It’s August I’ve not been to a cinema in over six months and I couldn’t be happier. The main reason is I’m seeing a film, the secondary reason, it’s a Christopher Nolan film, Tenet.
Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki Tenet is the next blockbuster from Christopher Nolan.
Like all his films it deals with heady topics. It twists and turns the audience’s views of what can be achieved with a narrative. None of them I will go into in this review as Tenet is best viewed with fresh eyes. What I will speak of is the broad strokes of Tenet, the elements that raise this film above the majority of films I’ve seen this year.
Tenet, it’s a palindrome
Tenet can best be described as a high concept spy thriller. The film follows John David Washington’s character as he becomes part of an organisation tasked with preventing World War III due to the introduction of a new kind of weapon. As we follow him down this rabbit hole, he’s joined by Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki.
Tenet is a phenomenal film. I can’t praise Nolan and his cast and crew enough for what they have achieved with this film. The way Nolan deals with the concepts he puts forward in this film is exceptional. If you’re a fan of his previous ventures such as Inception or Interstellar this is the film for you.
If you’re a fan of action films you’ll also be blown away because the action choreography is award worthy. There is a fight scene between two individuals that is chaotic and messy but it is clearly choreographed to within an inch of its life and its enthralling to watch.
Couple that with the remarkable score by composer Ludwig Göransson and there is something metaphysical about Tenet that catches your attention. The best example of this otherworldly score is when Robert Pattinson’s character is introduced. He plonks his svelte ass down beside Washington and instantly you’re ready for their adventure together to kick off. Why? Because the score of the film revs you up.
It hasn’t happened yet
For all the technical wonders on show with this film I do have several issues with Tenet. First being the villain of the piece is not up to par with the rest of the film in my eyes. With the high concept of the story, you needed a high concept villain and in Tenet we have Kenneth Branagh and he’s not enough. Between the terrifying realisation of World War III and the heroism of Washington is Branagh and he’s giving nothing particularly noteworthy in Tenet. It’s a shame because he stands out as a shining beacon of mediocrity.
Also when the world is at stake you want to care for your characters and sadly Tenet also falters here. The relationships between the character don’t go beyond friendly and yet we’re led to believe that Washington and Debicki have a connection that Washington will do anything for.
Now Nolan tries to cover this by the fact that Washington is a man who cares about both the needs of the many and the one because he’s just that good a guy.
The film wouldn’t sell any of this if it weren’t for the fact that the cast is going all out. Debicki, Washington and Pattinson are bringing a lot to their characters. It’s just a shame that Nolan’s writing couldn’t meet them. It would definitely have elevated the film.
I also have to point out that Tenet may be too out there for some audiences. This is not a film for someone looking for a quiet night out to the cinema (if you can make it to your local cinema). Tenet is ethereal, intense and at times an overwhelming film. It’s also a surprisingly timely film and because of that it’ll either be loved or hated.
For me, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see this pungent piece of art unfold and I hope when you see it you have the same experience.
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