Tenet ★★½

It makes some degree of sense that a filmmaker so often lauded as “visionary,” yet who’s also expressed longstanding confusion at how mirrors work, should finally serve up a summer blockbuster that’s really only half a movie. Granted, this could only be by design — and Christopher Nolan’s two-and-a-half-hour, time-reversing Tenet is nothing if not designed. The film plays its pre-title opening for maximum disorientation, kicking off in a Kiev opera house with a ticking-clock setpiece, its confusing, if propulsive action set to a bombastic, blaring score (courtesy of Ludwig Göransson, here stepping in for Nolan regular Hans Zimmer). From this earsplitting din, we are soon introduced to John David Washington’s unnamed, capital-P Protagonist, an agent who takes a cyanide pill for the good of his team, only to later awaken and find himself not only alive, but recruited into an enigmatic network known only as Tenet. When a scientist later shows him objects whose entropy has been reversed, allowing them to flow back in time (perhaps from “a future war”), she adds, “Don’t try to understand it. Just feel it.” In a different film, this might be the director’s nudging advice, but given Nolan’s general interest in clockwork contraptions, it’s hard not to read it as something more like a challenge.

The rest at In Review Online.