Luke_Hardy’s review published on Letterboxd:
I SAW AN ADVANCE SCREENING OF TENET AND I WILL BE ANSWERING SOME QUESTIONS I THOUGHT OF BEFORE I SAW IT. MAYBE YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW THE ANSWERS.
How is it?
How’s the spectacle?
Amazing! It’s interesting to see not only how the CGI melds with the practical, but also how it will age. After seeing Inception last week, you could barely tell what was CG and what wasn’t, or even how they pulled a lot of the CGI off, so I imagine this’ll look the same, and for now it does! I cannot tell you with full confidence what was done in a computer and what was practical, and since most of it was done in (65mm) camera, it was all astonishing! Every explosion hits, every plane hits! On a big screen with (way too) loud speakers, it’s all astounding to watch. Hoyte van Hoytema captures it beautifully too. He’s probably becoming one of my favourite modern cinematographers.
How’re the characters?
Of course you’d never have a Taxi Driver level character study of a man named The Protagonist, but then this isn’t that kind of movie. The dramatic core is mainly Kat (Debicki) and how she is controlled by Sator (Branagh, who hams it up wonderfully). The main thing to keep in mind with Tenet is that it’s Nolan’s Bond movie. The villain is over the top and weakly motivation to the point of being crazy, but it works if you take into account the tone it’s going for. The sillier elements never clash too hard with the tone like The Dark Knight Rises because how tempered and established they were. It’s stupid when Batman shoots bat shaped blow darts in TDKR but the weird time stuff is treated seriously enough to care and not seriously enough so you don’t feel like you’re watching a lecture. But back to the characters, in a sense they’re charisma machines made for question the ethics and logistics of the scenario, but I’m glad they had... like... some desire. I actually gave a shit for The Protagonist, here forth Bob Tenet, Kat, and Neil. Even Aaron Taylor-Johnson as ‘Ives’ was pretty good, and I couldn’t make out a word he said! Not great, (also: it is, at best, a bit weird that an entire character [Kat’s son] with tremendous emotional stakes, has one line.) but boy the tension!
How’s the editing?
I’ve never loved Nolan’s editing. His worst culprits are Insomnia & his first film with usual editor editor Lee Pace, Batman Begins, but his editing got more competent with The Prestige and especially with TDK, which could be attributed his work with IMAX, although it could just be getting more comfortable with Smith. However, Smith didn’t work on this film, as he was replaced by Jennifer Lame, who has been Noah Baumbach’s main since 2012, as well as Manchester by the Sea, and Hereditary. Overall, it’s surprising to see how little has changed in this department. I’m mainly impressed by how long a lot of the takes were held. A lot of Lee Smiths work with Nolan could be called choppy and, while Tenet definitely has some short cuts, nothing’s as bad as fuckin’ Insomnia. In fact, I would call a lot of this good! It’s so good that I’m struggling to find positive aspects, let alone any aspects to say about it! Yeah that sounds like an insult, but it’s probably a sign that the film flows really well. There’s never a moment, especially in the 3rd act, where I’m taken out of the film entirely. It’s a damn smooth flow.
How’s the score?
Similar to Lame’s replacement of Smith, Ludwig Göransson is a new comer to Nolan, replacing the legendary Hans Zimmer. Much like Lame’s editing, I was surprised to see how little had changed, including the quality! I love the switch to primarily electronic work, the synthesised ticking, the soaring drones, every move Göransson makes is exhilarating. Despite being mixed too loud in some scenes, the intensity added by his presence is off the walls!
How does this fit in with Nolan’s other work?
It’s an interesting extension to Nolan’s love for the spy genre, specifically the James Bond franchise. If anything , I’ll be interested to see how No Time to Die compares. Nolan’s use of time is especially interesting. Since he’s always been interested by time and how to communicate it through editing, cutting together different stories from forwards, backwards and even the same place in the time line. With Inception, Interstellar & Dunkirk manipulating time and It’s speed, it makes sense that Nolan would continue that here. In previous films, Bruce Wayne would thin about his childhood, but, similar to Inception, characters can now look across a room to see their own lives unfold in front of them, but now they see them fold up because of how because of the inversion. I really can’t describe it. Everything is so indescribable about this film, it’s a mind fuck in many respects, and I’m glad Nolan keeps thinking outside of the box like this. If I were to rank it, it might be better than Inception? Just a tad better, though. I should say I’m not quite sure where it will stands, so I made a Nolan ranked list if you wanna see where I’ve decided to put it today. I need to see it again.
Go see it if you feel safe. It’s an experience that I will see again when it hits a wide release, and when an IMAX cinema opens in Australia. Also: I made a joke that Robert Pattinson in Tenet was going to be my sexual awakening on Twitter a few months ago. I mean, I was right, but I really underestimated John David Washington. Also, a pretty good, if surprising and maybe a little out of place (although not too much so) Travis Scott song for the credits. I was as surprised when I heard it as you were when you might’ve heard about it. Any who, see it. You will anyway, but know from me that it’s very good. Good night and good luck, friend!