Tenet

Tenet ★★★★

Tenet is the latest gargantuan blockbuster spectacle from Christopher Nolan, and in all honesty while its one of the weaker Nolan outings, this film is still pretty great. The action set pieces were superb. There were many points where I was in pure awe of what was unfolding in front of my eyes. The hand to hand combat scenes are great but the huge moments such as the airport sequence, the highway sequence, and the finale are insane to look at. The reverse fight scenes are pretty insane as well and it feels fresh, its clear a lot of effort went into the stunt work of the film and that the cast and crew were giving it their all. The visual style of the film is great, you can always count on Hoyte Van Hoytema for excellent cinematography. The film looks very sleek and clean, almost shiny and this aesthetic fits well with the international espionage story. This was shot on gorgeous 70mm Imax film and when seen in Imax the film is a treat to watch. The acting is fairly solid. John David Washington’s performance is great and while not his best, it’s still great, his back and forth banter with Robert Pattinson’s character Neil is great and Pattinson’s fun and suave performance did steal the show at points. Kenneth Branagh’s villainous Sator is decent, and definitely, the best thing he’s done this year (the other being the garbage that was the Artemis Fowl movie), at points he did feel a little too cartoony and generic as well as the fact that his accent was a little inconsistent. Elizabeth Debicki's character Kat is well acted but the chemistry between her and John David Washington was nonexistent. The other supporting cast including Himesh Patel, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Dimple Kapadia all did a good job.


However, the plot is a bit messy and a little all over the place. One very apparent thing is that Nolan isn't too good at writing female characters, other than one or two all of his female characters have all felt the same and lack any real depth and character. They feel more like plot devices instead of people. Some of the editing was a little weird and the film does a mediocre job at actually explaining the main concepts of the film. One of the biggest and most damaging aspects of the film is the sound mixing. Nolan is known for making pretty loud and booming films but this takes it to a new level to the point where it becomes annoying and self-indulgent. I saw this in Imax and throughout the whole runtime, the bass ridden film kept the cinema practically shaking throughout. At some points, the film just got too loud where it almost became borderline migraine-inducing. On top of this, the heavy score and sound effects basically drown out the dialogue making it impossible to understand what the characters were saying. This is very detrimental to a fairly cerebral film like Tenet which demands the audience listens and understands every bit of dialogue, especially when they are explaining some heavy concepts. I would say roughly 40% of the key dialogue is essentially inaudible to the audience, which makes an already somewhat scattered film even more confusing. Last but not least, I found Tenet's emotional core, which revolved around Kat, to feel somewhat insincere. This aspect felt somewhat shoved in and didn't have much heart, especially compared to the other spectacle works by Nolan like Interstellar and Inception.

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