4 out 5 stars
Christopher Nolan’s newest creation “Tenet” is so entertaining and so confusing that you will have to see it twice. Unless of course, you are not comfortable going to the theater, but if you are — go now. Especially since it is a movie made for the theater experience: a bold original action espionage movie involving time inversion and a mission to stop World War 3.
I had to visit the theater twice to understand enough of this movie to write a review, because despite its amazing and original direction, it is an imperfect movie with a convoluted plot that will leave you frustrated if you attempt to try and understand it.
This may sound counter intuitive, but a movie is not a math problem that involves countless hours of work to solve; there is no due date, and you do not deserve another headache in 2020. Let me explain.
Considering my intellectual disappointment in trying to understand the film, I decided to listen to the advice provided to the protagonist, played by John David Washington. When shown a couple of inverted-time materials for the first time, he is told to not try to understand it but to just feel it.
After adopting this new perspective, I loved the movie. It is a non-stop adrenaline rush that does not slow down, and I felt anxiety, heartbreak and more during the second viewing, which elevated the entire experience.
The film is well made with terrific action sequences, great performances and stunning visuals. It also features a dynamic score composed by Ludwig Goransson.
Yet, “Tenet” still has flaws, specifically because the spectacular performances from Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabet Debicki and Kenneth Branagh are left out to dry due to poor character development.
One common complaint about the movie is the sound engineering; comments from other reviewers, friends and social media users claim they missed full sequences of dialogue due to the loud score — a problem I did not have.
In a different year, “Tenet” would be that explosive summer box-office hit like previous Nolan movies, but 2020 is not a normal year.
Movie studios do not normally take risks on original concepts like “Tenet,” but Nolan’s success allowed him to convince Warner Brothers to cough up an estimated $205 million to create this movie — the highest budget for any of his original concept movies, including “Interstellar,” “Inception” and “The Prestige.”
According to Nolan, “Tenet” is designed more for the theater experience compared to his other films.
“I think, of all the films that I’ve made, this is perhaps the one that is most designed for the audience experience, the big screen experience. This is a film whose image and sound really needs to be enjoyed in your theaters on the big screen, and we’re very, very excited for you to see what it is we’ve done,” Nolan said in a taped message sent to participants of CineEurope, a convention for international film promoters.
Warner Brothers and Nolan were on a race against time, just like the characters in the film, but by no fault of their own, their timing was completely off.
The original release date for “Tenet” was July 17. The film was then pushed back to August 12 and then finally released in theaters on September 3.
If this film flops due to COVID-19, the movie studios should not worry about taking risks in the future on big-budget, original ideas.
I recommend Warner Brothers listen to the advice from “Tenet,” just like I did. “What’s happened, happened,” says Pattinson’s character, Neil, to the protagonist. And the coronavirus happened, so let’s not use this disease to stop more original, bold projects in the future.
I recommend re-releasing the film again when everyone feels comfortable to go to theaters. This would ensure that everyone gets the experience that Nolan intended. I hope they do, because it was the big screen experience I had waited for since movie theaters closed earlier this year.
“Tenet” is currently in theaters around Colorado Springs, but please check the sanitation policies of your intended theater before going in, to ensure a safe viewing.