Tenet Movie Review

Christopher Nolan’s 11th directorial effort might be his most confusing yet.


Patton Engel, Reporter

     Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, and Dimple Kapadia. The performances in this movie do a great job with what they were given to work with, led by our protagonist John David Washington. Perhaps taking some tips from his dad Denzel Washington, John David Washington perfectly executes a James Bond-esque role in this movie and never feels out of place when doing spy things. Pattinson easily provides the best performance next to Washington, with Kenneth Branagh providing an over the top antagonist role. One of the main issues with this movie is that there isn’t much to say about these characters. They do their role well, but it isn’t a character driven movie. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a plot driven movie, but like most Christopher Nolan decisions, he goes all the way with it here and leaves a lot of exposition and character development in the dust. 

      Speaking of the plot, Nolan makes sure that Tenet is a confusing film. The rules of time and the inversion of time in this movie makes it very hard for people . Without spoiling too much, some of the people at a specific time or during a specific event move backwards in time in the movie. It’s hard to explain and it’s even harder to understand while watching. As the movie progresses, you begin to understand a little better, but Nolan really blows viewers minds in the beginning, and he leaves a lot of time-related questions open ended. It’s a movie that may take two or three watches before it’s fully understood. 

     Beyond the characters and plot of Tenet, Christopher Nolan puts together an incredible viewing experience. The action in this movie seems to know exactly what needed to be done with cgi, and what could be done with practical effects. The opening fight scene and the final fight scene stand out the best, but the action across the entire movie is truly top notch. The inversion factor is truly baffling as to how they choreographed a fight with one person going back in time and the other going forwards. The climax of this movie explores this the best and has some incredible moments that leave watchers stunned. 

     On top of the action, Tenet came with an incredible soundtrack that seemingly fit every situation to a tee. The great Hans Zimmer is the one who usually orchestrates the soundtracks for Nolan movies, but Ludwig Göransson, known for providing the soundtrack to movies like Black Panther, fills his shoes here and then some. Overall, the sound effects in general from this movie are top notch.

     Unfortunately, the volume is really the only area of concern for this movie outside of a confusing plot. Part of the reason the movie is so confusing is because the actors are so hard to understand. The score and background often take over the characters speaking, and for a movie that gives so little exposition, it’s incredibly frustrating. Nolan has had this complaint with some of his movie before, but it seems like Tenet took it too far. Subtitles almost seem like an essential for this movie which shouldn’t be necessary. 

     Overall Tenet is a solid movie that probably doesn’t live up to the summer blockbuster expectations it was given, but also isn’t nearly as bad as some publications are making it out to be. It’s a unique Christopher Nolan movie that does what Nolan does both best and worst. 

Rating: C+

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