petricor’s review published on Letterboxd:
Cue ramblings of a very mad person.
But first-- Let me preface this by listing some of my Nolan preferences by saying that Memento, Inception, and Interstellar are some of my favorite films. I have a lot of regard for them regardless of what anyone says and I will defend them on my deathbed against haters. End of story. Also, for what it's worth, I understood all of those on first watch. Maybe not all the intricate details. But I got the major plot.
That being said, I consider Nolan's Dunkirk a failure with little redeeming qualities. I gave Dunkirk 1.5 stars.
I'm giving Tenet 1 star. One.
This was a hot mess. Actually, probably not even hot because that would require a degree of excitement and fun. This was just a mess.
I was expecting an elegant puzzle which made sense as the story grew akin to my favorites from Nolan. There was nothing elegant about this. Nothing.
This is the equivalent of Christopher Nolan taking those Matryoshka dolls and blowing them up to smithereens and handing you the remnants for you to play with for 2.5 hours as he shouted angrily at you through Ludwig Guransson's musical rendition of Hans Zimmer's latest hits.
As soon as I learned something, other things made less sense, like motivations, etc. That's when I actually could hear what the fuck anyone was talking about. I will defend awful sound mixing in Interstellar's case because it really added to the atmosphere and it didn't detract from the plot. The plot made sense.
There was no catharsis in Tenet. No investment. No urgency. No morale of the story. Because nothing made sense. Confusion for the sake of confusion. Which is fucking lazy. Not sure if Christopher Nolan decided to troll all of us by making it seem like he's having exposition but that exposition not actually making a lick of sense.
And don't even get me started on how Elizabeth Debicki seemed to interject with "MY SON" all the time while being subject to being damsel in distress for the Protagonist to rescue and a battered wife for Kenneth Branagh. I'd rather Nolan's on-screen wives stay dead if this is the result of them being "alive." Super uncomfortable and borderline gratuitous.
It's also visually ugly. The purported set pieces look like they could be lifted out of a Michael Bay 2000s film or a 1990s airplane thriller film. Nothing feels unique. The entire concept of time reversal is shallowly explored to the point of Robert Pattinson saying WHO CARES when John David Washington is like but what if this happens? NO ONE KNOWS AND NO ONE CARES.
Such a fucking defeatist, ugly film. What are your tenets, Christopher Nolan? Because I have no idea.
The redeeming quality is seeing John David Washington brood a bit and Robert Pattinson be a bit edgy. One star for the cast trying. John David Washington deserves better, y'all.
I never thought I'd say this but I'd rather re-watch Dunkirk if I had to re-watch Tenet.
Ending this on some song lyrics to signify the scope of my despair,
[Hall & Oates's Out of Touch] You're out of touch. I'm out of time--
That's it. That's the story.