doppelgangerdev’s review published on Letterboxd:
At long last Seattle theaters have (somewhat) reopened. This after gyms, restaurants, bars, most clothing stores and even float tank locations have functioned since about July.
ANYWAYS, a movie was seen and heard! Well, mostly heard. I can see how an IMAX viewing would be a strain to hear at times. Mine was ole' DLC and overall I didn't have too many issues with the sound sans a few muffled mask lines near the end. However, it didn't stop me from getting the picture. Tenet is a lot of gas with a few breaks. A sci-fi thriller that's interest is in setting you into it's world and explaining as it goes. I heard a lot of gripe about exposition. Which, yeah a film about metals that have inverted abilities has exposition. Shocking I know. But most of it just bumps along with some expectation that you "get it" or simply hang on for the ride. Either of which I think you can do and be just fine. In part because nothing here is too out there. It's basic premise follows the line of any number of spy thrillers. It's simply Nolan's choice of complication, ie time traveling arms dealing that throws a wrench into things.
John David Washington does the stoic lead thing his dad has done so well with for years. And I got a hunch he's gonna do well with it too. Pattenson gets to play the coy sidekick. Elizabeth Debicki in a rare non villain role and the sort of heart of the story. In the face of Oscar winner Kenneth Branagh, FINALLY giving us his Mission Impossible villain we never got, Super gruff, arch and wife beat-y. Yes, folks... we've got ourselves a bad guy. No, not one those yeah he's bad, but also good or yeah he's bad, but we only see him do loosely bad deeds. Nope, ripe shit. The clash and bounce and bang into one another for the duration at a decent pacing. For 151 minutes it didn't feel quite like it.
The tail end, which is where I guess it loses people is indeed pretty wild. But it's also where it gets the most creative and somewhat abstract. The ending illustrated something I'd felt earlier, but wasn't sure on. To some extent the action feels like equation examples put into motion. You lose who is who at times and at first it bugged me, but then sort of became a bit of the point. The humanity Tenet plays with does remind me of how Mann and a few others have done it in recent years. Characters don't behave as we expect and sometimes have an emotionless veneer. But their actions are pretty much solely centered around a human cause. Its all heady and shit, but end of the day boils down to simple concepts.
It isn't' my favorite Nolan, but damned if I don't want him to play around. And he certainly did that. The flip side is his version of silliness is (especially in the US) not "fun". Not enough colors or jokes. The action is something else, but lets be honest what audiences accept in that lane is pretty weak these days. Tenet's not gonna win over people who don't like his stuff. Just as there isn't a Wes Anderson film to win over those who don't like his work. Same for Sophia Coppola. They do what they do cause of who they are seems. Like it or lump it.
Thoughts a day later...
I did shoot this off right before I had to go live so I realized I missed some points. Also this wound up being a much longer review and generally I try to keep things a little more brief so I felt compelled to wrap it up. I really dig Ludwig Goransson's score. I mean, thank God someone is bringing guitar shreds back to action movies. I have missed it. I've been mulling over its action sequences and the missions undertaken by the team. I've mentioned a few times I'm always interested in movies where the heroes fail repeatedly. In Tenet this happens often. The plan goes swervy somewhere along the line making things worse. What's interested me is in Tenet almost all the failures are due to some level of emotion getting in the way at critical moments. But it was also interesting that each plan had a healthy dose of 'ehhhh... this SHOULD work' covering it. Such uncertainty is an odd feeling for a film like this. I've also liked the finale the more I've thought about it. I'll forgo specifics until a re-watch and to avoid spoilers stuff. But there is something to the nature of it and how it plays out that's more charming and satisfying upon reflection. However I do get the confusion surrounding it more as well. Fun stuff to chew on, so I'll give it a bump by 1/2.
As to my "return to theaters" experience...
It was solid with one hitch. Only a few theaters re-opened in the city. Several in other counties around the state have been open for some time. But they have vastly smaller population densities there. Of course the famed Cinerama is closed until... who knows when. Ironically of all the theaters here Cinerama would've been the easiest to make safe due to how open its floor plan is and their latex chairs instead of cloth. However the main ones around me that popped back were an AMC downtown in the mall and The Varsity a few blocks away. The Varsity is my kinda joint. Run down to some extent despite the old fixtures of better times still visible, but functional as hell. Plus even under normal conditions NO ONE is ever there. By showtime there were six people (myself included) in a room that sat about 80-100. About an hour into the film and we'd just witnessed Branagh do something slightly less evil than making Artemis Fowl. A loud buzzer goes off. FIRE ALARM BABY. Luckily there wasn't a real fire, but apparently there may have been some vaping going on elsewhere in the theater. All eyes shot to the two dudes vaping from The New Mutants upstairs. But after the firefighters cracked a few jokes it was all good. Moral of the story... I don't do moral of stories damn it! Just if your gonna hit a theater be strategic and be safe obviously. Don't vape in the damn theater!