Christopher nolan’s Tenet Movie is a spy espionage action thriller with a time-bending twist to it that’s all i’m gonna say about the plot because this is a spoiler-free review.i am seeing on the internet this might be christopher nolan’s most divisive film to date some people are absolutely loving it and i’m seeing a lot of people being surprised how much they did not enjoy this film.
Let’s get started talking about the good and the best thing about this film is that in classic christopher nolan fashion he is swinging for the fences with the concept he’s not playing it safe he’s not trying to make a film that others have made before he takes a familiar genre and he combines it with these new concepts about time and what you can do with that and delivers something new that has familiar vibes to it but it’s all distinctly christopher nolan.
Now i’ll have more to say about that when we get to the mixed and the bad aspects of this film but what i love about going into a nolan film is that i know i will see something new i will be challenged he will explore something and whether he succeeds or whether he fumbles he fumbles forward there’s always some novelty to it and i always love that about his movies and this movie is no exception he tries stuff and he is swinging for the fences.
Another fun thing about this movie is that this is his spy movie he’s very often spoken about the fact that he grew up watching the james bond films and this is his bond film right out of the gate you can see the bond influences with the spy aspects and then as you get into the story the way it’s kind of told in the first half bond is all over this movie and it’s just kind of fun to see him doing a globe trotting film with big action set pieces with spies trying to do heists and manipulating one another.
Third thing i thoroughly enjoyed about this film is that it probably has christopher nolan’s biggest and best set pieces as a spy film right out of the gate you are going into these action sequences and they happen at a really nice cadence and each one has something unique and distinct about it it’s christopher nolan so it’s not a bunch of CGI this is practical stunt work and practical effects which whether it’s just a normal shootout or a normal fist fight it’s handled with nice shots much better than i think he handled his action in the dark knight trilogy but then it also starts getting into the time bending stuff where you start having fight scenes chase sequences and all out battles that do stuff that you’re not really sure how they filmed it because of the amount of forward and backward happening at the exact same time and you know that they did practical stuff on sets you’re just watching me like what am i watching right now.
This is just wild and kind of mind-blowing it’s a bit like the hallway fight scene in inception where the gravity’s all thrown off and so you’re watching a fight scene but everything’s moving really weird there’s multiple sequences in this movie that play out like that they’re longer they’re bigger and more stuff happens in them and it is big massive trippy weird and very unique fourth it can actually be pretty funny at times one of the early reviews that got traction on twitter called the movie humorless in the title for the review which struck me as an odd thing at the time because why would you go into christopher nolan movie expecting it to have a bunch of humor and now it’s even stranger because this might be the christopher nolan that movie that has the most laughs in it not that it’s a comedy it’s not that much humor in it but there’s just a nice little cadence specifically from robert Pattinson’s character that he just has a little bit of commentary on stuff that gets a chuckle out of you that breaks just a little bit of the tension at just the right moments.
The final positive for this one is that there’s a number of really solid performances kenneth branagh to me was one of the big standouts where he just plays this character that can be incredibly intense and have these big outbursts at times where he’s truly horrifying the other standout to me was robert pattinson who just added a lighter touch to the film has a lot of tension you spend a lot of time trying to follow the plot line and so he has just a little bit of levity.
Finally gotta talk about john david washington who i think did a solid job in the film you could buy him as this movie’s version of kind of a james bond character in all these spy situations trying to manipulate people you can certainly sells the action and you’re interested enough in what he’s doing i think he could have been written a little bit better and had a little bit more depth to him to understand where he’s coming from but as for what he brought to the table i enjoyed what he did with it.
But this movie also had a lot of things that frustrated me so let’s move on to the mixed aspects of the film and the big thing here is that this movie is absolutely christopher nolan trying to out noland himself it’s upping the ante the concepts are more complex the set pieces are grander and some people are going to absolutely love that this is peak nolan other people are absolutely going to roll their eyes at how self-indulgent it can be and a bunch of people are going to be right there in the middle appreciating the ambition enjoying a bunch of aspects of it.
But thinking that maybe nolan went a little bit too far with this film and that’s probably where i fall so let’s go into the bad and there’s no way around this this movie is unnecessarily confusing now the film’s central time concept inherently creates a story that demands a lot from the audience and that’s a good thing but the movie is difficult to follow before the time concept starts to come into play for two big reasons.
First, the movie jumps into action immediately with no setup for the characters or situations that we’re in and it never slows down long enough for the audience to catch up and it just keeps throwing us into new situations and introducing new characters without setting up who they are or explaining what they want we just keep going to new places to get things but we’re not quite sure why and getting information from a person but we’re not really sure who they are and this keeps repeating all the way up until we get to the finale where we know the consequences.
If our team doesn’t accomplish their mission but we’re not sure exactly what their mission is or why it will lead to these consequences there’s constantly questions as to what exactly is going on and all of this comes down to the movie not slowing down long enough to answer those basic questions who what where when how and why and this isn’t about the movie intentionally setting up mysteries that build intrigue it’s the movie not giving enough information not explaining enough so you’re frustrated.
And all of this is compounded by the second big problem the sound mix for this film was bizarre it was incredibly difficult to hear what people were saying in far too many sequences where they were delivering exposition whether that’s because people were wearing masks and you couldn’t hear what they were saying or because they were on ships with loud noise in the background very frequently in scenes where they were explaining the plot in what was happening you really couldn’t make out much of what they were saying so you have a movie that’s offering about half as much exposition and setup as it probably should and you can only hear half of the exposition and setup that they are giving you and all of this is before they introduce the time elements so the movie keeps you on the edge of your brain’s processing power just trying to follow the main plot.
And then it introduces the time gimmick which doubles the amount of information that you have to process which is mind-blowing but for the wrong reasons if you’re going to have a central gimmick that’s going to demand so much processing power from the audience’s brain it’s extra important that the audience clearly understands the basics of the plot and that simply isn’t the case here which makes for a very frustrating film.
So My final score I can only give it is B on the entertainment scale honestly i don’t know and you should see it on the big screen if you can handle being frustrated by the story.
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