Tenet

Tenet ★★★

"You are inverted. The world is not."

I backed out of the parking space and drove like that all the way home.

Also, I wrote this review already. Later tonight. But I'm posting it now. I'll post another one yesterday, the one I wrote tomorrow.

Got it?

Tenet is completely and incomprehensibly full of amazement.

Like, literally. It is a complete incomprehension, and happens to look amazing too. Or, to use a sexist metaphor… she's real purty, but I'll be damned if anybody's got 'er figured out.

Recall, Christopher Nolan has been doing this for years. I remembered a headline which was later changed about a movie a decade ago: "Are You Too Stupid for Inception?" And even the (quite a bit better) Interstellar is praised and derided still today.

But good lord, the man really outdid himself here with this profoundly beautiful disaster. A light speed trainwreck, a high octane nuclear bomb, colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Words that go together but make absolutely no sense.

There is ZERO point in recapping any plot. There both is none and there also is the most plot of any movie ever made. It's utterly unsummarizable, and yet you could talk about it for longer than the runtime of the film and still only be halfway through. You thought there were nonsensical time paradoxes in Terminator 2 and Back to the Future? They don't have shit on Tenet.

No, I won't spill anything, I promise. But I will air my grievances and also my praise.

Again, this is a complete mess of a story that purposefully tries to trick and deceive you. That can be fun! You remember how you felt the first time you saw Inception. Now recall that, but made it dumb. Well, no, I kid a little. Nothing here is dumb, just unwise. Nolan fucks with your mind in ways no one has tried before, and a lot of it does not work, my friends. Simultaneously far too long and still also much too short, Tenet blazes through abstract exposition and cares not for your wherewithal. Scenes and set pieces fly by in moments, not allowing you to catch a breath. Jennifer Lame's editing is both the most incredible I've ever seen and also a mismatch of cuts and jumps -- minutes, days, who cares? -- signifying nothing.

Ludwig Göransson's bass-throbbing score and Richard King's cacophonous sound design combine into complete sensory overload, in what was unquestionably the loudest movie I have ever seen in a theatre. You may need the earplugs your mom told you to wear to that Metallica concert years ago. But damn the dialogue and script, because you'll hope you bought tickets for the closed captioned show when you realize you cannot understand at least a third of what any actor is saying. Aren't we all getting better at that, wearing masks all the time? Well you'd better be, because evmmerryymshuonemmphshmmounnndsmmliketphhmmisssh for a lot of this movie.

Got it? Nope? Too fucking bad, we are on to the next scene and you have totally forgotten that character's name.

But this was still a bewilderingly fun time, when I could hear myself think to process what was on screen. Thunderous eardrum-rupturing explosions and pulverizing ass-blasting gunfire rage through the cinema with reckless abandon. Come for the sci-fi wizardry, stay for stuff gettin' blowed up real good, y'all.

It's easily Christopher Nolan's worst movie but also the first one I can't wait to see in a theatre again. I'll see you there yesterday.

Added to Christopher Nolan ranked.
Added to The Narrative Films of 2020, ranked.
Added to 2021 Academy Awards nominees, ranked.

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