Tenet ★½

TENET (Christopher Nolan, USA, 2020) 3

Gotta go with my gut on this and say that I simply didn’t enjoy watching TENET and could hardly follow it, between the muffled dialog and the overloud and weirdly-mixed score, on the one hand, and how, on the other, Nolan’s usually knotty plot is made unintelligible by its logical impossibility and its dependence on the kind of hard sci-fi conventions in which I am almost completely uninterested.

That said, the action sequences are spectacular (car chase FTW!) and I was intrigued by what I'll just call "the first fight in FIGHT CLUB fight." And there are moments, some in re the film's one human-scale relationship, where TENET threatens some heft, something like Lenny's existential willing or Angier's deathly obsession with Borden's trick. And Nolan shows definitively that he could make a great James Bond film (and that is, ultimately, what TENET could have been with a more modest script).

But I can’t improve on Alex Dowd calling TENET the film that Nolan’s haters have always accused him of making — a contraption containing nothing but its own cleverness. Nolan could learn from the Bond films and their villain's schemes. You don’t need a course in general relativity to follow them.

All that said, I wouldn’t exactly refuse to ever watch TENET again. It’s definitely intriguing and heady enough that I *could* see it improving if you know, or could find a way to care, WTH is going on (I only graded THE PRESTIGE a 7 on first view) and I did warm to the film a little more as it went on. In my viewing notes about a half-hour in, in homage to Roger Ebert I have written "to the extent I can follow this, I do not care!"