Tenet (2020) A Review

Heralded as the film that was going to save the summer blockbuster season, this film had so much expectation built up around it.  Is it as good as we wanted it to be?

Certificate: PG

Director: Christopher Nolan

Screenwriter: Christopher Nolan

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 150 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

In a twilight world of international espionage, an unnamed CIA operative, known as The Protagonist, is recruited by a mysterious organization called Tenet to participate in a global assignment that unfolds beyond real time. The mission: prevent Andrei Sator, a renegade Russian oligarch with precognition abilities, from starting World War III. The Protagonist will soon master the art of “time inversion” as a way of countering the threat that is to come. – From IMDB

A new Christopher Nolan movie is always going to be a huge cinematic event.  But when it is the first of the big summer blockbusters to be released after a global pandemic, and is the main tool marketing people are using to try and get people back out to movie theatres, the pressure and hype around that film are bound to be compounded tenfold.  Which is exactly what happened here.  I don’t know if it is the cinema saviour people are asking it to be.  But it will leave an impact on people that’s for sure.

This film is non-stop from the very beginning.  From it’s opening scenes there is pulse pounding action and some amazingly choreographed fight scenes.  You have got to keep up or this film will lose you very quickly.  And that is my main criticism of it.  Let your attention waver for more than a few seconds are you are likely to miss something important.  Nolan is known for his mind bending plots and worlds where physics is pushed to it’s absolute limits, but this plot is a few steps away from convoluted.  I am all for not treating the audience like they are stupid, but also, give us an opportunity to understand what’s going on before rushing onto the next part.

All the performances however are astounding.  John David Washington (Blackkklansman) does a great job as the unnamed Protagonist. He is the one the audience will empathise with the most, learning and figuring out the physics of his new world at the same time we are. A convincing and likable action hero, he plays well opposite his quieter right hand man Neil played by Robert Pattinson.  It may have taken me a few years (read many many years) but I have finally stopped seeing his name attached to a film and rolling my eyes.  He has proven his acting props in recent years so I think it’s about time I let go of my ‘Twilight’ related grudges.  And it’s not often we get to see Kenneth Branagh play a villain, but here he does it oh so brilliantly.  A little bit of a lack lustre motive, but a fantastic performance all the same.

I just feel this film is trying a little too hard.  It is technically and visually astounding and the performances are great.  But the overly convoluted plot is bound to put some people off and confuse others. 

To decide for yourself see Tenet in UK cinemas now.  But do so safely and only if/when you are comfortable doing so.

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