George Clark’s review published on Letterboxd:
NON SPOILER REVIEW
Tenet is a 2020 spy/thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan and stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. The story follows secret agent who must manipulate time in order to prevent World War III. Writing a detailed review for this film is extremely challenging so a spoiler review for Tenet will be coming once it’s released worldwide in the coming weeks.
The long wait for Tenet is finally over! Nolan’s newest blockbuster has finally been released in the UK and there’s only one word that can accurately describe it… Epic. There’s no doubt about it that this is probably Nolan’s most Nolan film and for that it ups the stakes to the point where total world annihilation is on the cards, and after the antics of Nolan’s previous work this feels like the only possible way to up the wow factor and for me that worked incredibly well and you’re heart is left genuinely pounding for the majority of the film.
The mixed reviews for this film got me extremely worried (along with many other people I know) and I must say all that negative buzz is totally bollocks. The fact some reviews complain about the lack of humour is odd, what were they expecting? This serious spy film about world annihilation to actually turn out to be a secret underlying comedy? Completely bonkers, so because of this, many of the negative reviews of this film really aren’t justified as there’s no doubt this is probably the action spectacle of the year. Whilst I do agree that the film lacks a bit of humour that’s not what I expected so therefore I wasn’t disappointed that it was lacking in that area.
As for the storyline, it’s extremely hard to go into detail without giving away any spoilers but you will definitely be confused for the first half, I certainly was, however, after that everything adds up and you begin to realise what’s actually going on and that hit me like a bus as I quickly began to realise that’s what Nolan intended. For a film to do that, leave my heart pounding and me with a loss of breath through the final half was exactly what I wanted from this film and that’s what I got.
On the character side, not many characters are given a much backstory but like the storyline, this is soon unravelled to be part of the plot and that worked so efficiently I forgot all of my previous thoughts and judgments and was left stunned with the final execution. Now, performances wise this film is up there with some of Nolan’s best. John David Washington is terrific as the lead and works so well with his co stars, Robert Pattinson is incredible and the mystery that surrounds his character intrigued me and Elizabeth Debicki was also great. Now I could go on and on about each performance but Kenneth Branagh, Aaron Taylor Johnson and the small cameo from Michael Caine all worked wonders for me along with every other performance being executed well as well.
Now of course there’s a few downsides to Tenet. The storyline is incredibly confusing for the first half of the film and the quick transitions from scene to scene were all the more jagged as it didn’t give the audience much time to take in what they had just seen. However, apart from that, this absolute action spectacle lived up to the hype, nearly the entire 150 minute runtime was meaningful and that, for me, was incredible to watch yet, in some places, it did leave me wanting more development in the storyline as there seems to be a few integral character development scenes cut from the final product and that did slightly disappoint me as whilst the actors did a good job and the characters were interesting, they did lack some development.
"Don't try to understand it. Feel it."
All in all, Tenet proved to be an absolutely incredible film and easily one of, if not the best, film of 2020 thus far. The cinematography was phenomenal, acting superb and the dialogue/scenes incredibly intense throughout. This might not be Nolan’s best work but it’s definitely the one that feels the most like him and for that I can only applaud the shear scale and ambition of Tenet and whilst it can be confusing at times, it’s definitely a film that requires multiple rewatches to understand fully as its quintessentially Inception and Memento rolled into one incredible spectacle. Whilst the film can ultimately lack emotion at times, there’s no doubt that if you like action spectacles then this if the film for you.
!NEES EB OT SEVRESED TENET