I just watched Tenet and there’s a lot that I want to talk about right now. And there’s no better way to say it than a movie review. Instead of focusing on the complexity of the plot, I’ll be more focused on the quality of the film, which is something that has divided critics quite a lot. Here’s why I believe that Tenet is an unmissable masterpiece! And I’ll explain it to you without any spoilers.
Tenet movie review (spoiler-free)
This is the main selling point of this film. Tenet has an original plot and script, which is Christopher Nolan’s brainchild. It’s common knowledge now that the workings of time fascinate Christopher Nolan to no end. It was made evident by his work in Memento and Interstellar. However, with Tenet, he took his obsession with time to a whole new level. In this day and age, it is quite rare for a mainstream director to create a script by himself with a completely novel concept and then execute it so effectively. The fact that Nolan had the audacity to make a movie like Tenet is a feat in itself that deserves praise. I’m not saying it’s a perfect movie, but it is the most unique film I have ever seen in my life.
The plot of the movie is incredibly complex, but fully engaging from the first scene. You spend the first half of the film just trying to figure out what’s going on, even if you pay attention. But by the second half, you do get a hang of what’s going on. Therefore, all you need to know is that there’s an organization named Tenet that is trying to prevent World War III. But, instead of their being blocks of countries, the threat is coming from the future. Instead of just plain old time travel, our heroes have to face weapons and people with reverse entropy, that move back in time! The plot of this film is like a love child of Memento and Inception, only far more complex than those two films ever tried to be.
However, if you’re still eager to know more about the plot, or to understand Tenet a little better, this piece by Esquire can help you with it.
The visuals & sound
Now comes the visuals. The movie looked absolutely gorgeous on IMAX. As we all know, Nolan is not a big fan of the green screen. He instead spends more money on recreating his script in real-time and enhancing it with visual effects. And Tenet was no different than any other previous film. There are scenes in Tenet where half of the characters in the same scene are moving forwards in time. And the other half are moving backward! And Nolan managed to pull it off so seamlessly that you’re left in awe of his creation. Like I said before, the fact that Nolan had the audacity to make a film like this is an achievement in itself.
And the sound was just exquisite. Even though Nolan did not have Hans Zimmer’s services for Tenet, Ludwig Göransson replaced Zimmer quite adequately. In fact, his score really made the film alive from the very first scene. The Swedish composer managed to communicate the feelings of the film better than the dialogue ever could. However, that brings us to the one weak point of the film.
The weak point – dialogue
Unfortunately, the dialogue in Tenet is the weakest part of the movie. I’m not saying they were bad. It’s just that I had a very hard time understanding what the actors were trying to say. Incredible though the music was, sometimes it drowned out the actors’ voices. And that does the movie some disservice because you really need to pay attention to the dialogue a lot of the times. That’s not to say that you can’t understand the movie at all. Most of us can, and even if we do skip some of the dialogues, we’ll be fine by the end. But, it doesn’t do the film any favor at all.
Moreover, the accents could get a little difficult to understand sometimes. I am personally dying to see the movie in Blu-Ray because the subtitles will help you completely decipher the film and its delicate plot.
The performances and characters
The performances by John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kenneth Branagh were great. They portrayed their characters perfectly and you cannot find any flaw in their performances throughout the movie. In fact, Robert Pattinson’s Neil was particularly brilliant, as his character often brought a bit of freshness and reliability back on the screen. He felt the most human out of the entire cast.
That said, Tenet is a plot-heavy movie by quite some distance. And because of that, Nolan did not focus on character development a lot. Even Washington’s lead role just had the name “The Protagonist”. We never hear about their backstories in detail and the audience never really cared about the characters either. In fact, the antagonist Branagh’s Andrei Sator got the most details than any other character from the show. And the most emotionally relatable character was indeed Debicki’s Kat, as she was willing to live in an abusive marriage with Sator for the sake of her child.
Other than that, characters are definitely not the strong point of Tenet. But, that is by design. The plot itself is easily engaging enough for us to be fully invested in the film’s outcomes.
Final verdict – still an unmissable masterpiece
Here’s how I would sum up Tenet. It’s not the best film ever made. It’s not even the best Nolan film out there. The movie has flaws as well, even in its incredibly complex plot. But, it is by far the most unique movie I have ever or will ever get to see in my life. The fact that this movie even exists that Christopher Nolan created and executed it so brilliantly is a testament to his talent as one of the few remaining original creators in Hollywood.
You can easily watch Tenet on multiple rewatches and every time you will find some detail that you previously missed. It will still manage to engage you on those rewatches, which is I believe something that Christopher Nolan wanted out of this film. I have watched it twice, and I’m still aching to see it for a third time to see if I missed out on any little intricate detail in the film. Therefore, I can easily give this film an 8.5 out of 10. Please go watch it if it is screening at your nearest cinema if you can. Only if they’re following proper COVID-19 guidelines. No movie is ever worth your life, always remember that!