Tenet is a spectacle not only in its cinematic achievements but also in its time-bending details. The film is another masterpiece from the mind of filmmaker Christopher Nolan whose hits include Inception and The Dark Knight. This might be your first movie back in theaters in half of a year or more, so the added emotion when an IMAX theater roars to life in an action-packed opening sequence might get to you more than it normally would if you’re a movie buff finally back in your second home. Moreover, the opening moments set the stage for the often puzzling but ultimately very rewarding adventure which follows.
John David Washington checks in as the Protagonist. This is not a name chosen to preserve any spoilers, that is literally the only name given to this character and it's so smoothly executed that there's no reason to think twice. The Protagonist has every bit of charisma and swagger which Nolan loves to inject into his characters and Washington delivers on every beat of the performance. He oozes charisma and confidence, both in scenes which call for action-packed high stakes moments and more intimate, dialogue-driven beats free of explosions or chaos.
Washington’s nameless character develops an integral relationship with Elizabeth Debicki’s troubled but hardened Kat. The actress hangs in for a very tough but also highly relevant role both in the film and in real-world conversations, especially around Hollywood. The two have great chemistry, which often calls for them to push their emotional limits to intense destinations.
Robert Pattinson shines as well, playing a character who supplements Washington’s Protagonist story very nicely. Ultimately, Pattinson's role brings a bit of added heart and surprise to it all but there isn't more to be said without offering up too many details of the film. Tenet gives comic book fans all the more reason to look forward to "Battinson" as Batman, in a big way.
The second act of Tenet gets a little long, as exposition-heavy sequences which Nolan fans have grown to expect fill up the middle bit's run time. While exposition can get heavy and sometimes hard to follow, the payoff of these story threads and the film's mythology as a whole, along with payoff from earlier moments that left viewers with big questions, fulfill those answers by tremendously satisfying design. Pair this script, which is so complex that even trying to spoil it in any sensible quick description would prove difficult, with the practicality of the film and it is an awe-inspiring achievement that fully reminds us why we love cinema.
When the third act kicks into gear and things are more clear both for the audience and the Protagonist, who they have been watching for nearly two hours by this point, Nolan drills home his payoffs with a thunderous landing. This culmination is complemented by the sounds from Ludwig Goransson all throughout, who sometimes echoes the composition of Nolan’s Inception. Moments ranging from characters hatching a plan as the camera wraps around them to a massive airliner crashing into a building are accompanied by a pulse-pounding score, with the sound helping the movie feel well-paced and exciting even in moments of downtime and explanation. The brilliant cinematography, skilled performances, and emphatic score fall right in line with the excellently paced and cleverly revealed story of it all.
Tenet is truly a marvel, especially when seen on the biggest screen possible with a sound system to rock the floor beneath your feet. The film offers a story and overall experience which will still satisfy those who cannot get safely to a movie theater, do not yet feel comfortable gathering in such an environment, or don’t currently have such an option whenever they are afforded the eventual opportunity to watch it in their own homes, as well.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Tenet hits theaters on September 3rd.