Synopsis: Armed with only one word – Tenet- and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.
The Review: After several delays and a very public back and forth with Warner Brothers due to the ongoing pandemic, Tenet hit select international theaters August 26th, 2020, and select U.S. theaters on September 3rd. Reviews were oddly negative for a film with so much hype and following Nolan has, but still the early reviews and the criticism was with it’s hard to follow plot device and of course, the sound mixing.
Christopher Nolan is no stranger to altering the audience’s perception of the traditional narrative. He essentially has his own universe in which he makes the rules. Take Memento and The Prestige for example, they both feature unreliable narrators and the former is the beginnings of his love for moving the timelines around. With Inception and Interstellar he takes a massive budget, an all-star cast, and plugs them into his reality. Bending time, moving though dreams and space. It is as if every film to date has lead Nolan to this point. Tenet is a master stroke of the director’s talents being used in every way.
The audience is just as clueless as The Protagonist (John David Washington), armed with only one word, Tenet, and a gesture, the CIA operative knows that he must infiltrate and stop a rogue arms dealer Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) from bringing about the end of the world. With stakes that of a James Bond film, the international espionage should satiate anyone’s appetite for a spy thriller.
The obvious elephant in the room that I won’t be spending too much time going into is the plot device of moving backwards, and forwards through time. . . at the same time. We are presented with the evidence in small waves at the beginning of the film. First there are items, such as guns and ammunition that are moving in the present as though they are moving backwards through time. Confused yet? Have no fear, it will all be explained! Kidding, actually one of the things I loved about Tenet is the distinct lack of spoon feeding the audience every single rule of how this mechanism works. We know there is a machine, we know people can move through the machine as long as other stipulations are met. That’s all you really need to know, the amount of negative feedback about “the incoherent story” is simply undeserved.
The supporting cast of Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are all outstanding. Everyone shows up to play in Nolan’s world. Washington and Branagh especially bring elevated performances.
The addition of Ludwig Göransson’s score and photography by Hoyte Van Hoytema make this an absolute must see masterpiece.
4.5 out of 5
The physical release of Tenet hit stores on December 15th, just in time for the holidays. The 4K release is the one you should be seeking out if you have the correct setup. The special effects, IMAX photography, and stunts beg to be seen on the cleanest set up you can muster. I absolutely recommend the 4K over other versions.
The special features are on their own separate Blu-ray disc; this disc comes with the Blu-ray combo pack as well as the 4K Blu-ray combo pack. There is only one element attached to the disc.
Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of Tenet – An hour-long exploration of the development and production of the film as told by the cast and crew.
- The Principle of Belief
- Mobilizing the Troupe
- The Approach
- The Proving Window
- The Roadmap
- Entropy in Action
- Traversing the Globe
- How Big a Plane?
- The Dress Code
- Constructing the Twilight World
- The Final Battle
- Doesn’t Us Being Here Now Mean It Never Happened?
Running Time: 151 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language