john’s review published on Letterboxd:
The summer blockbuster season is usually the most exciting time of the year for moviegoers, this is when the films of our time are these big and loud spectacles, mostly the films releasing are sequels to franchises or remakes of classic films. However, very rarely do we see a new franchise on the rise or the big tentpole film that will make its way to the Academy Awards season. The biggest name in the blockbuster market is none other than auteur filmmaker Christopher Nolan. The film was planned to be released in July, but was pushed to August due to COVID-19. Nolan, being a big fan of the cinema experience, did as much as he could for audiences to see his latest film, Tenet. The film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debecki, and Kenneth Branagh, and tells the story of “The Protagonist” (Washington) as he is trying to stop the world from nuclear annihilation and it's up to him and his partner Neil (Pattinson) to stop it while a strange phenomenon known as “inversion” is messing with their operation.
Nolan again uses his love for time and places it at the forefront of the film. Which would only make sense due to one of his films, Inception, turns ten years old this year. The film acts as a combination of a James Bond-esque action spy thriller and a time travel heist film. Nolan is a man known for taking risks for his blockbusters, and once again he swings for the fences and slams it out of the park. Nolan has created a blockbuster that fans of his and moviegoers will be discussing for years to come. Personally, this is in my top three favorite Christopher Nolan films. Like all of his other films, Nolan is big on spectacle. He loves big and audacious action set pieces and wants them all to be practically done rather than have it be computer animated. The action in this film is jaw-dropping, every fight scene and car chase is intense and keeps your blood pumping. When the “inversion” scenes take place and time is moving backwards, it is a sight to behold. The cinematography and camera work are some of the best Nolan has done. On a technical level, Nolan has perfected himself here. The editing in the film is finely tuned and does not feel choppy. This is unlike anything Nolan has created in his years in the filmmaking game. The plot, while complex and confusing at first, is bold and inventive. It is a mystery that you want to unravel. The characters, while emotionally inept, are written well. Sure, we know nothing about “The Protagonist” (yes his name is seriously The Protagonist) but that feels very reminiscent of James Bond. We know nothing about the classic 007 spy, yet we want him to succeed. The chemistry between John David Washington and Robert Pattinson work perfectly with one another. The performances here are all well done, especially Washington and Elizabeth Debecki. The film drops you right in this world with no introduction or anything, it is Nolan at his lesser hand holding, making it feel like Michael Mann’s Miami Vice. The score by Ludwig Goransson is some of the best blockbuster scores in the past five years, it truly is phenomenal. I seriously hope Nolan lets Goransson compose scores for future projects and let fellow collaborator, Hans Zimmer, sit on the sidelines for a brief while. Recently, Christopher Nolan has been taking a more non-linear approach to storytelling especially in blockbusters. This is shown not only in this film but in his previous war film, Dunkirk, and his space drama, Interstellar. I think this is going to be the start of Nolan being less accessible with his storytelling and allow the audience to follow along by themselves rather than have a character explain. Which I think is a beautiful thing and gutsy for a filmmaker like Christopher Nolan.
TENET truly was worth the wait and anticipation, it is a big and loud spectacle while also being a bold and inventive sci-fi action spy thriller. It’s original concept is something film lovers do not see nowadays and something we should not take for granted. They do not make them like Christopher Nolan does and his latest is a perfect example of that.