Ollie’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ll get the good out of the way first because I don’t think there’s a lot to say here. Visually it’s stunning and some of the locations are beautiful, while the action set pieces are truly great and are the obvious highlight of the film. The performances are also fine, especially given the material they’re working with. There’s also a couple of smaller problems to talk about, one being the dreadful sound mixing. I was hoping the comments surrounding this were an exaggeration but there are so many moments where you can’t hear a word they’re saying. Having said this they were probably chatting utter nonsense anyway so maybe it doesn’t even matter. Another little issue I had was the pacing, particularly in the first half where it felt like the film needed some time to breathe. Instead it feels slightly rushed.
Now my overall problem with this film is that it’s such a hollow experience. I felt nothing and I didn’t care about anything that was happening. I think this boils down to two main issues. The first is that the film is just unnecessarily confusing at times to a point where it completely takes you out of the story. This is most evident during the cross cut. Essentially they’re just in a race against time to defuse a bomb but it’s wrapped up in so much shit that you don’t really know what’s going on. As a result I didn’t feel any real stakes and therefore there was zero tension. The action is also a complete mess here so stuff is sort of just happening and none of it’s particularly interesting. Perhaps this is something that would change on a second viewing but I don’t think a film littered with so much exposition should require multiple viewings to become enjoyable.
The second major problem is the characters. Nolan’s never been known for writing particularly interesting characters but he’s taken it to another level here. We know nothing about them, there’s zero development, and some of the dialogue is so bad that they barely come across as functioning human beings. The Protagonist is the absolute worst example of this, acting as a guide through the narrative as opposed to a real, fleshed out character. I mean he doesn’t even have a name. I had no emotional investment in these characters so when all this cool, dangerous stuff is happening I don’t really have any reason to care about any of it.
For me it’s a big, loud, soulless mess that’s Nolan’s worst film by distance. A massive disappointment. Maybe he’s washed.