Review by Dan Skip Allen
Christopher Nolan tends to play with time in his movies quite a bit. In Memento the film goes in reverse. In Dunkirk, he uses three different periods: a day, three weeks, and an hour, to tell the famous WWII story. And in Inception, he turns time in on its head completely. Let's just say Nolan has a penchant for manipulating time in his movies. And in Tenet it's no different.
Nolan has used many different facets of movie-making over the years to tell his stories and make his films look like extravaganzas. IMAX cameras are a prime example of these. He loves showing the big shot as often as possible in his movies. Tenet has plenty of those and sometimes uses them over and over again. Nolan's acumen with technology can be a benefit to his films but it can be a hindrance as well, as it is in Tenet. It's hard to follow all of the time-bending stuff he's doing, and the dialogue is very difficult to follow along with as well. The sound manipulation plays over the dialogue which makes it hard to hear at times.
The aptly named "Protagonist" (John David Washington) is a man that is tasked with investigating a new technology called time inversion. In regards to the plot of the story, it's basically a spy thriller with a big bad villain (Kenneth Branagh) in the mold of a Bond film. Appearances by Elizabeth Debecki as Sator's wife and Robert Pattinson as a friend to The Protagonist, as well as plenty of Hollywood's character actors, round out the cast. They play their part in trying to help the viewer to understand this convoluted plot and storyline. It wasn't very easy to understand or follow for that matter.
Nolan tries to use the device of time inversion technology to drive the story forward. He brings these characters in and out of the movie to make the viewer think something important is going on. What really is happening is a lot of talking and doing nothing until the third act of the film. This film is little more than a convoluted jigsaw puzzle. Even after a great action-packed finale it just seemed like a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Some of the Bond plots were easier to understand then this film was.
It remains a thing that when Christopher Nolan makes a film it's a must-see. And Tenet was no different from the others, especially after the first trailer came out for it. For all the great films he has directed like The Dark Knight, Inception, and Dunkirk he still has a few others that aren't that great, but people still flock to see them though because of the name of Nolan. This time around he got in his own way, though. The story is a convoluted mess even though the visuals and acting are very good. Nolan, it seems was making a film only he would love, forgetting everybody else entirely. It left me scratching my head and wondering, when is he ever going to make another great film again. This one wasn't great. It wasn't bad either. It just wasn't what we've come to expect from this phenomenal director.
Tenet is now playing in theaters.