have made a difference—what a waste.

Pacing 8/10


The film wasn't action-packed but kept you invested from the start. Every second seemed like an integral part of the story, with no forced dialogue or awkward plot points. The film flowed from point A to B to C without flaw, only drawing you out when you try to understand what the hell is actually going in. But if you only let go of reason, then its pacing is almost seamless. There was one scene near the end, which I will not spoil, but while watching it, I was totally confused as to what was going on. I spaced out of the movie for a second to try to wrap my head around the new information presented. It is eventually explained, and I was instantly drawn back in, but moments like that take away from the movie's general flow.

The action scenes were some of the best I've seen with a lot of explosions and implosions. Even a couple of scenes featuring hand to hand combat was a spectacle once time inversion is added to the mix. Tenet is 100% best experienced on the biggest screen and darkest room you can find. 

Composition 10/10

The one thing you can't deny is Christopher Nolan's filmmaking skills. Every scene, every set-piece, every sound effect was perfectly placed. Don't even let me get started on the score. When the soundtrack plays, you can instantly tell that it will be one to remember forever, similar to that of the score for 007 or Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Overall 8/10


Tenet is an extremely enjoyable watch. If you turn down your brain's natural capacity to make sense of stuff, then it could be the best film you see this year. It's not a perfect film and not the best creation from the director, but it stands the rigor of his cult following.

If you like well-put-together films that are BIG, EXPLOSIVE, and tell a good story, then this is for you. If you like Brain fodder that is easy to understand and not confusing at all, then this may not be for you. I guarantee that you'll be scratching your head over some of the concepts saying, "That makes absolutely no sense."

At the end of it all Tenet is......a must watch!

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