Trevor Wang’s review published on Letterboxd:
Tenet is Christopher Nolan’s newest vision of time after such masterpieces as Memento, and Dunkirk, which both have very creative approaches to the concept of time. While Inception deals with the idea of space, Tenet focuses on inversion, a technology to reverse entropy of people and objects through time. Entropy is a complex physics concept which explains why some processes occur spontaneously while their time reversals do not, such as ice melting, salt and sugar dissolving, making popcorn. Nolan gets so technical with his physics in cinematic philosophy!
Linguistically, tenet refers to the principle or belief of religion or philosophy. The choice of tenet then can be understood as the fundamental ideas of inversion as a technology, and reversed entropy that allows separate parallels of time in physics. Once one grasps these ideas, then Tenet will start to make a lot more sense in its complicated storytelling in relation to temporal shifts. Through inversion, characters can move backward in time wearing masks due to the impossibility of reversed air particles, while they can still move forward in time. Because of this, there is the event of characters moving forward in time encountering themselves moving backward in time. This is the most confusing part since the plot first shows the characters moving forward in time for their mission. Later on, they have to move backward in time to prevent disasters and WW3 from happening.
The storytelling becomes clear once you grasp the fundamental concepts of inversion, and reverse entropy. Instead of focusing on plot and character developments, Tenet is driven by the intricate design of the intertwined and repeated actions by characters from separate timelines. As a result, character motifs are hard to understand without in-depth knowledge.
Tenet is so impressive to watch in the cinema for many reasons. The action scenes are absolutely stunning with mind-bending reverse entropy of characters, weapons, and cars. Inversion is both literally thought-provoking, and philosophically fascinating! The production design and special effects are jaw-dropping, especially when characters moving forward in time meet with themselves moving backward in time. Cinematography is also very delicate and detailed to capture actions on all levels, from small-scale facial expressions and conversations to large-scale explosions and fighting scenes. Needless to say, the principal cast delivers outstanding performances, especially John David Washington and Robert Pattinson look so dapper in their suits.
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