Cam!’s review published on Letterboxd:
Rarely do we see films of this scale and it's a miracle that Nolan is one of the few directors whose work always feels like an event. This is easily among his best but not without its detractions here and there yet it never manages to outweigh the tremendous highs throughout.
The cast were brilliant with Washington taking command from the moment he opens on screen until his final scene, channeling an agent determined to ensure the safety of his colleagues and that of the entire world. Pattinson, arguably the heart of the film, makes a great accompaniment to Washington with the pair having great chemistry on screen, his character providing a playful counter to Washington's seriousness yet also willing to take matters into his own hands. DeBicki delivered a great performance, as always, and provide enough emotional weight to heighten the film's stakes. Hearing Branagh was gonna be a Russian national had me a tad worried, in light of his questionable role in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, but he proved me wrong with a chilling performance that never not makes you shiver when on-screen.
It's hard to discuss the story without spoilers but all I'll say is that the concept at the heart of 'Tenet' is astoundingly realised, giving enough clues to piece together events as they unfold with only a few leftovers up for questioning. The sheer scale of the film makes the stakes feel impossibly large and seeing how the story unfolds never lets you breath whilst in its tight grip. Easily has some of Nolan's best set-pieces, some of which left me mind-boggled as to how they accomplished them, and it's incredibly inspiring to see how concept and realisation come together so seamlessly. The action and drama is lensed with signature prowess by Hoytema, showing he has yet to reach the height of his power, and Göransson's score tremendously compliments the story's intensity and psychedelic nature.
The film struggles to find footing in the first twenty minutes or so, acting more as a crash course introduction to the mechanics of the world and the stakes at hand but it never lets up after that with it's pacing and story becoming tightly wound until its conclusion. The characters function more as a vehicle for the film's concepts rather than for emotion and humanity which can easily be seen as one of the biggest detractors of the film, but personally I think when you take the film as a whole, it makes sense since they are pieces of a puzzle that are destined to be together and remain interlinked after removal, demonstrating that they know more than we ever will and that their connection doesn't need much spoken. It's very much a concept film, a playground for ideas and images, and that's not a bad thing when it's committed to that approach.
Despite it's obvious flaws, including a sound mix in desperate need of reworking for the sake of dialogue, it is certainly one of the most ambitious and audacious films in recent years that commits to a cold and calculated deep dive into time manipulation and how that technology could change the face of espionage. With brilliant and grounded performances, tight direction and pacing, astounding setpieces and cinematography with an electrifying score, this is one of the most bold blockbusters in years. It's a rarity to see a film realised with such grandeur, especially now as we face an uncertain film production landscape post-COVID, and I hope we don't stop seeing such miracles as this being made and shown to the world.