Tenet

Tenet ★★★

Sometimes, when confronted with a film so disorienting, it’s important to review the basics.

THE SCORE:
There is a score and it is loud. It drowns out most of the dialogue. Speaking of the dialogue...

THE DIALOGUE:
People talk in this movie and they often talk to each other by way of expository dialogue, which means they’re trying to explain what the hell is going on.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON:
The plot of Tenet is fairly simple. It’s built around the premise that a future cell of humanity is upset that we fucked the world over for them, so they employ agents to travel through the past to detonate an explosion that’ll make time stop or make time reverse or something. It’s up to the Protagonist to stop them.

THE PROTAGONIST:
This film has one and, if you get confused by everything else or can’t remember his name, his name is the Protagonist. He’s played by John David Washington, who’s a pretty fun actor to watch. He interacts with other characters.

OTHER CHARACTERS:
Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson are the most important other characters. Debicki is the wife of the main bad guy played by Gilderoy Lockhart—she gets treated better than most other wife characters in a Nolan movie, though she still gets beat up a few times. Pattinson is Washington’s Robin, and I don’t say that because Nolan directed a couple Batman movies a few years back (you might’ve heard of them). Strangely, he has the most emotional moment in the film near the end, but I won’t spoil it.

THE EMOTIONS:
There are none.

THE EXECUTION:
I’m convinced there is no way to execute this premise in a way that isn’t going to be totally disorienting to the human mind. There’s a reason we process time the way we do, and diverting from the formula that reality adheres to makes for some paradoxes that are simultaneously fun and mentally taxing. The execution could’ve been better, however, by not masking the characters’ exposition with intrusive music or by not making the characters’ exposition difficult to follow in the first place.

THE VERDICT:
Pretty good!

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