Katie’s review published on Letterboxd:
This did not work for me, and there’s a really simple reason why.
I have to use Inception as a comparison point, which I know isn’t entirely fair, but it’s a bit difficult not to in this regard. The reason Inception works is because there’s a clear learning structure for the audience. DiCaprio’s Dom has his job, he has his personal trauma, he teaches his team in order to teach the audience, each team member has their own personality and vibe, Dom’s personal trauma plays a large part in the denouement, everything ends clearly and excitingly.
In Tenet, John David Washington is dropped into a situation he has no clue about and the assumption is that we’re going to learn with him. But instead the first hour of the film just has him flitting about different countries and meeting random people with no personality that hand him exposition on a silver platter. He has no personality. He has no personal stake. The audience just has to go along with what seem to be conveniences because there’s no explanation for why he does these things beyond being told “hey, go talk to this person, they’ll send you to Point B/C/D”. He somehow just shows up, says exactly the right thing despite being mostly in the dark lore wise, and the situation continues perfectly every time. And it’s the most convoluted and really uninteresting justification for why this fancy sci-fi gimmick exists beyond “I’m Christopher Nolan and I have the budget to do this shit”.
Genuinely one of the worst big scripts I’ve seen in a very long time. The film made me feel like a dumb bitch because of how much convoluted plot was thrown at me. If you paused the film at literally any point and asked me to explain why they were doing what they were doing, I don’t think I’d be able to give you an answer. And boy I was trying so hard to understand.
Bonus complaint: look out for how many times Elizabeth Debicki picks up and puts down her drink the first time we meet her and the very obvious dubbing of a minor character at the airport. Editing is really choppy and bad in the first act.
... soundtrack is great though.