Tenet ½

Secret agent struggles to save the world from bad guys and bad things that fight backwards!

This is the kind of movie you'd get if you asked a toddler what superpower the evildoers should have, then gave it to a big-name director to convulse it into a watchable format, and drove up a truckload of money to produce it. I hated Inception and hoped dearly for some kind of redemption, but this was so much worse than anticipated.

Only Nolan knows what he's trying to say, the plot creates and people speak preposterous things, but rather than making a minimum effort to explain itself within its own desperate attempt at realism, it just plunges on as if this is Narnia, Oz, or some other magical place - except he can't even make it work within the world he created! It's so deeply complex and convoluted that even with its hasty exposition everything appears to be a massive plot hole or established rules violation. If Branagh had to read the script a dozen times to make sense of it, how is an audience expected to get it on the first try?

Dialogue breezes by without pacing, jumping from one random connection to the next, expecting the audience to be as well-versed on first viewing as Nolan is after years of filmmaking. I had no idea who cameo-Caine was, nothing made sense about the red/blue team fiasco, something about a forged painting, what were they trying to prevent, and who were the bad guys?

Our hero, lazily named "The Protagonist," had absolutely no depth. We learn more about the alleged villain, whose rationale is abruptly made up out of whole cloth ten minutes before the credits, than we do about any of the good guys. We couldn't figure out who anybody was as they frolicked amid sets that seemed to exclusively consist of luxurious and wealthy condos, boats, and restaurants.

The backwards effects created action scenes that were abstract nonsense. It watched like badly edited YouTube video of spliced-together reverse film - incoherent. Sequences were impossible to follow, much less explain.

I have never been left more lost in the woods with any film as I have with Tenet. Even Donnie Darko was more coherent, or at least allowed me to try tying things together. A nonsensical, insultingly childish, pretentious, farcical, inconsistent house of cards masquerading as intellectual enigma.

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