Review of 'Tenet'

tenet.jpg The first big Hollywood film to emerge during lock-down, “Tenet” really is a mind-bender with director Christopher Nolan taking us on a high-octane adventure featuring time travel…and that is why I have a headache.

Having taken prisoner during an opera house siege in which he helps save many lives, the unnamed “Protagonist” (John David Washington) bites the “suicide pill” only to awaken and learn the pill was a test of his loyalty. Now recruited by a secret organisation he learns that technology has been developed in the future that allows an object's entropy to be reversed, thereby allowing it to travel backwards in time…with a cool demonstration of bullets that travel from target back into a gun. He quickly discovers that Russian arms dealer Andrei Sator (a sinister, though fairly one-dimensional, no pun intended, Kenneth Branagh) is in touch with an unknown future agency to obtain the technology. Sator's companion Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) provides the protagonist with access and he soon discovers that Sator plans to destroy everything…

I had a big headache after watching this film in the cinema. I am not sure whether it was just me seeing a film on the big screen in a cinema for the first time since lock down (socially distanced, of course), whether the sound system was on way to high or perhaps it was the confusing plot of this film (which I have really only hinted at above). I suspect it is the later too. On the sound side, this is certainly a very noisy film which often makes it heard to make out what the characters are saying though this takes me to my last point in that even if you could hear what they were saying it may not help your understanding of what is going on. The final battle is particularly confusing with two groups of soldiers battling the enemy - one group travelling forward in time and the other backwards then being attacked by weapons that do the same. To be fair, by the end of the film it does all begin to make a bit of sense but it really does the head in…I suppose this is only to be expected from the man that brought us similar mindbenders The Prestige, Interstellar and Momento. A simple film to follow, this is not.

The action is top notch with some truly incredible sequences that really push the boat out…A cargo plane crashing into a building, a dramatic highway heist and, the aforementioned, finale. The acting is passable though, to be fair, there is little need for nuance in this film but when there is, a surprise cameo by Michael Caine as a British elite elevates the talent by quite a notch. Of course, Shakespearian actor (and director in his own right) Kenneth Branagh does not hurt either but here the quixotic Sator is a hard sell and never really captures the audience other than as an obvious baddie. Yeah, this is not a character piece, this is an action piece and in that it does quite well if only I could get over my aching head…

A good action flick but difficult to follow both in terms of noise levels drowning out any helpful dialogue but also in terms of seemingly complicated plot.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-09-27

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2020

Length: 150 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Christopher Nolan: