Tenet

Tenet ★★★

More than happy to confirm the hype around this, sort of. It's the most 'Nolan' of any of Nolan's films, and also the messiest - massive, expensive, loud, and incredibly self indulgent. It's the kind of movie that you'd need to see in the biggest cinema possible, which is a cliche for Nolan films at this point, but it's obvious that he's catering for 70-foot IMAX screens and booming speakers, not TV screens and miniature sound systems. This was a project that cost more than 200 million dollars, and, like I said, it feels expensive. The setpieces are consistently huge - maybe not as grand as some of the biggest moments in The Dark Knight Rises or as visually interesting as Inception - but everything has this sense of weight and scale to it, there's an energy and momentum to the plot that feels distinctly Nolan. It's not going to change anyone's mind about the director, either. The scale of the story is bigger, more ambitious, but so are all of the little eccentricities in his writing style. The plot becomes more and more dense as it moves along, until a point where you inevitably miss an important line of exposition or a detail in an action sequence and lose track, which doesn't end up being too important with a climax this huge and dense and difficult to follow. It lives up to the style of his other concept-heavy films, sort of expanding and eventually collapsing under its own weight. It might even be his most convoluted, and the one which is trying the hardest to seem confusing. And there's a sense of fun in that. The time-travel mechanic, which isn't really time travel, is almost airtight, and the ideas being played with are fascinating - the energy of the whole thing is so endearing and infectious despite not making much sense. He's fantastic at taking an original concept and inflating it to the point where it feels much bigger than it actually is. The central mechanic behind this is already an incredible idea, but it's obvious Nolan wants you to *feel* the story, not understand it. His forte isn't really in the way a plot flows or the way a character behaves, it's in the visuals of his work, the spectacle and excitement that comes from the racing pace and quick editing of his films. And the gimmick of this film isn't just a feeling or concept, it's also pretty impressive as a visual experience. Because of that, it does end up feeling like a small piece of a larger story. Almost a bit short despite the runtime, and massively underdeveloped - which makes sense for a story with a scope this wide - but there's a bit of disappointment in not seeing any of those ideas really completed or thought-through. Inception would have been an influence in more than just the setting and tone, and there's a pretty interesting point to be made about the subtext between the two. They both end up using their central mechanic as a reference to their audience and the act of telling a story - in the case of Inception, it's the dream mechanic and the role of the architect in designing those locations, while Tenet uses a form of time-travel to comment on exposition. It's also interesting how one subverts the heist genre while the other plays on the tropes of spy and espionage films. That kind of meta-subtext is clearly a lot less important to Tenet than it is to Inception, and it's definitely not as interesting or well developed, but the idea itself remains pretty unique. Nonsense, messy, high-concept blockbusters haven't really been this much fun since the last time a Nolan film opened in theatres.

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