Tenet Review

Image: Warner Bros

Tenet, the time inverting mind-boggling movie is finally available on home release. 

Christopher Nolan is one of Hollywood’s biggest directors with the likes of Inception, Interstellar and the Dark Knight Trilogy under his belt. Naturally, Tenet was going to be the most anticipated movie of 2020.

The film follows The Protagonist (John David Washington) a CIA agent who is chosen to bring down arms dealer Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). The Protagonist and his partner Neil (Robert Pattinson) must stop World War III, which has time inversion written all over it.  

The first half of the movie marvels us with the time-inverted bullet, which no longer flies forward; it flies back into the gun. However, the second half introduces us to the turnstile, which can invert people. The Protagonist then has to backtrace the events of the movie in an inverted form, which makes for great action sequences.

Image: Warner Bros

Tenet was also the first time since The Presitge (2006) where we saw a Christopher Nolan movie without music maestro Hans Zimmer. However, Ludwig Göransson filled Zimmer’s void in the film completely. The engaging soundtrack features layers of rapid percussion and competing rhythms which gives the audience a feel of time acceleration. 

Tenet, as you might have heard, was a failure at the box office. The big-budget movie earned just $363 million. A lot of its paltry performance can be blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was released during a time when most theatres were still closed which affected its overall revenue. The movie was supposed to be the last hope for theatres and cinema chains during the pandemic, but clearly, things are still far from normal. 

The photography and shots were, as expected, on point by Christopher Nolan. Some of the visuals in Tenet were simply jaw-dropping which was backed by a powerful soundtrack. 

Robert Pattinson and John David Washington were topnotch in their performances. Elizabeth Debicki and Dimple Kapadia too added their flavours to the characters which made it an interesting watch. However, Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) seems like yet another bland generic villain in an action movie. 

Image: Warner Bros

In my opinion, the movie tries to grasp for something greater than what’s allowed within the confinements of its time limit. The plot of the movie is spectacular, but the best medium to convey this story would be on an episodic tv show, not a movie.

A plot like Tenet needs to be more fleshed out to have a larger impact on the audience. Dark, a three-season German show on Netflix is a good example of this. Had the time-travelling breathtaking show been made into a movie, it would be a complete mess.

Tenet tries to fit in so many elements in its 150 minute run time that most audiences are simply left wondering what’s happening. The fact that the movie depends heavily on exposition doesn’t help either. The technique show, don’t tell seems to have been thrown outside the window. 

Complicated jargons which are oblivious to the audience such as algorithm or time inversion are casually thrown around by characters with the help of overkill exposition. 

Not to mention that most of the characters’ dialogues sound muffled and are usually, if not always overwhelmed by the soundtrack. Which needless to say, is terrible for a movie heavily dependent on exposition. 

The quote in the film, “Don’t try to understand it, feel it”, perfectly sums up Tenet. As an audience, we are supposed to experience and be immersed in it. If you try to understand it, it might be too convoluted for you to enjoy. 

Final Verdict: 3 stars (out of 5)