Matthew L. Brady’s review published on Letterboxd:
Man, it feels great to be back at the cinema again. Also, I forgot how loud the IMAX speakers can be.
The first major blockbuster in five months is also the one that’s closing off an uneventful summer season. But then again, that alone is a nice filling when you think about it, because a movie with so much meat on its bone, sizzling with rich flavours and so much to chew on, there’s really no need for appetisers.
‘Tenet’ is a head scratcher of a movie, but I really really liked it. I did not fully understand all of it, especially on my first watch, and that is perfectly alright. Despite the movie being 2 hours and 30 minutes long, the movie runs at a quick pace with characters speaking at a fast rate, so it is a rush against time to try and keep up. Repeat viewings and discussions will be seriously needed to solve this complex, but grand puzzle.
As I said before, you can love or hate Christopher Nolan, but there is no denying the craftsmanship on screen is nothing more than extraordinary. I am not a die-hard fan of Nolan, even though I would consider him one of the best working director. I can recognise his flaws, but also cheer on his strengths. An ambitious filmmaker that wants to make every movie he makes special. I mean, there literally crashed a Boeing 747 plane for real in this movie. I have no idea how they filmed and executed it. I rarely asked this, but it gives me great pleasure to sit in a cinema and say, “how the hell did he do that?” And trust me, there was plenty of that throughout the movie. This Nolan guy is a madman.
All of Nolan movies follow the theme of time, but in this movie, time becomes his playground. There was some stunning and jaw dropping scenes involving time bending and reversing of time that was easily the highlight of the movie. I also love how it involves objects and the environment around the characters. What is even more impressive is that there was a mixture of both practical and visually trickery in some scenes. There was a fight between scene a SWAT guard and The Protagonist (John David Washington), one is fighting in reverse, while the other is fighting normal. A fantastic scene. The cast and crew trained for weeks learning how to move and fight backwards, while visual trickery was used in some aspect. Some old school movie magic.
Basically, the whole movie is one big UNO card game.
The performances from everyone was solid. The presence of John David Washington makes his character The Protagonist compelling to watch. Robert Battinson, on the other hand, was the show stealer for me as this charming and sly fox. I hope his performance further makes mainstream audiences move away from his ‘Twilight’ days. I was surprised to see Aaron Taylor-Johnson in this movie and almost did not recognise him at first, but he was great. Elizabeth Debicki was also great, and her character was the only emotional anchor of the movie, in terms of the audience finding some attachment to.
I enjoyed Kenneth Branagh as the Russian villain of the movie and Branagh fully goes for it, as he is chewing up the scenes. Then again, famous poet Charles Bukowski once said, “If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start.” Whenever the scene requires seriousness, I think Branagh pulled it off well, even if the character itself was a stereotypical Russian that you would see in a James Bond movie. Other actors such as: Himesh Patel, Dimple Kapadia, Clémence Poésy, and Michael Caine were all good.
The sound work in the movie was incredible. There was an extreme focus on certain details with sounds that adds so much to the intensity and scope of the movie, especially the gunshots which sounded very realistic and had that loud echo to it. It reminded me of Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ and ‘Collateral’, in terms of gun shots.
The score from Ludwig Göransson was phenomenal and hearing it in the cinema was intense. It fitted every scene so perfectly. An electronic soundtrack with the melody playing backwards. The cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema was great once again and it was incredibly striking to watch. Everything on a technical standpoint was a marvel.
I was not expecting to hear music from Travis Scott at the end of a Christopher Nolan movie. I never thought I'd hear a "SKRRT, SKRRT" in a Nolan film, but it’s a welcoming addition, because when the song came thumping and throbbing through the speakers at this heavy pace, it was so good.
However, I have my issues with the movie. First, I had a hard time understanding some of the dialogue or what the characters were saying. Not because it was complicated, but because it was hard to make out what was being said. I mean, some of it was muffled. Subtitles would have been lovely. It also did not help that the characters talk really quick.
Out of all the Nolan movies, I think this movie lacks at the emotional core. As I said early, Debicki’s character at least gives you some emotional attachment with her story-line involving her son and her toxic relationship with her Russian husband, but even that doesn’t get developed enough. There wasn’t quite that emotional tug at the heart strings that you get in Nolan’s other movies. Although, I would not call the movie hollow or anything, because watching the movie, I felt that awe and intensity, so at least I felt something.
And that is really it for the issues.
I am confident that this movie will have a special place in the future, as the ideas this movie presents is too fascinating to forget or brush off. Even days after seeing the movie, I am still examining the elements that came to light and piece together the puzzle to get the whole sense of the picture. Even those who think they got the plot; I can bet they are dead wrong. Those are the best qualities to a movie, in my opinion. A movie that only tells you so much and leaves your brain fighting for hints, but it’s that urgency of knowing the answers and returning to a movie that you weren’t keen on before, to only discover something new that you never got before.
Overall rating: “ᴡᴇ ʟɪᴠᴇ ɪɴ ᴀ ᴛᴡɪʟɪɢʜᴛ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ. ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ɴᴏ ꜰʀɪᴇɴᴅꜱ ᴀᴛ ᴅᴜꜱᴋ.”
”.ᴋꜱᴜᴅ ᴛᴀ ꜱᴅɴᴇɪʀꜰ ᴏɴ ᴇʀᴀ ᴇʀᴇʜᴛ ᴅɴᴀ .ᴅʟʀᴏᴡ ᴛʜɢɪʟɪᴡᴛ ᴀ ɴɪ ᴇᴠɪʟ ᴇᴡ“ :gnitar llarevO
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