jacob i.’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Don’t try to understand it.”
Looking back at the last time I saw the Tenet trailer, February 2020, I was a completely different person. COVID-19 was on the rise, I was still employed long-term at a different job, movie theaters still existed, and we were all-around less paranoid about the future. I recall my initial reaction being that I would love to see it; a new blockbuster action film that isn’t a Disney/Marvel product. But after Tenet’s “release”, I had simply stopped caring. And after Christopher Nolan’s “My Film Will Save Cinema” God complex showed its true face, I was determined to never directly financially support this endeavor that was, apparently, so explosive, so exciting, so mind-bendingly insane that it would be worth the general public risking their health, and the safety of others, to flood local multiplexes in order to see it. Now, one year later, it’s been dumped to HBOMax. Now, one year later, I am an unemployed, married, skateboarding stoner communist, and I finally watched it.
Folks, I don’t know what to say other than this: the movie that we were lead to believe was the biggest new blockbuster, the one that would change the face of movies, save the theater-going experience, and restore hope to the art of mass-market filmmaking, is an exercise in complete nonsense. Literally nothing happens in this. The story makes absolutely no sense. Plots twist and turn for no reason other than to make things happen. Fundamentally, Tenet makes sense, logically, it is pure absurdity.
It became an in-joke among my friend group that Uncut Gems was “the last movie”, racking up the fear and anxiety of the beginning of the next decade, while also being the final universally acclaimed film of the 2010s. And if that statement still reigns true, then Tenet is the last “MOVIE!!!” The final blockbuster made by an actual director who, despite his unsteady (moreso, frantic) pen, has a vision for what an action blockbuster can contain; stacks of outrageous setpieces, story entirely secondary.
It is two-and-a-half fucking hours of cryptic nothing.
Nolan is not a director who makes “complex ventures” made to be perceived as “deep”. He makes ultra self-serious schlock. You can try to figure it out, but at the end of the day, it means nothing. There is no answer. Paradox.