Tenet

Tenet ★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I'm convinced that the sound issues are intentional. Nolan went to the future, saw covid happen and knew a lot of people wouldn't be comfortable going to the movies yet. So Inverted Nolan went back to make a movie so egregiously impossible to understand, that the few people willing to see it during a pandemic would pay to see it four times. Seriously, how do you even conceive of a scene with Russian Accent Kenneth Branagh speaking in inverted language, playing over top of that same speech as translated into forward language through a shitty radio speaker, and expect anyone to have the remotest sense of what he's saying? I didn't even realize there WAS a radio translation until the scene was mostly over, because the forwards and backwards speeches are equally intelligible.

I read a few breakdowns of the plot of the movie afterwards since I couldn't hear anything, and now knowing what probably happened in the movie, I'm convinced that it doesn't actually make all that much sense anyways:

- Why does Kenneth Branagh speak backwards in that scene, but no one else speaks backwards later in the movie? The climax has all sorts of people going either forwards or backwards at the same time but they all seem capable of speaking just fine.

- While Inverted, shouldn't you have to interact with literally every object in a similar way to how a normal person interacts with an Inverted object? How come when you drive a car, the car is just conveniently inverted too? Wouldn't you have to sweep up a bowl of raspberries by pulling them with the broom instead of pushing?

- So is 'whatever happens happens' real or not? If it is, then cool no threat ever because we didn't already experience the time bomb going off in the past. If it's not, then just like, wait around for a few minutes after going through the first turnstile, kill Kenneth Branagh when he comes out of the turnstile again but before he shoots Elizabeth Debicki.

- They started moving forwards in time at the painting place, so how did they get back to the past for the climax? Did they have to just like, wait around and live their lives until when Elizabeth Debicki gets shot, and go through that one again? And if they had all that time to wait around and all of time didn't end, then exactly how long DID they have before all of time ends? Could they have just decided to like, live out the next 50 years and then invert, and Keneth Branagh would still be mid-evil plan once they travel all the way back? Does stopping him even matter at all at that point?

- How did the Tenet soldiers get so many turnstiles into the past for the climax? And if those turnstiles were going to be there in the past anyways, why was the one at the painting place so important? Couldn't Tenet Soldeir Leader Guy have just said "Yeah sure go back in time all you want, it's totally easy to start going forward again, we have like a million turnstiles out in this desert, just meet us there a couple weeks ago"?

- The movie goes to great pains to explain how you can't breathe normal oxygen while you are Inverted, and how you have to bring your own Inverted oxygen with you. This is something that I did not need explained, but by making a point of explaining it, it forces me to ask other like-minded questions. How does one eat while Inverted for several weeks? Do you have to bring the world's largest Inverted bag lunch with you, or do you just have to un-poop normal food? Is your sweat Inverted? Is it technically part of you? If hot is cold and cold is hot, then does that mean that you sweat when it's cold or that you unsweat when it's hot? Why do you perceive the world in an Inverted manner in the first place? Wouldn't you just not be able to perceive it at all because your body can't process light and sound waves similar to how it can't process oxygen? It's not like Inverted light and sounds waves are entering your eyes and ears. No, it's really normal light and sound waves that are actively leaving your eyes and ears.

Normally I would chalk these things up to suspense of disbelief, but I don't really know how to do that with a movie whose entire reason for existence is encouraging people to analyze it to this extent. There's not much of a character arc for anyone involved, and none of it tries to be remotely cathartic or resonant on an emotional level, and that's fine, not every movie needs that. But if all you're left with is a puzzle designed to be picked apart to figure out how it works, then there actually needs to be a coherent "how it works" to figure out. If that doesn't actually exist, because the movie doesn't strictly adhere to its own mechanics, then you're just left with a bunch of really cool fight scenes and car chases and airplane explosions (which are, admittedly, all really cool).

And it's possible that I'm getting all of my nitpicks completely wrong too. Maybe I'm not understanding the basic mechanics it's setting out to adhere to in the first place. Or maybe the movie answered my questions sufficiently through dialogue, and the people creating the breakdowns I read didn't have the same questions so they didn't think to bring up the answers. I guess I could find out for sure once I can watch it at home with subtitles, but I honestly don't think I care enough to bother.

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