CinemaClown’s review published on Letterboxd:
It is one thing for a film to have a complex narrative structure and another for it to be a convoluted mess. And Tenet is unfortunately the latter. A high-concept, sci-fi mind-bender with a premise that packs just the right kind of intrigue, potential & promise, it really is a shame that the execution is so incoherent & all over the place that even after one connects all the dots, there is no rewarding feeling or sense of fulfilment waiting at the end.
Written & directed by Christopher Nolan, once again he comes up with an original & seemingly ingenious idea but fails to construct an emotionally fulfilling plot around it. Though his attempt to dismantle & reassemble the same set of events to provide added context & new perspective is admirable, the story still lacks the cohesiveness & smooth flow which in turn fails to not only elevate & enrich a cinematic ride like this but is also unable to make the whole journey seem satisfying & worthwhile.
The sci-fi mechanics at play in Tenet are interesting to say the least but the characters remain cold & distant throughout the picture, their persona & interplay lacking depth & connection to such an extent that not even the film's end-of-the-world shtick is able to make us care. The inversion segments sure look cool & disorienting but they still don't make up for the glaring problems in the screenplay. And then, things get even worse when some of the technical aspects are taken into consideration.
Performances from the cast is good but there are no standouts. Robert Pattinson is the only one who tries to make his role count while others just play along as per the scene requirements with surface-level emotions. Editing is a mixed bag, captivating & confusing in equal measure, and is unable to make all elements function in harmony. Ludwig Göransson's score has no idea how to keep up with the unfolding events. Messy & muddled, it neither exhibits a structural flow nor any sensory thrills.
Overall, Tenet is an audacious effort by all means but it also falls short of living up to its own lofty ambitions and is an inconsistent ride that's marred by issues of its own makings. Nolan finally bites off more than he can chew, making Tenet one of his most disappointing entries. Still, for what it's worth, this cerebral delight piqued my curiosity enough to warrant another viewing. But as per first impressions, Christopher Nolan's latest is a disjointed & disappointing mess that effectively showcases his best & worst tendencies as a filmmaker.