First Tenet Reviews Released, Praise Christopher Nolan's Spectacle

Thanks to projects like Dunkirk, Inception, and his Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the most ambitious filmmakers currently working in Hollywood, which made his latest film, Tenet, one of the most anticipated theatrical events of the year, with the first reviews for the film promising that Nolan has pulled off another immense accomplishment with the size and scale of the adventure. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic means that American audiences will have to wait until September 3rd to see the film in whatever theaters might be open at that time, though international markets will be able to see Tenet before it opens in the United States.

Over at Variety, Guy Lodge details, "The sheer meticulousness of Nolan’s grand-canvas action aesthetic is enthralling, as if to compensate for the stray loose threads and teasing paradoxes of his screenplay — or perhaps simply to underline that they don’t matter all that much. Tenet is no holy grail, but for all its stern, solemn posing, it’s dizzy, expensive, bang-up entertainment of both the old and new school. Right now, as it belatedly crashes a dormant global release calendar, it seems something of a time inversion in itself."

At Empire, Alex Godfrey notes, "Tenet once again proves Nolan’s undying commitment to big-screen thrills and spills. There’s a lot riding on this film, to resurrect cinema, to wrench people away from their televisions, facemasks and all. It may well do the trick: if you’re after a big old explosive Nolan braingasm, that is exactly what you’re going to get, shot on old-fashioned film too (as the end credits proudly state). By the time it’s done, you might not know what the hell’s gone on, but it is exciting nevertheless. It is ferociously entertaining."

Despite the spectacle, not all audiences were impressed with the film's narrative. At IndieWire, Mike McCahill confirms, "Big, certainly: IMAX-scaled, and a hefty 150 minutes even after a visibly ruthless edit. It’s clever, too — yes, the palindromic title has some narrative correlation — albeit in an exhausting, rather joyless way. As second comings go, Tenet is like witnessing a Sermon on the Mount preached by a savior who speaks exclusively in dour, drawn-out riddles. Any awe is flattened by follow-up questions."

Of its disappointments, Catherine Shoard confirms at The Guardian, "You exit the cinema a little less energized than you were going in. There’s something grating about a film which insists on detailing its pseudo-science while also conceding you probably won’t have followed a thing. We’re clobbered with plot then comforted with tea-towel homilies about how what’s happened has happened. The world is more than ready for a fabulous blockbuster, especially one that happens to feature face masks and chat about going back in time to avoid catastrophe. It’s a real shame Tenet isn’t it."

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Tenet is slated to hit theaters on September 3rd.

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