When watching Christopher Nolan movies, one can expect amazing cinematography, great sound design, deep and intricate plot lines, and great acting. Tenet is no different, but it does go above and beyond in a few of those areas, which can be too good for its own good sometimes.
First of all, I highly recommend not watching any trailers, that’s why there are none linked here. If you can avoid it, knowing as little as possible will make the experience of this film much, much better. Along with that, this review might be fairly vague, but that’s only to give away as little as possible, or nothing about the movie as a whole.
Nolan continues to do an amazing job at creating movies that are beautifully filmed and sound wonderful. Even though the first half of this movie might leave some viewers confused, there’s never a dull moment and its 2.5 hour run time flies by effortlessly. The second half focuses in on the main story and it’s easier to follow along, so don’t worry too much if you get a little lost, it is part of the experience. The plot is very thick and the movie is definitely plot-driven. But if you keep your eyes open while watching, you’ll be able to see a lot more of the character growth and dynamic than appears on camera.
When watching things like The Prestige, Momento, Inception and even Dunkirk, a second or third viewing reveals a lot about the movie and allows people to appreciate it more. After the first 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll already want to watch it again because it’s so good and you’ll be itching to understand more during the second viewing.
The acting is really great. John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, and Kenneth Branagh all do an amazing job adding layers of depth, urgency, and intensity to the film. I would have liked a little bit more character relation growth and more nuanced moments to see this growth, but the characters themselves, and their place were no fault of the actors.
The sounds and music might’ve been the best part about going back to the movie theater. Seeing it on a big screen and in high detail is nice, but the booms, crisp bullets, and extremely unique sounds for Tenet really shine while being in a movie theater. I’d recommend being 100% safe during this quarantine time, but if you’re able to see it in the theaters safely, it’s worth it.
Also, Hans Zimmer could not do the music for Tenet, sadly. However, Ludwig Göransson knocked it out of the park. It sounded like any other Christopher Nolan film, but it had some stronger beats and a unique edge that fit the film perfectly.
There are two issues with this film (that actually come up often in Nolan films but is a little worse here). A lot of talking between characters can be extremely quick, extremely difficult to understand, and very heavy exposition. It is necessary to learn and hear these people and sometimes it is difficult because of accents, situations, and some odd sound balancing levels. This in turn affects the plot because we as viewers need to hear these conversations to understand exactly what is happening and why it’s happening. If you viewers can just go along with the ride, it’s still really great. But to fully understand everything, we’ll have to wait for it to come out on Blu-ray and watch it with subtitles…and even then, it might still be a little difficult to understand fully.
Tenet is a fantastic movie; it is thrilling and a true spectacle. The sheer creativity that comes from Christopher Nolan‘s mind and the way that he films and presents things is unbelievable. So many practical effects and unbelievable shots, it is no wonder he didn’t want this film to go to VOD. But this film suffers from being inaccessible sometimes and a little too focused on plot instead of character. This focus never harms the film too much, but you may need to just sit back and let the movie happen and not worry about understanding every little bit (especially the first time). I highly recommend it and I think it’s a really great movie, just not Christopher Nolan’s best.