Tenet ★★★★★

Christopher Nolan Delivers The Goods Once Again With Another Mind Bending Action Spectacle 

If there is any film director that heavily influenced me to delve into film and to be a film critic, it is none other than Christopher Nolan. I was about thirteen when I watched films like The Dark Knight and Inception for the first time and since then I have never looked at films the same way. The way Nolan helms each of his projects is unlike any other filmmaker, he brings this incredible sense of authenticity and intelligence to his films that has not been matched since Stanley Kubrick in my opinion. Each of his films, in their own way, challenges its audience to peal back each layer and really dissect everything happening on screen. His films are the kind that demand to be broken down and analyzed which are honestly my favorite kinds of films. That is why I have loved every single one of his films and have yet to see one that is undeserving of an A-A+ grade (yes, even The Dark Knight Rises). Interstellar was a film that truly stuck with me after my first viewing in the theater and to this day I still love the way it challenged everyone that saw it. The same can even be said about Dunkirk, that film is unlike another war film out there due to how brilliantly it captures the intense rawness of being on the battlefield. Nolan is not your traditional filmmaker and every time he steps behind the camera it is like a cinematic event which very few film directors can pull off. Every time this man releases a film I find myself truly excited out of my mind, and for this film it was no different. When it comes to the year 2020, I was unsure what film I was looking forward to the most especially because 2019 was kind of a peak year for film. That changed after I saw a five minute IMAX prologue for the new Christopher Nolan film about espionage and time inversion. Instantly this film became my most anticipated of the entire year, like if I had the choice to only see one film in 2020, it would be this one. However, I did not count on a global pandemic bringing the film industry to its knees with many highly anticipated films being pulled from their release schedule. There was a lot of doubt that this film would even come out, but somehow theaters have begun to reopen and now Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros are going all out for this film, which I could not be more thankful for. Tenet is a sci-fi action film from director Christopher Nolan and tells the story of a protagonist (John David Washington) armed with one word, Tenet, as journeys through a world of espionage on a mission that unfolds into something that might be beyond real time. This is a very vague plot synopsis but that’s because there was not a ton of information regarding the plot. Like a lot of his films, Nolan made these trailers as vague as possible so this is definitely a film that one must see with as much of a blind eye as possible. I gratefully had the opportunity to attend an early access screening for this film in IMAX which was such an incredible experience being back in an IMAX theater. So this is one of the earliest times I have gotten to see a new film and with this being my most anticipated film of the year you know my hype level was through the roof. I legitimately hadn’t been this excited about a film since Avengers: Endgame, I have been absolutely dying to see this film ever since seeing that prologue. My favorite genre of film is action and I have always wanted to see Nolan bring his vision to that genre. One could argue he did that with Inception and The Dark Knight films, but this is like straight up action/espionage with a time inversion twist to it. Right off the bat I will address the elephant in the room, this film is going to divide the crowd. Like a lot of Nolan’s recent films, some people are going to hail this as a masterpiece while others will find it way too confusing and distant. This a trend I have been seeing with a lot of Nolan’s recent films, specifically Interstellar. In fact when I started seeing reviews for this film, it reminded of a lot of the reactions people had to Interstellar. Visually masterful, but a story that gets lost in Nolan trying too hard to blow your mind. Well that is my opposite reaction, I loved Interstellar upon first viewing and I absolutely loved Tenet. This film was legitimately epic, it truly has been a long time since I had been that on the edge of my seat. Maybe it was because I had not seen a film in IMAX since March but this film truly did blow me away. As someone who adores all things action filmmaking, this film was truly unlike anything I had ever seen before. A world of international espionage with time inversion thrown in the mix is a concept that intrigued me from the trailers and completely blew my mind in the film. From the opening sequence alone, the film just hits you like a hurricane and immediately get taken into this intense visceral experience that left me breathless. Seeing the film in IMAX definitely helped quite a bit because the grand scope of this film is truly incredible, like to say that this film is visually impressive is almost a cliche for a Nolan film. But it has to be said here, Tenet is visual perfection in just about every way. My eyes were glued to the screen with awe at how immaculate each frame was. Very few directors can earn the title of visual master and Nolan is one of them, dare I say he is the greatest visual filmmaker of this generation. That is often a problem people have with Nolan is that he can come as a visual over substance director. I have never once got that feeling from him, in fact I love the way he uses his visuals as a way to further flesh out each of his stories. To me the story in this film was highly intriguing and the visuals never once took me away from that. Like I said, I love action/espionage, especially when it is done right and this film was done just right for me. The film in a way kind of reminded me of like a nineties spy action film with its story, except this time around there is a bit more sci-fi thrown in the mix. Nolan once again is playing with the concept of time in this film, with inversion being the main focus this time around. The science around it really captivated me and it kind of makes me want to look more into inversion and the possibility of reversing the flow of time. There is a bit of an underlying theme I caught in the film which deals with how one might chose to handle time if it were in their hands. Some people might see that differently but that is the way I interpreted this film by the end and it made the film all the more satisfying to me. I will just go ahead and say it, this film has some of the most epic action sequences I have seen in a film since Mad Max: Fury Road. Like I was having legitimate fanboy moments because of how incredible these action sequences were. The way Nolan uses the time inversion throughout these action sequences took my breath away. Once you start to piece certain things together within the sequences it will make it all the more satisfying.  I can see future action films trying to mimic Tenet in ways that The Matrix was copied off of for many years. There is one fight scene in particular involving two people that stands out and is one of my favorite moments ever in a Nolan film, like almost on par with the hallway fight sequence in Inception. As for the characters and acting I found it to be solid all around, with the standout easily being John David Washington. I remember seeing him in BlacKkKlansman and thinking he would be going places, and this film might just be his true star making performance. I love this protagonist character he plays, such a mysterious yet completely smooth presence that is there to get the job done no matter what the cost. I dug the fact that you barely get to know anything about him even down to him not having a name. It is all about the intrigue and this character had me from the beginning. I guarantee that one day we will be talking about John David Washington in the same way we now talk about Denzel (his father) and this is definitely the best I have seen from him thus far. If anyone in this film has the most characterization, it is Elizabeth Debicki as the wife to the main villain of the film. She is a bit of a wild card in this whole thing but overall I did like her performance quite a bit, especially considering what this character goes through for the majority of the film. Robert Pattinson plays a character similar to Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt) in Inception and I found him very awesome in this film. It is crazy to think that I would be talking about Edward from Twilight being great in a Christopher Nolan film, and now the guy is playing Batman for goodness sakes. Strangely, the biggest surprise for me in this entire film was Kenneth Branagh as the antagonist of the film, he was really good here and very menacing at times. He is sort of what brings out that nineties action movie vibe in the film and he is definitely one of the chew the scenery kinds of villains, but I was ok with that. In a way he is playing a more over the top version of his villain character from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. He stands out especially because other than in The Dark Knight films, there aren’t that many memorable antagonists in Nolan’s films (except maybe Dr. Mann from Interstellar). It was a role I wasn’t expecting to get as much out of as I did and I really thought Branagh did an excellent job. There are a few other notable actors that pop up throughout the film, like Himesh Patel from last years Yesterday, it is great to see him getting some work. A Nolan film wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Sir Michael Caine and of course we see him for a small bit. As I already mentioned, the visuals are absolutely stunning and that is further brought out by excellent cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema, or as I call him the new Wally Pfister. This man continues to prove he is a masterful cinematographer and this is some of his finest work to date. One thing that had me really worried about this film was the fact that Hans Zimmer, who has composed most all of Nolan’s films, wasn’t doing the musical score for this film because he was working on Dune. Luckily, Nolan got Creed and Black Panther composer, Ludwig Göransson, to compose the musical score for this film and it is absolutely euphoric and just as epic as Nolan’s other film scores. It is pulse pounding composition that adds to the intense feel presented throughout the entire film. Göransson is becoming on of the best film composers out there, in fact I would say he has absolutely reached that level for me and has yet to compose a less than stellar musical score. Due to how invested I was in the overall film, I never once felt the extensive two and a half hour runtime of film. This is one of those films that barely gives you a second to breathe, action sequence or not, and for that reason it seemed to really fly by. Now is this the best film Nolan has ever made in his life, absolutely not. It definitely would not hit top five for me, but in years to come I could see it reaching that level. There are people out there who are definitely going to have issues with this film and I am not blind to them at all. I have heard many people say that the film is hard to understand at times due to how loud the film gets to the point where it overpowers the dialogue. If I am being honest I was never bothered by that, there are few times where I did not quite get what the characters were saying but I eventually caught on. Is the film confusing at times, one hundred percent, in fact I would say that there is a lot I still do not understand. Like the sound issues though, I was not bothered one bit because this is a film I know is going to be on my mind for a long time. It will be constantly on my mind as I try and dissect every little frame of the film. Like I am willing to go back to a theater to see the film again to see what all I might have missed the first time. I just have this feeling that I am gonna constantly what to delve deeper into the world that this film presents with multiple views, it will definitely be a day one blu-ray purchase for me. Those to me are the best kinds of films, the ones that beg to be analyzed and demand repeat viewings. That is why all of Nolan’s films have resonated with me and that is why I believe this is a film I am going to remember for the rest of my life. In the end, I got everything out of Tenet that I was hoping for, it was my most anticipated film of 2020 it did not disappoint me at all. From an action and visual standpoint the film is legitimately perfect and I was very intrigued by the world Nolan presented in this film. John David Washington as the protagonist was truly awesome and Ludwig Göransson did an incredible job with the score. Sure, there are confusing elements in the film but that is something I am use to with a Nolan film.  With it being confusing it makes me want to delve deeper into it and analyze it with multiple viewings (maybe not in the theater right now multiple times but definitely on blu-ray). This film is an absolute must see for Christopher Nolan fans, it will definitely divide the crowd but in my opinion this is another crowning achievement that Nolan can add to his catalog. Tenet is an incredible action spectacle that will absolutely be remembered as one of the best films of the entire year. A+

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