The time has finally come. After a coronavirus shutdown, majority of movie theaters across the country have reopened their doors and audiences are filing back in…until it meets 40% customer capacity. I decided to venture out after the initial reopening weekend to check out Christopher Nolan’s new thriller, Tenet. And it was… an interesting experience in more ways than one.
(This review is spoiler-free)
Tenet is the story about a secret agent protagonist (John David Washington) as he seeks to manipulate the flow of time in order to stop a global level threat.
There were promising performances from our main actors. John David Washington (BlackKklansman, HBO’s Ballers) turned in a solid performance as the nameless protagonist. His role was physical, resourceful and fearless. While he questioned what was happening, he didn’t do it too much and facing his fears as the story progressed. While I wouldn’t call this his leading man calling card, Nolan’s film pushes Washington’s name up a little higher on the list for more roles. Robert Pattinson was especially strong in this pre-The Batman movie as Neil. The confidence and smoothness of his character helped me believe more that I can trust him being Bruce Wayne (the DC FanDome trailer already has me trusting him as Batman) next year. Kenneth Branagh plays Sator, a Russian oligarch that has a foot hold in the future, fits the mold of a modern-day Bond villain: physical, manipulative, violent and resourceful. I enjoyed seeing him work.
The visuals and production value is where a lot of the work was put into the film. Watching the car chases, the flips on the road, the “plane crash” that was mentioned in the trailer was hilarious to watch but also amazing. Nolan knows how to make money work when he puts it into those components in his films and he knocks it out of the park here once again.
Now the flipside. First, I love Christopher Nolan’s films. Films like Memento, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Dunkirk, Interstellar have established Nolan as an blockbuster auteur. His films have been visually stunning, filled with action or suspense, and told an amazing human story. Tenet felt like it would go over the typical moviegoers head. So many time travel theories were packed into the film that it started to feel overwhelming on my brain. Between knowing when the movie moved to flowing backwards in time and moving forward, the complex plot worked against the film. Inception was more understandable, especially once it was explained. On the other hand, Tenet seemed to pile on each scientific theory on time travel and the flow of time into this action thriller. For me, that didn’t take me out of the film but made it difficult to completely keep up. The sound mixing was also a problem because at times, it was difficult to hear the conversation because the characters. While I appreciated the stellar score by Ludwig Goransson, I’ll take hearing what the characters have to say while the sound is turned down just a bit.
Despite the two hour, 35 minute, mask-wearing run time, I think it was a decent return to the theaters and the return of the blockbuster. While I won’t be rushing back to the IMAX or reclining seats in the theaters any time soon, Tenet is worth two viewings: one for the action, another to understand what in the world you just watched.
What are your thoughts on Tenet? How are you feeling about returning to theaters? Hopefully you all give this movie a chance!
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