ｒｙａｎ :]’s review published on Letterboxd:
Most Nolan films, and his fans by extension, are much more concerned with the "what" and not the "why". Films like Inception and Dunkirk ring fairly hollow for me personally because even when purpose is introduced to these films, it always feels secondary to what's happening on screen. There's really not much wrong with this approach to filmmaking, especially when making blockbusters, but this implied layer of depth is what turns me away from so much of what Nolan has to offer. People like to discuss his films in terms of spectacle and not any real feeling.
Tenet feels like a much different film in this regard. Nolan plays the up the "what" on screen to such an astoundingly extreme degree that you can focus on the "why" without it being explicitly given to you or spelled out in a robotic way. This search for substance is reflected through much of the dialogue, often times forcing the protagonist, aptly named The Protagonist, to think about the abstract reasons behind decisions that people make. This leads to not only a realized exploration of what a "protagonist" really is, but also some thoughtful looks at fate, existentialism, and the wondrously hopeful nature of human connectivity. Why things happen is much more important than how, even though both are diligently set up and executed confidently by way of Nolan himself. I was not at all expecting a robust and, above all else, meaningful deconstruction of Nolan and his film-bro archetypes in the slightest, but his staunch focus on exploring meaning behind such an explosive spectacle rather than the meticulous happenings themselves was moving to say the least.
I'll have to see this again before I say anything too crazy now, but I really did find a contemplative peace within this that I can't quite describe. I will be thinking about this a lot.
(Score was originally 4 stars!)