Tenet

Tenet ★★★

First of all, what the FUCK was up with the sound!? The film was so bloody loud the fire alarm could have gone off and we would have sat there cooking until it was too late. What's more, the dialogue was still annoyingly hard to decipher at some points. I don't know if that was a result of the film itself or the cinema or the ringing in my skull but that definitely tainted my experience a lot and left me with a bad taste at the end of the movie. This is definitely not helping Mr Nolan's case that we need to watch this in theaters.

For the first point: I think this film has a complexity problem (aided by the indecipherable dialogue). It's like Christopher Nolan wanted to make the most convoluted plot in existence but forgot to add any actual characters (I'll get to that) or have some meaningful element, such as a developing relationship or conflict, that I could at least follow through with. I don't like to admit when I don't "understand" a movie because it makes me feel dumb but all 4 of the people I watched this film with could not properly explain anything that was happening. That's a bit disappointing when you consider that Nolan's films usually reach this perfect balance between complexity and comprehensibility all while telling a genuine human story within them. And that brings me to a new point:

TENET's characters are also shockingly one-dimensional. Now, this may sound a bit rich coming from me, a guy who gave Dunkirk 5 stars, but let me explain. Dunkirk, despite the lack of "characters" or interesting relationships, still manages to tell a butt-clenchingly tense, compelling plot of real historical events. It elicited a genuinely strong emotional reaction from me as a viewer. Dunkirk deepened my understanding of war, of national identity, of sacrifice. It made me understand the horror and desperation that the soldiers faced on those very beaches. TENET has no themes or ideas that you can draw real-world comparisons to. There are no relationships I am invested in and care about, I haven't gained an insight into other people's lives because of this movie. It kind of exists in a bubble of its own, not really feeling significant in any way even though it clearly wants to. It doesn't have anything that sticks in my mind for longer than 10 minutes after watching (except maybe some action moments). I didn't feel anything from it other than the earth-shaking vibrations all around me and blood dripping from my ears.

TENET also has a SCALE problem. It's too big for its own good. That "Preventing WW3" line in the trailer already made me cringe, but the scale just gets uncontrollably bigger. This time-travel thing could have worked better in a heist film rather than a superhero film. Inception is a great example from Nolan himself that uses a relatively complicated plot device for something more personal and much smaller in scale.

Look, maybe I need to rewatch this with subtitles, at home, but I have a hard time making myself want to. I liked this film as it was, the action set pieces were great fun (when I covered my ears) and I somehow felt engaged all throughout the runtime, so there's that, but was my viewing of TENET worth risking my life in a public space? I have difficulty saying yes.

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