Tenet ★★★★½

Tenet is a breath of fresh air for this mask wearing time. A true action spectacle that fills some of this void that 2020 has left us in. A theatrical treat that has elevated my mood since I walked out of the theater. And it will certainly bring me right back.

Nolan’s new high-concept venture is something that doesn’t hold it’s concept quite on its sleeve like his other works. Maybe in a second viewing I’ll feel it more, but to me this had a charming mystery in the atmosphere. Sure, there are some moments early on that get muddled in exposition. Although I think that the second half pays it all off in some miraculous ways. The direction is marvelous and I truly think this is one of the best looking Nolan films to date! Great practical effects, stunning cinematography and damn these action scenes are so slick! The inversion idea is so fun and the way it reworks itself through the story in this sort of dual-layered writing is impressive. Kind of like if Memento and Inception had a love child. 

John David Washington is amazing. I really hope this brings him in as a new Hollywood powerhouse because I’d love to see him in a lot more! Robert Pattinson is easily one of my favorite elements of this movie. One of my minor complaints is that he’s not in it nearly as much as he should be. I just adore the attitude of this character. Elizabeth Debicki is always a favorite too. I especially enjoyed her arc in this and I thought that her character curates a lot of the emotion present. She’s definitely the personal backbone, especially in the films final act. Kenneth Branagh is the best Bond villain that isn’t in a Bond film. Great intensity and sheer manipulation are under his total control. He quite possibly makes this whole film work. The rest of the cast is great, but I can’t dive into that at this time.

Sound design is pretty damn great in this one. I loved the experience with Dolby Atmos, much better than the most recent Godzilla. This totally used the entire sound-scope and it made it such a raw experience. Easily some of the most enjoyable sound I’ve ever had in a theater! The sound mixing has been taking a beating from some reviews, I think that maybe the theater staff just didn’t format it properly. There were a few parts that had some dialogue that was a little rough to hear, but overall it was easily some of the best mixing I’ve heard in a Nolan film. You could actually listen to this on headphones and not experience extremely quiet moments mixed with extremely loud booms. It seems (to me) to be a perfect middle ground. I was more upset that my theater didn’t format the screen properly, so I could barely read the subtitles. One of the reasons I’m so down with viewing it again.

The score work isn’t exactly what I expected from Nolan’s previous collaborations with Zimmer, but it is something so slick and new. It fits into this action/thriller amazingly and seriously brings some of these ideas some fresh light. That’s actually the best word for this musical work: fresh. It’s easily one of the most refreshing pieces of musical work I’ve heard in awhile. Also that Travis Scott song absolutely slaps!

Criticisms: Sometimes I felt like the pacing wasn’t as tight as it could be. Some elements of editing are strange, although a second viewing will give me the clarity on whether there’s a fun inverted reason behind it. The characters weren’t as fleshed out as I would’ve liked, but it never adhered to the film’s momentum. (which was the true aspiration in this project anyway)
Also, I have to risk my good health just to experience it and that’s pretty frustrating in itself.

Overall, I think Tenet is an amazing film with some engaging ideas. I’ve never felt so connected to a palindrome in my life.

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